Browner has seen both sides of spectrum playing for Seahawks, Pats
CHANDLER, Ariz. — When it comes to public perception, Seattle’s Pete Carroll and New England’s Bill Belichick are on the opposite ends of the spectrum.
Carroll is regarded as a "player’s coach" whose easy-going demeanor is reflected through a roster with unfiltered free spirits like Marshawn Lynch, Richard Sherman and Michael Bennett. Belichick comes across as such a Draconian leader that the gambling website Bovada is offering a prop bet about whether he will be shown smiling on television during the Super Bowl — and "yes" is the underdog.
"What you see on TV is what you get pretty much from the two," Patriots cornerback Brandon Browner said.
Nobody in Sunday’s game will know this better than him.
Browner joined New England in the 2014 offseason after spending the previous three seasons in Seattle. He was warned in advance that culture shock was coming.
"When I got up here and was going through the signing process, guys kind of tried to scare me," Browner said. "They told me (Belichick) was tough. They said we do things differently around here, which we do."
Belichick peppers his players with pop quizzes early in the week to ensure they are preparing for the upcoming opponent. Any statements that can spark media interest are frowned upon, which Browner learned the hard way when recently telling ESPN that the Patriots should target two injured members of Seattle’s secondary. Browner spent this week explaining that it was only "competitive nature" that prompted him to say New England should break the bones of cornerback Richard Sherman (elbow) and free safety Earl Thomas (shoulder) if it could.
"Those are my brothers," said Browner, who added he has shared a laugh with Sherman about his comments through text messages. "At the end of the day, there are no hard feelings.
"You have a guy that messes his ankle up, and you’re going to tackle and make sure you land on his ankle. If a guy messes his shoulder up, then you tackle him and land on his shoulder. That’s just a part of the game."
Browner said in Seattle that players would play basketball in the meeting rooms before practice and music would be blaring in the hallways. There’s none of that in New England.
"We do a lot of running (and) conditioning after practice," Browner said. "I have never really been on a professional team where they did that. That was something they did in high school. At the end of the day, that benefits us. Where our condition is, it is sometimes better than the opponents."
Browner, who committed an NFL-high 15 defensive penalties in just nine games, says he is trying to become a more disciplined player at Belichick’s urging. Browner described Belichick as being "old-school" and "hard-nosed" compared to a "great guy" like Carroll who "keeps it looser."
Both approaches obviously work since Seattle and New England are playing for a Lombardi Trophy.
Browner also said Carroll and Belichick share far more in common than on the surface.
"Their football IQ is the exact same," Browner said. "Belichick this week broke down some of the philosophies that Pete Carroll likes. Sitting back, I felt like I was listening to Pete talk to me. Over in Seattle, he talks about the ball, and that was one of the things Belichick said to us. He said it in the exact words in order, ‘It’s about the ball,’ just the same as Pete Carroll says it."
After washing out as a rookie with the Denver Broncos, Browner relaunched his NFL career with the Seahawks following four seasons with Calgary in the Canadian Football League. It was Belichick who gave Browner the chance to get back on track following his 2013 drug suspension that caused him to miss Seattle’s postseason run and the first four games of this season.
"It meant a lot," said Browner, 30. "Him bringing me in just shows that he sees the ballplayer in me. It wasn’t about all this stuff that happened to me in the past. He found a place for me where I fit. I am blessed for the opportunity."
Browner received a Super Bowl ring for his contributions to last season, but that served as little consolation while he was watching the Seahawks crush Denver at home with family members.
"It was tough," Browner said.
Browner has the chance to make a direct impact on New England’s championship aspirations. Pairing him with fellow free-agent signing Darrelle Revis, the Patriots now have two cornerbacks who can play sound press coverage. At 6 feet 4, Browner also is big and physical enough to handle tight ends. The Browner-Revis pairing has allowed New England to vary its defensive looks and take more chances with its front seven.’
"If they want to, they can put those two guys on islands," Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. "That lets them be more creative with rushes and pressures and that sort of thing."
Browner said he tried offering Belichick advice on the Seahawks, but it seemed his coach "had the guys down pat." The next step for Browner is putting down his former team in his first matchup against Seattle at University of Phoenix Stadium.
"It is a little extra special," Browner said. "Winning the game will be more special."