Huskies defensive coaches learned from New England Patriots this offseason

SEATTLE — As part of his understandable desire to be a good guest, Jimmy Lake doesn’t want to divulge much about what he learned from his trip — along with the rest of the Huskies defensive coaches — to observe the New England Patriots during organized team activities this summer.

But he will say this much: “I have a notepad full of notes from that visit, and I’ll be using that for the rest of my career, some of the stuff that I’ve learned.”

College coaches frequently visit NFL teams — and even other colleges — in an effort to gather ideas and techniques to aid in their own professional development. The Huskies, for example, have a strong relationship with the Seattle Seahawks, and have visited their facility multiple times in coach Chris Petersen’s four years at UW.

This year alone, Lake said he visited the Patriots, the Seahawks, the Los Angeles Rams and the Arizona Cardinals. But there might be something a little more beneficial about a visit to a franchise like New England, the reigning Super Bowl champions and winners of five championships since 2001.

“They’re a classy outfit,” defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski said. “We were privileged for them to let us in. Football’s football. There’s nothing earth-shattering that they’re doing. But they’re pretty organized. Their results speak for themselves. They just do a great job.”

Asked last month which football coaches he most admires, Petersen named Patriots coach Bill Belichick and Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, adding “I think those two styles couldn’t be more different, and equally successful.” Lake said he’s read two books about Belichick, “so it was awesome for me to go watch to see how a championship NFL team operates.”

“Any time you can watch a franchise that has had that much success, and one of the best coaches to ever coach in our game operate … it was a really big-time learning experience.”


The Huskies are ranked No. 7 in the preseason USA Today coaches poll, their highest preseason ranking since debuting at No. 4 in 1997.

UW finished last season with a 12-2 record after a loss to Alabama in the semifinal round of the College Football Playoff. The Huskies were ranked No. 4 in the final coaches and Associated Press polls.

Petersen, in typical fashion, dismissed any talk of UW’s ranking.

“You want to talk about polls?” Petersen said. “Let’s talk at the end of the year. I’m all ears, they’re all ears. That doesn’t mean anything. There’s not a team in the country that cares about what our ranking is coming in.”

Three other Pac-12 teams are ranked in the preseason coaches poll — USC (No. 4), Stanford (No. 14) and Utah (No. 25). Washington State landed just outside the top 25, receiving the 26th-most votes.