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This is what Pete Carroll believes about QBs that 99-percent of Twitter doesn't understand
Few coaches have a more defined track record than the Seahawks' Carroll, but fans keep expecting him to change his philosophy after trading Russell Wilson
It must be torture.
To have spent every day since the Russell Wilson trade expecting Pete Carroll to trade for or sign a quarterback significantly better than Drew Lock, for no reason at all based on any historical evidence we have to draw from over 12 previous years in the organization.
Think of all the bullets you’ve taken because of that expectation.
Deshaun Watson? No. Matt Ryan? No. Settle for Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota? No.
Think of all the bullets you’ve dodged if, like me, you’re excited for next year.
But based on how Pete Carroll operated the Seahawks’ transition from Matt Hasselbeck (who was essentially the same age when Carroll was hired in 2010 as how old Wilson is today) to “the future” in 2010, it could be that I take the bullets next year.
Because Pete Carroll does not view the quarterback position as the most important position in football. At least, he doesn’t think that quarterbacks ever come before the team, and he doesn’t believe that quarterbacks are as God-like and singular as the impression of them you might get on Twitter.
Carroll, who started coaching football in 1973 (when NCAA’s leading passer, Jesse Freitas, had 347 attempts), and who joined the NFL for the first time in 1984 (when Dave Krieg threw 24 interceptions… and made the Pro Bowl), and who turned Matt Leinart into a Heisman-winning national champion by putting him in the buddy system with Reggie Bush and Lendale White, does not agree with Twitter about how teams become most successful.
That does not mean that he is right.
That does not mean that you or I have to agree with him.
What that means is: You’re needlessly taking bullets when you sit on your phone all day waiting for news to break that the Seahawks will add one of the quarterbacks—who doesn't make any sense for Pete Carroll.
Are you expecting Seattle to do what you want ahead of what Pete Carroll wants?
Because Carroll still wants to run the football. And he wants a quarterback who understands that and who will help the Seahawks offense lead the league in rushing, not passing yards. Not pass attempts. Not passing touchdowns. Not even scoring.
We do have to go back over a decade to find Seattle’s last search for a franchise quarterback, but thankfully we have a defined record of what Pete Carroll said and did between the inheritance of Matt Hasselbeck and the lottery ticket known as Russell Wilson. And we know that by Pete’s own words following the Wilson trade, he’s not interested in changing his philosophies; he’s only interested in finding people who mesh well with what he believes in.
At no point in my life, your life, or Pete’s life, do I believe there’s ever been any question that “run the football” and “play defense” is how Carroll expects to win football games.
So what would that have to do with trading out a $50 million per year quarterback for a $40 million quarterback like Ryan or Watson?
There’s no connection other than the one created by fans to fill in the gaps that exist between “What Seahawks tend to do at QB”, “What I want Seahawks to do at QB”, and “What media tells me is important about a franchise QB.”
What media tells you: “You need to have Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, or Joe Burrow to get to the Super Bowl. They’re, above all else, pretty cool, right?”
I agree, they’re cool. Pete thinks they’re cool too. He thinks Wilson is cool. He also won a Super Bowl with “Mr. Cool” during a season in which the Seattle Seahawks ranked 31st in pass attempts. The Seahawks then reached back-to-back Super Bowls after a season in which Seattle was 32nd in pass attempts.
Seattle was second in rushing attempts both years. The Seahawks were 1st in rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, and yards per carry in 2014.
Despite the Seahawks’ final play choice of that season, Pete Carroll was and is obsessed with running the football.
The next choices made at quarterback will continue to reflect that, just as it was reflected by Carroll’s decision to draft and start Russell Wilson in 2012. It was only after Wilson won a Super Bowl and strung together many seasons of highly-efficient play that Carroll began to acquiesce to the QB and the public’s demands to “let him cook” and I bet that the coach has never felt good about that half-season.
It didn’t fit him. He came here to run the football and chew bubble gum… and Pete never runs out of bubble gum.
Though the decline and departure of Marshawn Lynch was no doubt a contributing factor, Seattle started to pass the ball more after 2014: 28th in pass attempts in 2015, 18th in 2016, 16th in 2017, 32nd(!) in 2018, 23rd in 2019, 17th in 2020, and finally 31st in 2021.
It might seem like Carroll got his way in 2021, but keep in mind that the Seahawks were also 27th in rushing attempts last year because Seattle’s offense was so bad that they ran the fewest plays in the NFL. Carroll would prefer that the Seahawks run the most in the NFL and that it gives Seattle the most amount of offensive plays, the greatest advantage in time of possession, and the longest amount of resting time for his defensive players.
That was a formula that took Carroll two and a half seasons to figure out when he first joined the Seahawks in 2010—Seattle’s offense was putrid until Wilson arrived, an understandable factor in fan panic without Wilson today, but we can’t leave out that what made Wilson so special during those early years was not how he “carried” the team.
It was how Wilson had no choice but to let the Seahawks “carry him” and that as a young player, his best role among experienced veterans like Lynch and Zach Miller was to figure out how to serve and complement everyone else.
That is truly what ALL of the great quarterbacks do: They make every other player around them better. They don’t think “How can I be surrounded by talent that makes me better."
It was 12 years ago that Carroll and Schneider inherited one of the best quarterbacks of the aughts at making those around him better—even if he wasn’t ever going to be a true star on his own—yet there was never a vision for Carroll with Matt Hasselbeck that would go past that first season. Rather than panicking over “not-Seahawks” options like Matt Ryan who don’t make sense for Seattle’s current roster (Ryan’s 2022 cap hit essentially absorbs all of what the Seahawks currently have), I think fans should embrace patience and realize that everything Carroll does is filtered through a “run-first” focus.
This also means that 2022 is destined to look as rough as 2010 did, but Carroll is hoping to avoid that hopeless feeling through the ground game. Not the air.
Carroll noted in 2010 that it took basically half of a season for him and Hasselbeck to get on the same page, and that was with a professional veteran quarterback who had been in the NFL for 12 years, had made 117 career starts, and took a team to the Super Bowl:
“We’ve come together on it, really,” Carroll said after Sunday’s game. “I think it took some time for us to kind of get together on our thinking, Matt understanding and us understanding Matt.
“I think we’ve really kind of cut him loose.”
Hasselbeck finished 2010 with 12 touchdowns and 17 interceptions, losing ground at one point to Charlie Whitehurst but ultimately winning the job back and leading the Seahawks to a playoff victory in his second-to-last game with the franchise. Carroll doesn’t have a veteran on the roster now and he might not add one; he didn’t choose Hasselbeck, he simply stuck with a bridge quarterback who was already in Seattle.
For Lock, it seems that Carroll could view him as the “Charlie Whitehurst” of Seattle’s roster this time around. Carroll noted that by adding Whitehurst before the 2010 NFL Draft, the Seahawks were getting a guy “ahead of a college guy coming out.” The Seahawks weren’t ruling out drafting a QB in 2010, Carroll was just more satisfied having Whitehurst, a player going into his fifth NFL season.
Lock is going into his fourth NFL season.
Carroll and Schneider have also gushed over Lock’s “hose” since the trade, similar to how Schneider obsessed with Whitehurst back in 2010:
“I saw Charlie throw on a really, really cold nasty day,” Schneider said, noting he also saw Whitehurst in a game a year later. “I was just extremely impressed and had a hard time getting him out of my mind. I just always had Charlie in the back of my mind. There are just certain things you see when you’re at a workout like that, and it’s hard to get that out of your head.”
Of a competition between Hasselbeck and Whitehurst, Carroll had no qualms about ‘disrespecting’ the veteran by opening up the starting job. I wouldn’t expect 2022 to be any different:
“He’s done a great job in the program, we’re excited about him coming and leading this program, but in all phases of our program, in every aspect of it, we’re trying to make it as competitive as possible, and so Charlie is coming in here to battle. He’s going to show where he fits into the whole thing.
But even after trading for Whitehurst, Carroll and Schneider said “Absolutely not” when it comes to ruling out a quarterback in the draft, even the first round. This will be their same answer in 2022 for the draft but I will be shocked if Malik Willis, Kenny Pickett, or any other potential first round quarterback is on the Seahawks in May.
Instead, you should go tell all your Seahawks friends two things:
Pete Carroll has shown an insane affinity for offensive linemen and defensive linemen who go early in the draft, so given that Seattle needs both of those things… whatchu think is gonna happen in a QB-weak draft class?
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In addition to trading for Whitehurst and keeping Hasselbeck, Carroll also signed former first round pick J.P. Losman in 2010. Cut at the end of training camp, but later brought back, Losman serves as a probable precursor to the Seahawks adding an underwhelming veteran like Mike Glennon or Trevor Siemian. All QB options here.
Carroll ran a pro style offense at USC and that prepared him to run a pro style offense with the Seahawks.
In many ways it appears Carroll has been preparing for this opportunity the past nine years. At USC he never succumbed to the seduction of running offensive schemes such as spread-option offenses that are sweeping the country. His offenses remained pro-style in every facet. So did his defenses. And he was able to produce 35 active NFL players.
He wasn’t concerned about finding a way to lead the league in passing. Though “pro style offense” has a new definition in 2022 than it did in 2010, it won’t change that Carroll has never shown affection for spread offenses or passing the ball a lot. Even with a great quarterback on the offense for 10 years.
"If you have great effort, you have great enthusiasm, you have great toughness about your program and you play smart and do things right you have a chance to be a pretty good football team just from that," Carroll said Tuesday during a press conference introducing him.
The Seahawks parted with Hasselbeck in 2011, kept Whitehurst, and Tarvaris Jackson as a “starter” but one who still had to win the job in training camp:
"In this situation, to make things the most competitive for our team, Tarvaris needs to be our starter right now," Carroll said Saturday morning during his first media availability of Seattle's training camp. "He comes in as our starter, he's going to own that position."
Carroll said Charlie Whitehurst will compete for the starting job once he gets caught up on Bevell's offense.
Jackson kept the starting job, for a little while, but not enough for Seattle to rest on their laurels in 2012. The Seahawks signed Matt Flynn and though much has been made about his contract over the years, he wasn’t promised anything:
Flynn admitted that Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll was "a lot of fun" and "we really hit it off." And despite not "(knowing) anybody up there except the GM, John Schneider," it was still the best place for him. (Schneider was a member of the Packers' front office when the team drafted Flynn in 2008.)
So did Carroll promise Flynn the starting job? "No," he said. The plan is to let Flynn and incumbent Tarvaris Jackson compete for the gig although you'd have to imagine that Flynn is the favorite.
Then of course, the Seahawks drafted Wilson, but as a third round pick he was a longshot to do more than serve as a backup in 2012.
I expect Seattle to keep adding “longshots” until someone finally sticks like Wilson did, and overreaching for “the best of a bad bunch that’s available” goes completely against everything that Pete Carroll has told us about himself through his actions over 50 YEARS in football.
In the wake of trading Wilson for a bounty that includes a high draft pick in a draft class rich with offensive line help at the top and Drew Lock, Carroll has re-signed Rashaad Penny and Will Dissly, signed Austin Blythe, and so far has held onto Chris Carson. He’s done nothing to imply that the Seahawks’ greatest need is to add a quarterback to help Seattle’s passing game.
Back in a 2010 hit piece by SI, Carroll noted that the Seahawks are great because they allow him to do what he wants to do, something he didn’t get with the Jets or Patriots. Less than three years later, he became one of the few men to win championships at both college and the NFL levels.
"I'm confident in who I am," he says. "That's the great thing about [being] here. They didn't ask me to change anything about the manner in which I operate."
The hit pieces are coming, if you haven’t already read six of them by this afternoon. But because Carroll and Schneider are still with the Seahawks, I imagine that Jody Allen hasn’t put reins on the regime. So therefore, you shouldn’t expect the Seahawks to stop doing what Carroll’s been doing since he got to Seattle.
99-percent of Twitter thinks the Seahawks need a quarterback to be good again.
Pete Carroll doesn’t agree. So stop torturing yourselves.
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