Steve Belichick walks on the field before an NFL game Oct. 2, 2022, in Green Bay, Wis. Belichick is joining Washington’s staff as defensive coordinator after spending the past 12 seasons on coaching staff of the New England Patriots. (AP Photo/Matt Ludtke)

Steve Belichick walks on the field before an NFL game Oct. 2, 2022, in Green Bay, Wis. Belichick is joining Washington’s staff as defensive coordinator after spending the past 12 seasons on coaching staff of the New England Patriots. (AP Photo/Matt Ludtke)

UW officially announces Steve Belichick as new defensive coordinator

The son of legendary NFL coach Bill Belichick is making his first foray into college football.

There will be a Belichick and a Carroll on Washington’s coaching staff.

Just maybe not the ones you know.

Steve Belichick — the son of legendary coach and six-time Super Bowl champion Bill Belichick — will be UW’s next defensive coordinator, the program announced Tuesday. Steve Belichick served on his father’s New England staff from 2012 to 2023, calling the Patriots’ defensive plays each of the past four seasons.

In Seattle, he’ll share a staff with UW offensive coordinator and offensive-line coach Brennan Carroll — the son of longtime Seahawks coach Pete Carroll — who served the same role for each of the last three seasons under UW coach Jedd Fisch at Arizona.

Belichick, 36, held several positions in New England — operating as the Patriots’ defensive assistant (2012-15), safeties coach (2016-19) and outside-linebackers coach (2020-23). He’ll hold a defensive-coordinator title for the first time in what’s also his first foray into college football.

But Belichick’s success boils down to more than blood.

“Now when I look at him, I think his growth has come because of the honesty — not coming in saying, ‘My dad is Bill Belichick. I was born to coach. I’m going to do this,’” former Patriots safety Devin McCourty said on New England teammate Chris Long’s Green Light podcast last March. “No, he came in and was like, ‘I’m going to learn from some veterans that I’ve got in this room, take advantage of that opportunity that I get, and I’m going to grow as a coach.’”

Belichick isn’t the only Patriots assistant moving to Montlake. Former Alabama safety Vinnie Sunseri — who spent the past three seasons as New England’s running-backs coach — has joined Fisch’s staff as well. He’s expected to tutor UW’s defensive backs, alongside Husky secondary coach John Richardson.

Fisch is plenty familiar with both Belichick and Sunseri, having served as the Patriots’ quarterbacks coach in 2020.

“Great to have the NFL Pipeline here at Montlake!” Fisch posted on social media Tuesday.

And though a 4-13 season prompted Bill Belichick’s departure in New England this winter, the Patriots defense continued to perform. Steve Belichick called plays for a unit that finished the regular season leading the NFL in opponent yards per carry (3.3), while ranking fourth in opponent yards per play (4.7), fifth in opponent first downs (305), seventh in total defense (301.6 yards allowed per game), 10th in opponent yards per pass attempt (5.8) and 15th in scoring defense (21.5 points allowed per game).

Pressure, however, was not one of the Patriots strong suits. Though New England ranked No. 4 in blitz percentage (blitzing on 35.2% of defensive snaps), the Patriots produced just 36 sacks — sixth fewest in the NFL.

Fisch effectively foreshadowed Belichick’s hire last month, when describing his vision for UW’s defense.

“We want to get it right in regards to having an NFL-style system on defense,” he said. “Sometimes you bounce around too many different systems and you don’t necessarily have that one that is sustainable, that you want forever. We want to be able to live in the world of a four-down front with a mixture of odd principles. We want to be able to pressure the quarterback.

“But most importantly, we have to be able to play man-to-man coverage. I think that’s where coach [Bill] Belichick has been a separator in his career. His teams play the best man-to-man coverage. We need to be able to do that to have the extra guy in the box to play good defense.”

Of course, that’s easier said than done. UW is currently projected to return just two defensive starters from a unit that earned a Pac-12 championship and a national championship game appearance this winter: senior linebacker Alphonzo Tuputala and junior cornerback Elijah Jackson.

As UW transitions into the Big Ten Conference, both Belichick and Sunseri will have to prove themselves as prolific recruiters.

And though their college coaching experience is limited, their NFL track record could prove a recruiting plus.

“Without a doubt, we feel [our NFL experience] is our north star, our biggest sell,” Fisch said last month. “I’ve been in NFL draft rooms for 14 years. I know what they look for. I know what they want to see. I know what the real conversations are — not what people think. People who have never coached in the NFL … you don’t know what practice looks and feels like. You may have visited a practice once, but when you go through it every day you understand.

“What does it look like to coach for Bill Belichick? What is a team meeting like? What does it feel like in a staff room with Sean McVay, Pete Carroll, Mike Shanahan, Brian Billick — guys who have won Super Bowls, who have run meeting after meeting, practice after practice? So, we sell that every day.”

Steve Belichick graduated from Rutgers University, where he primarily played lacrosse but also served as a long snapper on the football team in 2011. His brother, Brian Belichick, served on the Patriots’ staff as well — first as a coaching assistant (2017-19) and then the safeties coach (2020-23).

Sunseri, meanwhile, played safety under Nick Saban at Alabama and later returned as a graduate assistant for the Crimson Tide in 2019. The 32-year-old Pittsburgh product was selected by the Saints in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL draft and played three professional seasons. He joined the Patriots staff as a defensive coaching assistant in 2020, before flipping to the offensive side a year later.

The additions of Belichick and Sunseri leave Fisch with a single vacancy on his staff, likely for a linebackers coach. FootballScoop reported Monday that William Inge, UW’s co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach each of the last two seasons, will join former Husky coach Kalen DeBoer at Alabama.

Meanwhile, UW’s other two new defensive assistants — Richardson and defensive-line coach/run-game coordinator Jason Kaufasi — followed Fisch from Arizona. Fisch brought the entirety of his offensive staff from Tucson, Ariz., to Seattle as well.

And though Bill Belichick — who it does not appear will coach this fall — won’t have an official role on UW’s staff, he may still be involved.

“A wild card [NFL head-coach candidate] that probably shouldn’t be a wild card would be Stevie B — Steve Belichick,” McCourty said last March. “He’s a Belichick. He’s now been the coordinator — I know it’s not on paper — but he’s been the coordinator for the last three or four years, and his defenses have all performed well.

“And it’s a combination between him and [new Patriots head coach Jerod] Mayo running it. But I think obviously, if you hire him, you still get Bill. You still get everything that he’s done. You get his knowledge, because he’s not just going to leave his son. But I think both of those guys will have the chance to be head coaches someday.”

Steve Belichick will stop in Seattle first.

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