After The Kool Aid – The New Regime

I was one who drank the kool aid with Mora’s hire and even bought in to Knapp and his top ten running game hype. Mora had by all accounts put together a good staff of up and comers and veteran coaches and kept the cream of Holmgren’s prior staff including most notably Solari. At that time, I never would have believed that we would only win one more game than in 2008. I think a majority of us believed that we would be competitive for the division again. Winning all 4 pre-season games even though we all know doesn’t count for much still brought even more fans to the bandwagon. Then we kicked the Rams ass in the first regular season game and we were all drinking it in big gulps. In San Francisco, Hass got hurt and others followed. After losing the next three and then smacking a decent Jaguars team 41 – 0, most of us were perplexed but still hopeful. We had important players injured and besides, injuries are a great excuse for a slow start.

Most of us bought into the injuries excuse and our hopes were pinned on getting everyone back healthy plus Marcus Trufant and Walter Jones joining the team for the first time in the season after the bye week. After the bye, we were 2 – 4 and mostly in a state of shock and some of us had an inkling of what was coming. After the bye, the team got more healthy and started playing more poorly losing 3 of the next 5 games winning only against the Lions and Rams. The Seahawks were done for the year and continued to play worse until a loss at home to Tampa Bay giving the Bucs just their 2nd win of the season sealed the deal for most of us. We were going backwards. Ruskell resigned when told he would not be re-signed. The great debate started on what to do. Click Read More.

At first, the team tried to keep the team and coaching staff in place and announced a plan to hire a GM who join the current coaching staff and draft to bolster the weak parts of the current team. It seemed that Mora would get a second year to show significant improvement as unbelievable as that was to some. After preferred candidates for the GM search declined to interview, the Seahawks had to rethink their position. The Seahawks had done a thorough assessment of the just concluded season looking at players, coaching, schemes, and all aspects of the team. They concluded, as many at Seahawk Addicts had, that the the team got worse as the season wore on and that players, who were known to have played better, underperformed. They zeroed in on coaching, play calling, game planning, and preparedness among other things as needing improvement.

About that time, Paul Allen decided he’d seen enough. Showing that he truly wants to win a championship here in Seattle and that money really is no object, he spent $12 million to remove Mora after just one season and decided to wipe everything out between the water boy and Tod Leiweke. He decided he wanted someone who had their program in order, knew how to organize it and train the players, and could implement it successfully. He wanted someone to come in and take charge with a defined system that had been used successfully in the past. Pete Carroll had been wooed yearly from teams wanting him to coach in the NFL and previously, he had turned them all down. All of a sudden, he was available and his philosophies and ambition fit closely in principle with the qualities Leiweke was looking for. Both men have said the relationship they saw themselves having from the interviews that were conducted as well as the new front office organization suited Carroll with him having equal power with the GM and more over, having an active part in the GM hiring.

Maybe it was just fate but Pete Carroll became available for whatever reason at just the right time for Seattle to make their move. Some writers are speculating that he’s getting out of USC before the NCAA brings down the hammer for violations. Who cares? I’ve heard many comments directed at Ruskell’s squeaky clean requirement and how it was keeping the team from getting players it needs. I don’t see how hiring coaches is any different. Here’s everyone’s chance to practice what they preach and embrace a coach who may have had some problems in college and who is possibly bolting to our team to escape sanctions. Does that bother anyone if he can come in here and produce a winner?      

I said in a comment a few weeks ago after Ruskell had resigned that when Paul Allen identified the person he wanted, he would go after him vigorously and most likely prevail in hiring his man. He pursued Holmgren for a year before he finally got him signed, sealed, and delivered to Seattle. I think when Allen heard that Pete Carroll was available, he knew that was his man and the rest was history. This hiring really has similarities to 1999 when Holmgren came to Seattle. Carroll has the big name after accomplishing something extraordinary albeit in college. He’s a high profile hiring and appears to be as charismatic as Holmgren is with the press.

My first reaction was to think of Dennis Erickson and go “Oh no”! That seemed to be an initial reaction throughout the Seahawk nation. I saw fans already posting about Carroll last Friday, when it was announced he was the target the Seahawks had released Mora to pursue, that read like an anti-Ruskell post listing his deficiencies, mistakes, the lack of prior NFL success. Carroll hadn’t even signed yet and there were already fans getting on his case. That’s a tough crowd. After a week of listening to press conferences, reading about him in numerous publications, and listening to what others have said about him ranging from players who played for him in the NFL or college to other coaches and front office personnel he’s worked with. He’s had several interviews with some pretty interesting responses to questions. I’ve got to admit, I’m warming to Pete Carroll as head coach and King of the 53 man roster. It looks like most Addicts are too with mostly positive thoughts being reflected in comments in response to incoming news.

The things I like about Pete Carroll after the first week of hype.

Carroll’s hiring really reminds me of when Holmgren arrived in 1999 and I think there are some commonalities between the way the two coach. Like Holmgren, Carroll knows what he wants. He has confidence in his system and  philosophies and he knows what type of player he needs to make it work. He has already said that all the players have to drink the kool aid. He said point blank that a player would either buy into the program or he would find someone else who would. He said players would come and go but the more continuity they have the faster they would progress. He doesn’t come across as someone who would make changes unless they were warranted but also someone not afraid to make changes that are necessary. He said in interviews that he understood what it means to back in the NFL where the bottom line is to win. Another thing that reminds me of Holmgren is he insists that players and coaches do it his way because he’s confident his scheme works, he knows what it takes to make it work, and he can teach it to the team.

He enjoys what he’s doing and wants the players to like what they’re doing too. Even though the NFL is a business, he believes the players should enjoy playing the game and have fun. Although he’s been characterized as a players coach, he is serious about winning and doesn’t tolerate not working hard both at practice and in games. He insists on obedience. He’s been proven to be a good teacher and motivator and while players love playing for him, he’s all about discipline as he demands that players do it his way. Lofa said you didn’t want to get on the wrong side of Pete Carroll. He’s willing to go to the next guy who will do it his way without a qualm. While there is a question of his being able to lead professional players as opposed to college kids, players who have played for him all say there won’t be a problem there. Although on the outside, it appeared that at USC that he was an easy going players coach who had a close relationship with his players, those who played for him said everyone was scared to make a big mistake or break his rules. That’s another similarity to big Mike. Everyone was a bit scared of Holmgren and you didn’t cross him. Those who know him have no doubt he will have control of the team.

His former players both professional and college are giving him a big thumbs up. Lawyer Milloy, Lofa Tatupu, Lawrence Jackson, and Matt Hasselbeck (who didn’t play for him) were all interviewed. From Milloy who played for him in New England to the current USC alumni on the Seahawks and others in between, they gave him a big vote of confidence and none of them have any doubt that he will come in here and install a winning atmosphere. They don’t see him as another Erickson or Mora at all. He’s been running a pro style offense all his life from the pros to college and now back to the pros. They say he’s a very good communicator who will get his point across to the team regardless of whether they are 19 year old college players, 23 year old newly made millionaire rookies or 35 year old men about to retire. Warren Moon observed that all his players loved playing for him and further said he knows how to get the best out of his players. He endorsed the hiring as a good move. Carroll won on the road and his teams played especially well in big games always rising to the occasion.
He’s already hired successful NFL coaches like offensive line guru Alex Gibbs and young up and comers who many agree are ready to step up like Jeremy Bates as our new OC. Gibbs will also coach the tight ends. Former NFL star linebacker Ken Norton Jr. will coach the linebackers. His pedigree comes from producing many NFL quality linebackers over the last few years including Lofa Tatupu. Lofa was excited to be going back to working with Norton Jr. He’s retained Gus Bradley as DC of whom many Addicts thought did a decent job last season. Bradley has an endorsement from Monte Kiffin who taught Carroll defense. Presumably, Carroll will call the defensive plays.

It will be interesting to see what Gibbs makes of our offensive line and what he’ll do to fix it. Can he coach up some of our offensive linemen we’re all ready to toss in the scrap heap or will Carroll, Bates, and the new GM make the top priority in the draft to acquire the offensive linemen we all wanted before the makeover started? Will they try to repair our offensive line with lower draft choices and draft a skill player and a quarterback at the top of the draft. It will be interesting to see how they view our teams strengths and weaknesses from watching game film. Hasselbeck noted that it was probably good that we’re having a new set of eyes looking at the team and talent levels. A fresh appraisal by someone not closely affiliated with the team in recent years could be more objective and lead to better decisions made on player changes. Some of our favorites may be deemed to be not as good as we all thought and some of our backups may have talent that hasn’t been brought out or fit into the right scheme to take advantage of strengths and/or hide weaknesses.

It was noted that USC practices harder than anybody. Other institutes observing their practice routines went away saying they weren’t doing enough or putting enough effort into it. Carrol said one big advantage to the pros was they only had 4 hours a day to coach the players in college but in the pros they have 8 hours. He intends to practice hard like USC does. He has his whole routine down. He never said they were looking into something or exploring options like Mora often did nor did he ever indicate that he didn’t know exactly what they would be doing in any phase of his program. He said he knows exactly what he’s doing and the goal he’s working toward and he understands what has to happen to get there. Lofa said to expect long hard practices where they would be asked to be just as intense and put the same effort forth as they do on game day. For those who wanted discipline and max effort, I think you’ll be pleased this time around.

Seattle wanted a high profile figure to be the face of the Seahawks and one who would have the credentials to take control of this team and get their immediate attention. They were looking for someone to make a splash like Holmgren did back in 1999. I think they were very successful. Furthermore, I think Carrol will be credible to his players and ear their espect quickly. The coaching staff he is assembling appears to be top notch and NFL tested. They will have the most contact and hands on influence on the players. Carroll will run his defense with help from the DC. He said that he wanted to go out and get the other side of the ball (meaning offense) in good hands first and that’s why he hired Bates and Gibb right off the bat. He said he’s not worried about the defense. 

I like his passion and his assertion that he’s a different coach than he was ten years ago. He extrudes a confidence in his defensive scheme and his ability to break it down and teach it to the players. He knows what type of players it takes to run his defense and said it’s proven and refined. While running a pro style offense and defense, he dominated college football and set records which may never be equaled. I think there’s reason to be hopeful and excited. No one saw Pete Carroll coming as a possible hire and it’s taken a little time to get used to the notion. When you look at the confidence he has in his defense and the fact that he’s put the offense in the hands of one of the bright young up and coming coaches in the league as well as surrounding himself with NFL experienced coaches, this could be the coup of the year in terms of front office and coaching turnover. Pete Carroll certainly makes for a good face of the Seahawks. If Floyd Reese is hired as GM as it seems has a good chance of happening, the Seahawks will have completed their makeover by upgrading the front office and coaching as well as the future outlook for success of the team. That only leaves one area needing to be thoroughly analyzed, the players themselves.

Expect player turnover as Carroll searches for replacements for those who won’t buy in or don’t fit his plan. Pretty much what Holmgren did back in 1999 except I think Carroll won’t make as many changes. We could be in for another run like the Holmgren decade. I have to admit, given a choice between Ruskell and Mora and the new unnamed GM and Carroll, I’ll take the new GM sight unseen and Pete Carroll. I’ve even been reading comments from Addicts who proclaim they’d rather Carroll now than anyone including having Holmgren back. It might take awhile to get some of us Seahawk fans going but once we get rolling, better keep out of our way. Let the Pete Carroll era start. I’m jazzed!

Oh, by the way, he talks really fast too.