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Pete Carroll has earned the right to build the Seahawks his way, and you have the right to disagree
It's okay to say that the Seahawks have had a great coach, even if you want them to have a new coach
If you look at the three major professional sports franchises in Seattle that go back at least 25 or more years, the Seahawks, Mariners, or Sonics, does any coach’s resume even stand close to Pete Carroll’s?
The only two to have even won a championship are Carroll and Lenny Wilkens. (If you wanted me to mention the Storm, they have won four different championships by four different coaches.)
No coach in Seattle’s history has a longer tenure than Carroll, who is in his 13th season as the Seahawks head coach and de facto general manager. Lou Piniella and Mike Holmgren are next with 10 seasons. (If you wanted me to mention the Sounders, and allow me to plead ignorance beyond what I can find on Wiki, then Sigi Schmid spent seven years in Seattle.)
There has rarely ever been consistency for a head coach like Carroll, and that’s whether you’re comparing him just to Seahawks head coaches or to everybody else in NFL history. Carroll has guided Seattle to winning seasons in nine of 12 seasons, to at least 10 wins in eight seasons, and had a positive point differential in each of the last 11 seasons; through 12 campaigns, Carroll had never lost 10 games before, until finally 2021 put a 17th game on the schedule. That’s what finally got him.
Holmgren, the second-most successful coach in Seahawks history, had a positive point differential in only 4 of 10 seasons, and Seattle won 11 or more games only once. Carroll has won 11 or more games five times.
Chuck Knox won more than 10 games only once. No other coach in Seahawks history besides Carroll (8x), Holmgren (3x), or Knox (2x) have won at least 10 games in a single season.
And few other coaches in the city’s history, if any, have been as consistently active and concerned with being involved with the local community than Pete Carroll has been. Whether you think that’s “only for show” or not, Carroll has no less spent decades—from 10 years in LA to 12 years in Seattle—preaching positive messages to players and fans, while staying out of the headlines entirely for character damaging reasons.
That’s not necessarily easy to do when the start of your NFL career goes back almost 40 years, you’ve been head coach of the Patriots and Jets, and nine seasons as a national championship-winning mentor at USC.
No Jon Gruden e-mails.
No Urban Meyer nights on the town.
No Sean Payton bounties.
No Bruce Arians putdowns to his players.
If the worst you can come up with over 40 years is that Pete Carroll helped Reggie Bush feel like the star that he was at USC and did the same things that every major college coach does, then give that man the Nobel Peace Prize and give Bush his Heisman back.
Or maybe the worst that some Seahawks fans can come up with is… “He was too excited when Seattle was winning a lot.” That cad.
For the crime of going 7-10 and agreeing to trade Russell Wilson after Russell Wilson made it known that he was interested in being traded, Pete Carroll has become a source of ridicule for that subsect of Seahawks fans who will never be happy for longer than five minutes after a win, or five seconds after scoring a touchdown.
Touchdowns and wins are only roadblocks towards misery. Hurdles between hate. Some people, knowingly or unknowingly, even prefer seeing Carroll do something “Carroll”-like, such as punting from an opponent’s 40, or running on second-and-10, because they’re feeding the side of their character that always feels hungriest: anger.
It’s like they’re anger zombies.
Since the Seahawks are coming off of their first last place finish in the division since 1996 (Carroll had only previously ever finished lower than second in the NFC West one time, in 2011) it seems like 2022 has been an opportunity for the never-happies to have their day in court; to filibuster this argument of whether or not the Seahawks are doing “the right thing” of allowing Carroll to do the job he was hired to do, which does include having the final say in trading the franchise quarterback, by only ever interjecting with negative inputs.
Carroll can’t say that Wilson initiated a trade request, even if Wilson did initiate a trade request, without it being spun that he’s “putting the blame on Russ.”
Carroll can’t say that he’s sorry for not handling the Bobby Wagner release better last week without it being spun that he and John Schneider “treat outgoing players like crap” instead of it just being a mistake that they made during the busiest time of the offseason.
And in the wake of trading Wilson, creating an opportunity for the Seahawks to have their first training camp and Week 1 starting quarterback who isn’t Wilson for the first time since 2011, we’ll see that for certain fans and some prominent members of the media, nothing that Carroll and Schneider do to fill that role will be treated fairly.
Mostly because if you’ve followed Pete Carroll’s 40-year career at all, then you know that he’s not going to make a fantasy football trade or use a top-10 draft pick on a quarterback. How many people are mad at Pete because he’s doing things “his way” and how many are mad at Pete because they’re “not doing things my way”?
Any head coach, no matter who they are, should only ever be hired to do things their way. If they lose that sense of philosophy and start doing things based on what they think will be popular with others—like "letting Russ cook” for example—then by definition they start losing whatever it is that made them the right person for the job in the first place.
By doing things his way, Pete Carroll became the most successful coach in the city of Seattle’s history. If Pete Carroll doesn’t set the bar for greatness as a leader and head coach—and that’s including if you think he’s not the right person for the job right now, which I believe is also a defensible opinion—then no coach can ever please you. Ever.
When the Seahawks don’t trade for a big name like Matt Ryan or Baker Mayfield, it’ll be because they were “asleep” instead of working the phones. When they do finally make an acquisition for a quarterback who isn’t remarkably more interesting than Drew Lock, it’ll be because they “don’t understand modern football.” Not because of the real reasons, which is that good quarterbacks rarely change teams and Seattle will be unwilling to sacrifice their newly-found draft capital for merely “above-average.” Worst of all, when the Seahawks don’t draft Malik Willis in April, instead choosing a right tackle, a center, or an All-American nose tackle, Carroll and Schneider will be lambasted at least as furiously as teams like the Panthers, Broncos, and Eagles were for passing on Justin Fields in 2021.
Forget if the player they choose is a better prospect; “You didn’t do what I wanted you to do.”
Disagree with Pete Carroll as much as you want to disagree with him. We won’t find any shortage of fans and media—the circle of life, bouncing the same ideas back against one another until infinity—who will eagerly tell you that “a football team that values running backs and defense more than quarterbacks is not a football team I want to watch in 2022.” That’s fine. That’s VALID. You should want to be entertained by whatever it is you follow for entertainment.
But know that your opinions of how the Seahawks should operate are only as relevant as the debates you have with your friends and your enemies, and the only way for the Seahawks to actually be successful is if the head coach is getting his way. Winning in spite of a head coach is like getting rich by winning the lottery, instead of working hard to earn a living.
Hey, either puts bread on the table. But only one of those strategies is sound.
I’m stunned that after 12 years and more success than any other coach in Seattle’s history, any fan would still be questioning if Carroll deserves to try it his way.
Pete Carroll and John Schneider met with the media on Wednesday to discuss trading Russell Wilson. Here are a handful of thoughts I had about it:
If you are live-tweeting a press conference, are you actually listening to it?
Pete said something along the lines of “As you apply your philosophy on the players, it changes things. But you don’t change your philosophy.” Making my predictions, I think, all the more relevant. I believe that forecasting Seattle’s draft pick decisions should be EASY, but many will make it very hard on themselves by talking about quarterbacks.
Pete kept emphasizing “second chances” and then people turned that into whatever narrative they were hoping for, like Deshaun Watson or Baker Mayfield or choose-your-own-adventure. I don’t think he’s talking in code. I think he’s just talking about his philosophies and giving a general reason for why the Seahawks will continue to do what they do.
There were a lot of comments about Pete and John endorsing Drew Lock and getting up in arms over the idea that Lock could be the starter. A) Yes, Lock could be the starter. Your world won’t fall apart if he is. B) Teams hype up temporary QB starters every single year and Lock won’t be the favorite going into camp because Seattle will pick up somebody else. They weren’t going to say, “Yeah, he kinda sucks, but what’s the risk in us giving him a second chance?”
All that Pete said was that Colin Kaepernick contacted him. He didn’t say that Kaepernick asked for a tryout. I think Pete did his best to imply “He won’t be signed by us, but I root for him” without outright saying that.
Schneider calls newly-acquired Shelby Harris a three-tech, which is interesting because Harris is a 6’2, 290 lb pass rusher. You will not find many sub-300 defensive tackles in the NFL… Aaron Donald is one of the few. Harris has 14.5 sacks and 28 QB hits over his last 43 games.
The way that John Schneider was gushing over tight end Noah Fant, I expect a contract extension to be coming soon. Fant has a fifth-year option for 2023, but Seattle can afford to pay him early and hope he blossoms in their system after they sign him.
No shortage of love for Cody Barton either. I suspect that as of today, Pete sees Barton and Jordyn Brooks as the starting linebackers and that he’d be content with keeping it that way through the draft.
Schneider clearly wants to draft a quarterback, and Pete clearly fights him on those decisions as much as he possibly can. But I also fully believe that Schneider has complete faith that fantastic QBs can be found AFTER the first round: Brett Favre (who Schneider mentioned more than once), Mark Brunell (Schneider was a scout in Green Bay when the Packers picked Brunell in the fifth), and of course Russell Wilson. Schneider was also in Green Bay when the team picked a sliding Aaron Rodgers and I’m sure Seattle would jump at a similar opportunity if they saw one; but there’s so much evidence out there that you don’t need to draft a QB in the top-10 in order to set yourself at the position. Look for the Seahawks to set their offense up first, then seek a quarterback in round three or later.
Who is the best coach in SEATTLE history?
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