Super Bowl 2015: What the Bengals Can Learn

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Jan 26, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; A general view of Wilson footballs with Super Bowl XLIX logos at NFL Experience at the Phoenix Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Super Bowl 2015 features two of the NFL’s best teams.  The New England Patriots have been amongst the league’s elite since 2001.  In a league that’s been relentless in its pursuit of parity, the Patriots have “bucked the trend” and become the template for sustained success.  Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick have been brilliant in this way, so emulating their approach to running an organization isn’t a bad idea.

Meanwhile, the Seattle Seahawks have built a foundation for such sustained success.  Over the past few years, the Seahawks have acquired much talent and youth, and have found playoff success because of it.  They have gone 36-12 in the regular season and 6-1 in the playoffs while earning two playoff byes in the last three seasons.  If the Seahawks win on Sunday, they’ll be the first team to win back-to-back Super Bowls since the Patriots did it in 2003 and 2004.  Clearly, the Seahawks are beginning to find the kind of sustained success the Patriots have over the years.

It’s this kind of success that most teams strive for and many should learn from.  So, what specifically can the Bengals learn from these two organizations?

Embrace Change

Once upon a time, the Patriots were laughingstocks the way the Bengals were.  Bill Parcells took over as the team’s head coach and turned the team into a contender.  Yet, things were not peachy between he and Robert Kraft and eventually the two moved on from one another following their Super Bowl loss to the Packers in 1997.

January 26, 2015; Chandler, AZ, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during a press conference after their arrival in preparation for Super Bowl XLIX at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Hotel. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Ironically, the team then hired Pete Carroll.  Carroll found mediocre success in New England, but this wasn’t enough for the Patriots.  Kraft decided to make another change, this time hiring Bill Belichick, and the rest is history.

Mediocrity wasn’t enough for this team and so they chose to change.  It’s hardly the only example of change over the years for the Patriots, but it’s an excellent example of their willingness to embrace the concept.

As for the Seahawks, there was also a time where they emulated a much more recent version of the Bengals.  The Seahawks employed Mike Holmgren as the team’s head coach for a decade (1999-2008).  Over those years, the Seahawks found some real success, which included six playoffs appearances (five in a row from 2003-07) and one Super Bowl appearance.

Holmgren announced he’d be leaving the team after the 2008 season and the Seahawks tabbed Jim Mora, a defensive coach at the time, as his successor.  Holmgren’s “lame duck” year was a disaster (4-12) and the Seahawks happily moved on.  Mora found little success beyond Holmgren’s final year, and the team chose to move on from him just a year into his tenure.  The Seahawks eventually hired Pete Carroll and the improvements began quickly culminating into what the team is today.  Again, change is good and can catalyze success.

Next: What Else Can the Bengals learn?