So someone named UltimateSeahawk included 17 Power in a recent poll for Top 5 independent Seahawks blogs. How my incoherent vomit wound up in the same company as Seahawks Draft Blog and Fieldgulls I don't know, but one thing caught my attention: amongst the guy's criteria is that good blogs should be neither overly optimistic or excessively negative. "I want something to look forward to," he wrote. "There is enough negativity directed towards the Seahawks in the national media. I don’t need that from a blog."
Between that and a recent poster at Seahawks.net (the source of much of my patronage) who said, "nobody both informs and depresses me about the Seahawk's current situation as well as Mr. Brandon Adams," I'm thinking it's high time for some positivity around here. What sports fan wants to wallow in pessimism all the time, however rational?
So, some good things about Pete Carroll. He's far from a sure thing in Seattle thus far, but it's not as if he's an unknown quantity or an abject failure yet either. There are things he's shown, encouraging things. Some of the credit here also belongs to GM John Schneider, but considering how prominent Pete is in the organization, you can't avoid crediting him as well.
1. He has the players' respect.
In the opinion of most, this is the most common failing of college coaches: they can't get the players behind them or their vision. In my opinion, Pete Carroll avoided this pitfall from the get-go. By all indications, he walked into the VMAC and got the Seahawks marching in lockstep very quickly, from the players to the ancillary staff. He's a good salesman, if nothing else.
Some of the flourishes (mottos with exclamation points, signs above the exits) seemed a little junior high, but the players' reaction had me convinced. They defended him vociferously, and not just to the reporters. You saw the product on the field. It's been night and day compared with the pitiful effort of the team that gave up on Jim Mora. Players fight to the whistle and to the end of the clock. I'm reminded of guys like Aaron Curry and Chris Clemons racking up big plays in the final two minutes, despite the team being three scores down against the Rams.
No doubt it helped having a standup QB like Matt Hasselbeck to push the program, as well as USC veterans like Mike Williams and Lofa Tatupu who were familiar with the principles. But whatever the reason, we've seen players speak out with confidence and with expectation about the team's future. You don't see that from players who don't believe in their coach.
2. He's a good recruiter.
One of the things that convinced me to tone down my early skepticism on Carroll was the coaching staff that he assembled. Jeremy Bates, an up-and-coming offensive mind; Jerry Gray, a respected DBs trainer; and most of all Alex Gibbs, the cranky O-line genius, whom it's hard to imagine coming out of semi-retirement for anyone but a serious head coach. QB coach Jedd Fisch and DL coach Dan Quinn turned out to be decent additions as well. And there's Tom Cable.
I know plenty of people are reserved towards new OC Darell Bevell (and DC Gus Bradley, but he's a holdover from the Mora regime), but the rest of these names speak to Carrol's reputation in the eyes of the league's coaching fraternity, or at least to Carroll's ability to sell a vision. What established failures did Mora managed to scrape up, Greg Knapp and Tim Lewis? Bahahaha.
Same goes for high-profile players that Carroll brought in. Regardless of their connections to the coaching staff, guys like Sidney Rice, Robert Gallery, and Zach Miller weren't necessarily shoo-ins to come anywhere. These guys know the Seahawks' record last year and know the circumstances of their somewhat-fabricated success. They know this team isn't a contender this year. Yet here they are. The cynical observer might point out here that deep pockets speak loudly, and that's true, but hey, shrewd use of money is part of being a good salesman. At least they have the room to shell out, thanks to the fact that...
3. He's financially prudent.
Tim Ruskell walked out of the VMAC and left behind a wagonload of neutron-star-heavy contracts that came nowhere close to matching players' production. Carroll and GM John Schneider promptly punctured this pulsating boil. Marcus Trufant, Sean Locklear, Aaron Curry, Julius Jones, Leroy Hill - the cuts were rampant and badly needed. They weren't reticent about it, either - Lofa Tatupu refused a pay cut and promptly got cut. (EDIT: Bad information. Tatupu requested a cut and received it. Completely different implications.)
Also getting resounding approval from me is their free agency behavior. Carroll and Schneider pursued a number of high-profile offensive free agents - amongst them Kevin Kolb, Brandon Marshall, and Vincent Jackson - yet showed restraint on all of them. They eventually found their hoped-for #1 WR guy in Sidney Rice, and some say they overpaid, but Rice is very young for a second-contract player. His current shoulder injury has nothing to do with the hip bugaboos that plagued him in Minnesota. It was a good pick, with more upside and less downside than the other courtships they could have overextended for. In this case, patience and financial restraint paid off.
4. He's able and willing to make business-oriented, emotionally tough decisions.
This is what everyone loves about the Patriots: their cold-business mindset and willingness to cut or trade players before their value expires. I personally wonder how effective this mindset would be if Tom Brady weren't around to make every decision look marvelous, but never mind. I'm glad Carroll has shown the ability to cut through the emotion of a decision and see the business side of things - and the future.
It goes beyond simply not chasing or showing favoritism to former USC players like Lendale White. Matt Hasselbeck and Lofa Tatupu were good examples. Both are approaching, or have already reached, the limit of their usefulness (on this team at least) and would have demanded big price tags. The cost-benefit ratio was too high, and despite the emotional knee-jerking the local media would start up, Carroll and Schneider did what was necessary. They built for the future instead of staying grounded in the past.
5. He wants to develop talent and adapt scheme
While everyone was focused on the whirlwind roster turnover that Carroll started in his first offseason, I was actually struck by Carroll's attempts to salvage Ruskell's team. He didn't just get rid of everyone. He couldn't have flushed the entire roster, of course, but that's beside the point. The offseason literature showed intense study and adaptation from Carroll's staff in an attempt to find places for guys like Red Bryant, Deon Butler, and Ben Obomanu. Replaceable veterans like Matt Hasselbeck, Chris Spencer, Lawyer Milloy, and Kelly Jennings were kept around to provide continuity and shelter their upcoming replacements from undue exposure as rookies.
Some of these seemed like obvious moves, sure. Hasselbeck was never going to be cut. But despite the surface chaos of it, there was a calculated and deliberate feel to these moves. It's paid off already in some instances, like the strong development of Kam Chancellor and the production of Bryant and Obomanu. It still might pay off with others. It's good to know that "Cut Forever" isn't too blind - or at least, wasn't last year.