A (Fictional) Chat with Carroll

I found a transcript of a great presentation Pete Carroll gave to a Nike High School Coaches Clinic. In it, Pete Carroll talks very directly about his coaching philosophies on offense and defense (though the main discussion is on the 4-3 Under defense, definitely worth a read). Right now, a lot of us are wondering what things are going to look like in 2010, how the defense will look, how the offense will approach the game, and so forth. I thought I would take ask the questions I’ve had, and let Pete answer them for us. Sit back and enjoy this fictional interview:  

In this photo, I am represented by the football

SA: What is the Head Coach’s Role?


PC: My role as head coach is very simple.  I have to orchestrate the performance of our players on game day.  When you realize all that you have to do it can be overwhelming.  If I can get game day performance to its height and get our players playing well then I can blend together the things I need to do to get that mix.

SA: What is your coaching philosophy?

PC: Philosophy is like a rail road track.  If you are off the tracks you have a bumpy road to travel.  You know something is wrong but you do not know how to fix it.  The philosophy is the guideline that puts you back on the track.  My philosophy about our football team is really simple.  It is all about the ball.  In all areas of football game if you don’t have the ball you are nothing.

On offense, we want to take care of the football for as long as we can until we score. Every phase of our offense has to be geared to taking care of the ball.  That means not turning the ball over.  We want to guard the ball with our lives.  If we can do that on offense then we have a chance.  We want to constantly remind the team of possessing the ball.  When our players are standing around with a ball in their hands a coach will walk over and try to knock the ball out of his hands.  We do it on the sidelines at a game, in practice, or anywhere to remind them of how important it is.  There has to be a conscious mind set of taking care of the ball. 

SA: What about on Defense?

PC: We play defense not just to stop people or make them go three and out.  We play defense to get the football.  Every time the ball is snapped the defense tries to take the ball away from the offense.  If the defense can take the ball away from the offense they are going to give it to the offense which is going to keep it until they can score.  The offense can not score without the football.  For that matter the defense can score if they get possession of the football.

SA: What sort of defense do you run, and why?

PC:  I worked as an assistant at Arkansas in the ’70s, and I got to work with Monte Kiffin’s staff on defense.  He is just an unbelievable coach.  He ran a 4-3 under defense that he perfected at Nebraska and they won a national title and many conference titles while he was there in the 1970’s.  He brought that same defense to Arkansas.  I have been running that same base defense since 1977 when I learned it from him.  I have used variations of this defense my entire career.  I have stayed with its principles through all my years of coaching.  I have a real strong belief in this defense.  I know the defense and its adjustments so well that my belief system in it is strong and rock solid.

SA: The Seahawks have long been a 4-3 team, but what about other adjustments? It took all year for them to start clicking under Mora, and even then, they really didn’t click well.

PC: If there are things that we would like to do but we don’t execute well, we don’t do them. We have to have all our schemes, clock management, and game plans in order.  If we don’t have them in order,we don’t attempt to do them on game day.  I have found over the years that the more you try to do the thinner you spread yourself.  The thinner you spread yourself the more apt you are to make mistakes and errors.

SA: Thanks for standing up and talking to high school coaches a few years ago so I could stumble upon the transcript and pretend this was an interview. Any last words?

PC: I’m jacked up!