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December 30, 2013 at 8:05 PM

Pete Carroll: “I think coming down to the last week of the season helped us”

Here’s a lot more of what Seattle coach Pete Carroll had to say to the media today:

(Opening…) “Well it’s good to be in playoff mode. Everybody in the program and around the program is real excited about the opportunity coming up and looking forward to it. We have a game that put us in this position. Guys have really responded beautifully to the challenge of getting that last football game. We played tremendous across the board, in the fashion that gave us this great situation to have an off week here leading into the playoffs. And, we’re going to do everything we can to maximize this week, rest-wise and then practice-wise; to keep our game in hand so that when it comes to know who we’re playing and we kick back into it next week, the following week, we’ll be ready to go. It hits us at a time when we’re pretty healthy, but we’ll still try to maximize in getting our legs back as much as possible and take advantage of what this bye is all about. We look forward to it and pretty excited. Good way to start the New Year.”

(On if the approach of going into games stays the same…) “Yeah that’s the whole idea; to get this point where we know what we’re doing and how we want to do it. So the language that we’ll use this week will not change at all and the perspective that we hold about what’s at stake and all that kind of stuff, we’re ready for all that. I thought even with all of the last few challenges that we needed to get to this point, our guys were ready to play and they were tuned in to it.I think coming down to the last week of the season helped us. It helped us and I think our players would tell you that they did come to understand a deeper sense of urgency that maybe they didn’t know existed and got us a great week of preparation. We played just about exactly the way we wanted to.”

(On how his approach of going into games has helped the team prepare for the playoffs…) “It has in that they know… I think they heard… Earl [Thomas] might have said it that this felt normal to him and that’s the whole idea. We want them to be comfortable with the expectations, comfortable with the challenges, comfortable with the language to deal with the situations that have come to the point where they can function really well, and understand what’s expected and that was the whole idea. So nothing has changed, nothing will change. This is the way you do it for us and I’m excited about that. We feel very confident that we know where we are and where we want to go at this point and how we’re going to go there.”

(On if there are any specific goals this week that he emphasizes to the players…) “Yeah this week is really important. Like I’ve said, there’s a lot of issues here to deal with. One is to get good rest and also to maintain our tempo of the style of play. So we’ll practice against one another, which we’ll have the practices of the year. The entire practice will be offense versus defense. So we’ll get great competitive moments and all of that and then when we get to the end of the week, when we figure out who we’re playing, we’ll take a look at all of the options as coaches. The players don’t need to do that. But, we’ll be looking ahead and it gives us an opportunity to adjust some things and fix some things and self-scout in great depth and all of that will come into play. That’s why we’ll wait a little bit later in the week to practice so we’re really well prepared to take advantage of the gathering of the information and all that.”

(On the key to the defenses’ success…) “Well I think the continuity of the players, for one, the guys that we added fit really well. I think John [Schneider] did a great job of picking guys for us that had the right make up, that they could bring something. Cliff [Avril] and Mike Bennett, Tony [McDaniel], those guys fit in really well. It helped us. OB [O’Brien] Schofield, those guys have all really contributed, they were very smooth in the transition. I think the continuity of the staff. Even though Danny [Dan Quinn] came in new for this season, he’d been with us before and really allowed us a chance to carryover from where we were and it was seamless in the transition. All of that and then just the maturity of the players. Earl [Thomas] is a better football player than he was a couple of years ago and Sherm [Richard Sherman] is a better player across the board. The guys that have been with us have improved steadily throughout and the fact that they know each other and know what they can count on is really crucial in adjusting, analyzing, diagnosing, all that stuff that they’re called on to do.”

(On the importance of continuity between players…) “Well I think it’s really important. Bill Walsh used to say that, ‘It takes five years before you can really bank on the experience of being together’ and he referred to that as ‘the reservoir of experiences that you have and that you can draw on’ so that when you’re faced with adjustments and adaptations, you’ve been through it before. So you can swiftly make the changes. So four years… we’re getting there and it hasn’t been everybody for four years, but there’s a nucleus of the guys that I think you’re referring to that have been with us and they know our language so well and they trust the background and history and so we can make sense of things very quickly and it just adds so you can for sure understand that the communication is so much clearer and it facilitates all of those things that you have to undertake to adjust and get better all of the time. So I think that’s what’s going on here. I think you’re seeing it.”

(On the importance of having players that were here when the Seahawks were in the rebuilding process to grow as the organization has grown…) “Yeah I think so. I think so. That they’ve grown through it and they appreciate it more so where we are than the guys that just showed up lately. But I think that’s pretty subtle in the fact. That seems like a long time ago.”

(On what’s he’s seen from the defense that’s allowed them to be successful…) “Fundamentals. The tackling, the fundamentals of the game, the pursuit, all of the things that make up the high level of play that you’ve seen, come from that and we really stressed it from somewhere… I don’t know might have been week eight or nine or something like that. I think maybe after the Tampa game. I don’t know what week that was, but that was probably the time where we made the turn; that we realized that we were going into the wrong direction. We were not playing really good, solid football fundamentally and that wasn’t scheme wise, although that was part of it. It was really running and hitting and tackling and leverage and pursuit and block protection and all of those things that are so necessary. To play on the ball and all of that stuff, we just continued to really focus on that; to try and be the best fundamental team in the league here come this time and we’re going to continue to do that. We’re going to try to win with fundamentals and see if that doesn’t show up here at the end.”

(On the key to taking away the big plays and keeping the ball away from the offense…) “I think through really clear understanding of the proportions of the emphasis, how much you can emphasize attacking the football and how much you need to emphasize the fundamentals and the decision making that goes into that. There’s nothing more in our program that’s more important than or emphasized more than the football and that’s why we say, ‘It’s all about the ball.’ That’s on every aspect of our ball. It’s the first thing that I say to these guys, it’s the last thing I say to them before they go out. It’s our number one emphasis. But they have to know how to and when to. So we constantly teaching and preaching what it takes and how you do it properly and I’ve always found that some guys have a better knack for it than others. Some players have an awareness that goes beyond just making the play and they make the play to get the ball to get it out so they can score and those guys are celebrating in our program so that bleeds into other guys that play and all that. So it’s just emphasis and focus, which comes from to commitment to it. That belief and all.”

(On any other injuries that occurred during the game…) “No.”

(On Richard Sherman, Brandon Mebane, Luke Willson, Jermaine Kearse injury status…) “All of those guys… we’ll see as we get back to work. Everybody should make it back. Luke [Willson] will be the one that’s in question. He’ll be the biggest question.”

(On the timeline of KJ Wright…) “It’s not designated specifically yet, but he feels great and I think the hope is that we will take a look at him next week and see where he is and from then, it’ll be day-to-day kind of a thing. That’s what we’ll hope it will be like and that’s really optimistic.”

(On Richard Sherman, Brandon Mebane, Jermaine Kearse making it back to practice this week…) “Yes.”

(On Percy Harvin’s injury status…) “Percy [Harvin] is going to practice with us when we get back and with the intention of playing in this next game and we’ll see what happens. That’s the intention and we’re going to see how it goes. He’s come to the point where we can go to that and we’ll keep our fingers crossed for him. He wants to contribute and be a part of this team and he’s going to do everything he can to do that. So we’ll see what happens.”

(On if Percy Harvin will come back this week…) “That’s when we come back. This week.”

(On what’s changed about Percy Harvin being healthy enough to play…) “He’s going to practice this week. That’s changed.”

(On if practice is starting this Thursday…) “Yeah Thursday.”

(On if Percy Harvin has been running on his own…) “He’s been rehabbing the whole time to get to this point. He ran real well today.”

(On the success of the running game…) “Yeah it was good. It was a good day of attacking the line of scrimmage. Marshawn [Lynch] ran really well in this game. Very tough and consistent, like we understand, but he fit in really well behind the line of scrimmage. Our guys came off the ball well and that was a good effort against a really good front and a tough group to run against. I really liked it. I thought there were some real good sequences in there where we were really going and running off the football like we like. It felt good, it looked good, and that’s why I feel like we’ve accomplished a lot in finishing the season the way we did in this game. The defense played terrific, the special teams were flying and we ran the ball.”

(On when Dan Quinn will be interviewed to be a head coach and why Dan Quinn would be a great head coach…) “I don’t know when that would take place, but if that’s going to happen, we would encourage that it happens this week. Dan [Quinn] is a terrific football coach, he’s got tremendous background in the game, he’s got great character about the game, he’s a great communicator, he’s tough, he knows what he wants. Look how well he transitioned to take this thing over so quickly and like I said, ‘Seamlessly.’ Getting along with people, working with people, and also managing the talent, all of that. He’s really well-equipped. So at this time of the year, this stuff happens. It’s a very difficult time for coaches, but it also creates opportunities for guys and the fact that teams want to come talk to Dan [Quinn] or any of our coaches, it’s a credit to our program. How it works out and all that, we have no idea and all that. But, we’ll do this with all of the care of what’s going on here. This is first and foremost and all of our guys understand, but also I’ll help our guys any way that I can to fulfill the dreams that they have for themselves and proudly go about that. So we’ll deal with this normally also.”

(On if it’s part of his job to teach the assistant coaches in being a head coach…) “Well it’s pretty fundamental to me that I’m trying to help everybody be the best that they can be. So that goes for the coaches as well. So if I can do that and that’s helping people get to where they want to go, where they dream to be, that’s all a part of it. So it’s not a section different than anything else, it’s just kind of the same thing running throughout. I think I recognized it early, when I was in the league and when I first found out that you could be restricted. It happened to me when I was at Minnesota way back when. So I understood what that meant and I didn’t believe in restricting people from what they were capable of and the opportunities that they would have. So that’s all. I’m not trying to kick anybody out of here, I just want to give them a chance to be the best that they can be and I also know that that word is out. So if somebody wants to get someplace, we’ll help them in every way that we can and we’ll make this an attractive place for the next person to come. I’ve always known that if you do well, guys are going to move and that’s part of it. That has nothing to say about Dan’s [Quinn] situation, everyone is unique and all. But, I couldn’t be more fired up for his opportunity when we’re done playing.”

(On what it would be like if Percy Harvin is healthy to play…) “Yeah it would be a great thing for him, first off. This guy is a true competitor and he would do anything to play and he’s been fighting for some time now, month and months to try and position himself so that he could get back here and to his credit, he has not given up on it and he’s at a place where he has a chance. So we’ll see what happens. That’s kind of it. If he can help his team, then that’s great and we’ve never ever said that this changes anything for us. He’s one of the terrific, young players on the team and we’re hoping that he can do his part and fit in and we change anything to do that. But it’ll be great for him. We’ll benefit from it too if it works out, we’ll find out. So we’ll see what happens.”

(On if it is a matter of Percy Harvin figuring out how to deal with the soreness…) “It’s way more complicated than just that. He had major surgery in his hip. There are a lot of people who walk around from years getting back from that and he’s trying to do it in months. He’s not just trying to get back to being a normal human being walking down the street. He goes a millions miles an hour and throws his body everywhere, and he has to be perfectly fit to do that. He’s learned as he’s gone along to try and figure this thing out and it’s taken us some time because it’s a very delicate situation. I couldn’t be more pleased with how he’s gone about it to try and figure it out to work his way through it and deal with the setbacks and all of that. It’ll be a story to you guys, but we might as well get it out this week, he’s going to try and get back and we’ll find out what happens. Right now I didn’t even mention day to day, week to week, he’s going to practice on Thursday and we’ll see what happens from there.”

(On if he’s worried with trying to work Percy Harvin back in after not practicing for a while…) “No we’re not worried about that at all. I think we’ll do that really well. We’re not going to overweigh what this means. We’re just trying to bring one of our guys back on the roster and see what happens. He knows what we’re doing, he knows our system, he understands what’s going on, it’s not the question of that, but there is still a lot to be said for not practicing all of that time. We’ll take all of that into account and see what happens.”

(On if there’s anything beyond his injury that is slowing down his return process…) “No. He’s a young man that has a bright long future and we want to make sure to take care of him is all. That has nothing to do with contract really.”

(On if he made a decision during the season to wait until playoffs to play Percy Harvin or did this just happen to be the timing of it…) “No we never said that. There was a time where I thought that maybe he wouldn’t have a chance to take the turn that he needed within the last month or so because we knew it was getting down. He needs a couple of weeks, and now we have a couple of weeks so we’ll see what happens. There is no game plan here; there is nothing behind this at all. We just have a young guy trying to get back on the team and seeing if he could help his team win, and we’ll see if it happens. There is no strategy to this or anything like that. We’re just pulling for him and if he can contribute that’ll be great. When he jumped out against Minnesota it looked like he could do something when he gets out there. It might be pretty exciting if he does make it back.”

(On self-scouting themselves with the playoff bye…) “It’s one of the things. Like I said there are a lot of things that we’ll take into account here. That’s important, we have been doing that ongoing throughout the season. We’re always doing that, but when you have a little bit of time to set back you do get a new prospective and so we’ll try to find the new perspective that gives us the insight and that will help us. There’s a lot going on, this is a really, really fun time. I mean this is as fun as it can get. Here we are going into the playoff season and we get a chance to get as right as you can get, and we want to manage this beautifully and do a great job of all of that. We’re going to have fun with this too and enjoy the heck out of it. These guys will practice so fast and look so good on this week when we come back, and like I said it’ll be the best practices that we’ve had all year. They’ll look great and so that’s kind of how we want to head into that final week there.”

(On what Earl Thomas does that made players vote for him to win the Steve Largent award…) “Absolutely persistence. If you can say persistence and constant in the same breathe that’s Earl. He has never backed off of bringing it. With studying, working, working out, mentality, the way he communicates, and we knew this about him coming out of Texas. Their coaches and the people at Texas talked about him as just a total team starter. He’d start the practice, he’d rev it all up and he was a guy that always brought that energy. He is that and he’s been so consistently impressive that I think our guys said hey ‘shoot yeah’. They couldn’t help but recognize him. I think also he’s been here long enough that there are young guys that are following him. There are young guys that are really trying to emulate the way he goes about it. I think Byron Maxwell is a really good example of that. His habits, his mentality, his focus, and the way he communicates about the game and all of that. All of that is just so obvious about the guy that I think they recognize that he’s that unique.”

(On if Percy Harvin being in the lineup opens things up for the offense and if he was able to see that…) “We didn’t see that somebody else said that. We saw glimpses, and I watched the film, we played against him, and I watched him in high school. He has been a great player forever. It’s a big issue for you guys, you’ve been waiting all year to talk about it, well here you go. We’re going to take this very smoothly, and it’ll be wrong to change things because of one individual player at this time, we’re not doing that, we wouldn’t do that. We’re just going to add him in and see where he fits in, but when you put the ball in his hands, things are going to happen now. He’s one for one on the kickoff returns as a Seahawk. He looked pretty good, he went about 50 yards in a heartbeat. If he gets a chance to play, and he can get through it and show that he’s ready and all that then he may do something in the next game, he just may do something.”

(On if he’s recognized opposing defenses keeping Russell Wilson in the pocket more…) “I think that people are trying to take away the running game from the quarterback, yeah I think that. Russell doesn’t scramble to run, he scrambles to find receivers, and he does a great job of that. He had a fantastic game outside of the pocket this week. But the other element of it as well is him running the ball off of the read stuff, and they’re paying attention to it which is good”

(On if there was a plan to play Percy Harvin in the playoffs…) “No. I said there were no strategies, no behind the scenes. This is the end of the opportunity right now. We took it as far as we could, waited as long as we could, demonstrated as much patience as you could, and he did the same as he was trying to get ready and we’ll see what that means.”

(On Darrell Bevell and Dan Quinn getting interest from teams for head coaching jobs…) “Bevell was involved last year with an opportunity or two and rightly so. He’s a tremendous football coach; he’s a great play caller, designer of the offense and all of that. He’s got it nailed. One guy is a defensive guy, one guy is an offensive guy, it just depends on what you’re looking for, but both of these guys are fantastic football coaches and they’ve been highly successful, and they’re leading really good units, and they can make all of the decisions and the choices and all of the stuff that you have to make. Neither one of them have been head coaches before and there is still a curve there for them, but they’re as qualified as anybody could possibly be. I’m particular fond of these guys because they’ve been through our program and I know what they know. They’ll bring great order and structure to the next place they go.”

(On what he saw in the run game against the Rams…) “Yeah I thought we ran off the ball really well. I thought against a really stout group and that means that the offensive guys were really moving in all of the zone stuff and they did a really good job of getting going. We could be better, but it was consistent and we were targeting really well, we didn’t miss a lot of blocks, we didn’t get fooled by any schemes and stuff like that. The stunts we handled well and it took all of that just to get what we got done because they’re good. This last month has really been a great challenge for us and it should position us to be well prepared for whatever is coming from many of the defenses we’ll face.”

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