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January 27, 2014 at 3:19 PM

Pete Carroll: “Everything was really cool, so we’re off to a good start”

Here’s the official transcript of what Seattle coach Pete Carroll had to say to the media today:

On today’s practice: “We’re going to work at the Giants’ facility. It seems to be a great place for us. We can fit right in. We did not go outside today. We had a great workout today. It was a bonus Monday for us – a little more than you normally get during a normal week’s practice so the guys really took to it. We had a great tempo and enthusiasm and everything was really cool, so we’re off to a good start.”

On being used to games in inclement weather: “It does help. It helps for the guys who have been through it. We play in an area that has somewhat inclement weather occasionally and so it’s not something that we’re bothered by. The normal issues arise – the ball being harder to handle and the wind blowing and things like that do change the factors somewhat – but for us it’s no big deal.”

On seeing a difference in Jermaine Kearse after his Lasik surgery: “I don’t know for a fact that it changed things but it sure seems like it did. He has great athleticism, great hand eye coordination, but he has been over the top since he came back from that. So subjectively I would say that it had an impact, but he was good anyway. He has been extraordinary for us in so many ways but it seems like it gave him confidence. I don’t know what the difference was but he’s better because of it.”

On what Bud Grant taught him: “Bud is an amazing man. His confidence that he exudes going with what he believes in his gut was extraordinary to me to see the calm and the commitment that he had to do what he felt was right in his mind. He didn’t care what anybody else thought and he was really clear about how he expressed that. I thought it was empowering to know that when you get to a certain part in your life and in your coaching career you can have a really strong, solid opinion whether everybody agrees with it or not or if they like your choices. What’s right is what you know is right at the time. He talked that way and he taught me that. He lived that way. That was really what I came out of there with: a greater sense of confidence that I could get this done in time if I could get to what was really important to me. He was marvelous at all that stuff.”

On what Russell Wilson’s success has done for shorter quarterbacks in college and the NFL: “I think without question that Russell has at least turned some heads. For the other guys and all the guys who have played before him who didn’t quite get the chance for that same kind of stigma, he has opened up the door. It’s exciting to see that that’s happened because there are a lot of marvelous athletes, and we’re seeing it right now. Johnny (Manziel) is an incredible athlete that might not have been considered as highly before Russell had all this success. It’s kind of silly that it had to happen this way because the right thing is to get the best players out there to play and whatever the results show, that basis is the basis for your opinions of guys. Unfortunately that hasn’t happened, but I’m really grateful that we’ve figured that out with Russell. He just kept being Russell and he showed us what he was all about. So I think it has had an impact.”

On Carl Smith evolving as a quarterbacks coach: “His name is Tater to us. If you look back and follow the years that he’s coached quarterbacks, you can find that in almost every one of those guys that he’s coached over the years, the statistical best year they’ve ever had. I go back to when he coached Drew Bledsoe in our years in New England. Drew had the best statistical year to that point. He has the really magnificent gift of being able to find the strengths in people and amplifying them and bringing them to the front and he’s done that. As uniquely different as Russell is than the other quarterbacks he’s coached, he’s found the way to make sense to Russell to amplify what he brings and accent his effectiveness. We’ve been together in and out for years and I’ve had tremendous respect for his work forever and this is just another illustration of the way he gets it done and the results.”

On whether he had doubts about his ability to go back to the NFL from college coaching: “That’s a good question for me but it’s a long answer. The best I can do in short form is to say that I was raised as a real traditional coach with the people I was around and the ones that influenced me so much all the way back to my high school days and Pop Warner days. I had great guys that I was involved with but I found that over the time I saw things a little differently than other guys and it was pointed out to me that I was off-track by some of my older, traditional guys, which was great. I went with it and didn’t think I had the answers at the time so I just followed along. But through the years the biggest change really did happen after I was fired at New England. That was really the biggest opportunity shift, because it was really the first time I had some time. I was semi-retired for 10 months or whatever it is and I had a chance to sit back and I had to kick into a real competitive mode because the job market was going to come up again as I sat out for one season. In that time I think that the competitiveness really elevated in me that I needed to get right. I needed to do everything I could to get as prepared as possible. The first thing that came up was the college coaching season and as that came along, I had schools that I called and they didn’t want to have anything to do with me. I didn’t get calls back, but USC finally did and it gave me an opportunity through that transition to go ahead and bring out the philosophy and approach and the language and the whole outlook that had just come through the years of experience but I had a chance to collect it. Really, I haven’t been the same since. It was a great change. And it was really about getting close to what was really important to me and hoping to get an opportunity that I could express that. I thought I was ready going into New England and I would have liked to have seen what would have happened at that time but going back to San Francisco for two years to work under (former Head Coach) George Seifert and with Bill Walsh who was back on as a consultant really was an opportunity to really regenerate and all that. So for whatever reason it really happened at USC and there was a time there when I knew right after the New England job that it was going to be difficult to get back into the league. I had a couple coordinator opportunities and I didn’t want to do that at the time. I wanted to stay with what I had started, so the college route seemed like the right one. So to finish this long answer, I thought I would never leave USC. It was a perfect situation and I loved it. Everything was formatted so that I could really do things the way I wanted to do them and I had tremendous freedom and support, but I always knew that the NFL was the most competitive level that you could get involved with in the world of football. I always had that in the back of my mind that I wanted to see what would happen, particularly after the years at USC as we had success. I wanted to see what would happen if we translated this to the NFL and see what the result was. And simply again, the way we treated people at USC and the way we went about the expectations for the individuals as they fit into the team was something that I really wanted to carry into the NFL and see what would happen and we’ve been rewarded well in the four years that we’ve been in Seattle. I’m really thankful for that.”

On whether Michael Robinson’s season was more emotional because of the time he spent away:“Mike is a very emotional player and gives everything he’s got, so this instance in particular, when Mike was really sick at the start of the year and was unable to perform, he lost his opportunity. Probably there were moments when Michael thought he might not ever get another chance. So when we did come back to him and we were able to get it together and all, it was very meaningful for Michael. He is a big factor on our team because we don’t have that many older guys and he really stands for the old guard. He’s been a big factor on special teams as well. You can see the emotion come out of Michael. He’s the guy that never thought, ‘maybe I’ll never get this chance again.’ Then he comes back to play and he gets to play in the Super Bowl. I totally get it and respect it.”

On Macklemore’s success at the Grammys: “That was amazing. I think I fell asleep at about four Grammys. It was a really cool thing for our area. A guy growing up in Seattle. He had an extraordinary following locally that nobody knew about and didn’t really understand why at the time. The story has been told that we found him on the first night of his Heist tour at our stadium and had no idea what was going to happen. The place was just going crazy because the fans knew him already, and then he kicks off this tour and is arguably the best performer in the world this past year. It was really fun for us. Knowing that he loves sports and he loves Seattle and he’s so connected to the 12th man and all that, it’s been a blast. He’s been a big factor. Every time we score a touchdown we play his music. It’s a big deal to us.”

On reports that other teams wanted to draft Russell Wilson and what it was like at the time in the Seahawks draft room:“It’s real common for people to say, ‘Hey we loved that guy, too’ and we got phone calls right after that sitting in the draft room from people saying, ‘Oh we were going to take him with the next pick.’ Who knows? I remember all of that, everything that happened in that exchange. Really, (GM) John Schneider led the charge in this thing. John had it pegged perfectly. He’d been particularly sweating it out in the second round because he wasn’t sure he was right of course but he had it nailed. So when we went through the second round and didn’t take him, we had that thought. We passed on the next chance and it was really exciting for us because we knew we were going to do something that was going to surprise some people out there. We knew we had the chance to get a guy that we were totally in love with, that might be the difference maker. We knew there was going to be a storm out there. But really, I just kept pumping up John that he was right saying, ‘Let’s go with it. We’re doing it.’ He knew he was but he needed some support too because there was a lot of that conversation in the room. Not everybody knew. Not everybody realized what an extraordinary player he would be. John did. So right up to the moment that we took him there was tremendous tension and excitement and all of that. And then when Russell tells the story that we picked his name out of the hat, I mean come on, of course we had to take him. It was very exciting moments for us – ones that we’ll always remember.”

On halftime adjustments that clicked over the course of the season: “I would tell you in general for the most part those adjustments that have happened at halftime, I feel kind of accustomed to that happening. I can fill them into a heap. For the most part what happens is you declare what it was in your game plan that would be effective that you thought you be effective, and you get back to it. It’s not so much the changes that you make but most of the time it’s revisiting the ideas that we had that we weren’t able to expose in the first half and then we draw those out with a commitment to the plan. So the commitment is what got us back on track more than it was changing something to fit the needs of the game. That’s happened so many times to me that it’s the first place I go to fix whatever didn’t go quite right in the first half.”

On Percy Harvin’s status: “Yeah, we’re in a phase of Super Bowl right now, for those guys who know what I’m talking about. He’s in. He had another great day today and a great week last week. He’s part of the game plan.”

On Julius Thomas being similar to other tight ends the Seahawks have seen: “He’s very, very similar in that he’s a player that they realize he has wide receiver talents and they move him in and out in the slot and will play him as an outside receiver as well. They run all of the routes the receivers run with him so their confidence in him tells us what kind of player we’re dealing with. Very similar to Jimmy Graham and all of the guys we’ve played all year long. We have the same issues and problems that we’ve had during the season.”

On Michael Bennett being back for the second time: “I missed the first time around with Michael, but Dan Quinn was around, our coordinator, and that helped us get Michael to us. He’d had a pretty good relationship with Mike but it just didn’t work out the first time around. Michael’s been an exceptional player. He’s had a great season for us. My only regret is that we didn’t use him enough early. He has tremendous versatility, plays inside and outside. He’s got a great motor and great savvy about him. He doesn’t do everything in an orthodox manner but he’s very oriented. He has a great feel for the game and makes great decisions in the game so we give him a bit of latitude in that regard so he can make the plays he’s capable of making.”

On affecting Peyton Manning: “We would love to affect him. He’s extremely effective in the pocket. He has great pocket sense in how to slide, arguably the best ever, so that is the challenge, but their efficiency and the precision in which he gets the ball out is what makes him so difficult to sack. It’s not the protection – it’s obviously great – but he amplifies that because he just knows how to do it and when to do it and gets rid of the football and will not get hit, but we still have to work to affect him. That’s going to call for everything we can think of – every style of pressure, every rush that we can manage, the coverage change-ups, the disguises, the looks – all of that to try to keep him from being so efficient that he pretty much has been able to have a free hand at all season long. That’s why the numbers are what they are so there’s no easy answer. I wouldn’t tell you anyway, but it really is a great challenge for us and our players.”

On whether or not he recruited Derrick Coleman at USC: “Yes, as a matter of fact I did. I saw him at school way back when. It was Troy High School. It didn’t work out. We wanted him to play fullback and he didn’t want to play fullback at the time so he’s playing fullback for us now. He’s done a fantastic job. He’s been an all-around football player. He’s been an excellent special teams player. He’s done everything we’ve asked of him at fullback as a runner and a catcher. We put him in the game with no hesitation at any time and the fact that he’s been a core special teams guy – and not just that but that he’s done so well at it – he’s been a great accent to our football team.”

On his personnel philosophy of being unafraid and aggressive: “It comes from not having anybody over me to tell you the truth. John (Schneider) and I have joined together aggressively to compete at every single turn, at every opportunity whatever it may be, to see if there’s something in there for us. He’s done a great job of having the competitive will to keep pushing and fighting and clawing and scratching to have the opportunity that has sent us down the road early on with the hundreds of guys that came through the program. It sent us on the road to stay after Marshawn Lynch for months to get him to come to our club. The deal that he got done with Percy (Harvin) and everything that fell in between that really was an attitude of competing and going for it. Because John and I just have to look at each other to make these choices, it’s pretty easy for us. We really don’t care about what other people think and we’re not going to be driven by what the status quo may think and we’ve really trusted our gut on decisions, much like what I was just talking about on the direction I got a long time ago from Coach (Bud) Grant to do what you feel is right. With that, we’ve done a lot of questionable moves that people want to know about. We’ve done with great commitment and we’ve been very connective and supportive of one another in our thoughts to be that way. It has helped us accelerate the process. Probably for the most part we’ve found guys that we could elevate their factor on our football team because of that thinking as well. John has done a great job of managing all the way throughout.”

On what he’s done in his four years of drafts with Seattle and whether coming from college helps: “The time I had was nine years at SC to be in charge of personnel as well as coaching and everything else really helped me tremendously in our philosophical approach, in our commitment to young players. When you’re a coach, you don’t like playing the young guys. When you’re the GM you want to see all the young guys. When you’re a GM and a coach – in essence what you are in college – I made the choice to go with young guys. We developed a whole approach about that and a philosophy about how that worked out for us and it paid off in a tremendous way. When John first heard me talking about what I think is important he was floored because he never had that same openness that a GM would have about finding which guys can help you be successful immediately and that’s really guided a great deal of our decision making. For the most part the personnel guys will think that way but the coaches don’t coincide because they feel like when you play the young guys you’re going to lose. As a matter of fact Bud Grant used to say that for every rookie you start you’re going to lose a game. Bud and I didn’t agree on everything. So that’s the background of all of that and I think that the rest of it, that’s where it’s coming from. College did help and it helped in a lot of different ways than you would think. For the first few years it was very helpful because we recruited a bunch of these kids, but from then on it was John (Schneider) and I putting together and melding a whole new approach to it and with a lot of confidence. The reinforcement and the confidence we put in one another allows us to make the choices that we do. We’ve had a tremendous run in the lower rounds. In these past few years, John has done a tremendous job of getting guys in the fifth round. There’s a whole list of them, guys in the fourth round and sixth round that are starting for us, have contributed in a big way, and have allowed us to recreate our football team in a short time.”

On making sure players peak on Sunday for the game: “For this game I was really clear that we installed the game plan last week, which was great for today. We went out today and brought it right back up and guys knew what was going on so we’ll get the whole week to repeat it again. That’s the San Francisco style. That’s the Walsh deal from way back when. I’ve used it in all the bowl games ever since. We’ll cut down a little bit this week just to stay fresh and be really on it, but really all the learning is done before we ever got here and now we’ll just continue to polish it up a little bit.”

On his ‘every game is the championship game’ philosophy: “First of all, I don’t feel it’s radical or I wouldn’t do it. But it is a human nature thing. If you ask guys to get up every once in a while or if you ask them to get up for the reasons that this is a great matchup or this is a rival, what do you do the week that it isn’t? Do you expect them to perform at a lower level? So we expect our guys to perform at their highest level to get their maximum, total input every single time that we play a game. It doesn’t matter whether it’s in preseason or the regular season or it’s in the championship run now. That’s a mindset and that’s a standard of operation that we hold that I can never back off now. Are there plays during the game where he doesn’t have to go as hard as the others? I don’t believe in that. We’re going to go as hard as we can, as fast as we can, until that play is over and then we’re going to do it all over again. That consistency of that expectation and that standard is what makes our team what we are. Whether it’s radical or different or whatever, it’s the only way I can think. You’re either competing for it or you’re not. You’re either going for it or you’re not. So we don’t ever allow our guys the thought that it’s okay to let up now, at any time in anything we’re doing, forever.”

On looking back at their preseason game versus Denver: “We prepare like our time allows us to prepare in the preseason, which is very minimal. As far as the opponent is concerned, we prepare really hard for us to perform on game days. We are practicing games and getting ready for games in preseason and that’s why winning all of our preseason games is important to us. In this case there was a new team for us to see and we were excited to see Peyton (Manning) and all that and what that was going to be in preseason. I was interested to see what they were going to do. So we had a good matchup. We had a game that both teams played pretty hard throughout. As we prepare for it now, we did look back to the preseason of course. We want to see the matchups. More importantly than anything is to see our guys against their guys. It’s not so much scheme because so much changes in 20 games but it’s more about our guys versus their guys and what that looks like so we can gauge what to expect. So that’s basically what happens and then there’s so much information that that kind of pales after a while.”

On whether or not experience is overrated: “No, I don’t see it as experience being overrated. I see it as coaches not trusting the guys. There’s a big difference there. But they would trust him because they don’t have the experience, I guess. If you asked young players to do everything that a position could call for, they’re going to fail. They’re not going to be able to get it done. If you ask young players to do what they’re well-equipped to do and if you can confine that with an approach and a philosophy, you can see them be successful because they’re good at the thing you’re asking them to do. And as you do that you build on that and you increasingly expand their role. If you commit to that thought and you get to midseason, you have a regular player. By the time you get to the finish of your season you have a starter potentially or at least a guy that can jump in with confidence that you can count on, and you know what you’ve got. The time that you play those young guys and give them an opportunity to grow and to fit in, the other guys aren’t playing as much, so by the end of the year you have a stronger, healthier, more equipped, deeper team, I think.”

On exploring marijuana’s medicinal value in the NFL: “First off, I can’t speak for anybody else in that regard. We have to continue to explore and compete to find ways that are going to make our game a better game and take care of our players in the best way possible. The fact that it’s in the world of medicine is obviously something the Commissioner realizes and him making the expression that we need to follow the information and the research absolutely I’m in support of. Regardless of what other stigmas may be involved, I think we have to do this because the world of medicine is trying to do the exact same thing and figure it out and they’re coming to some conclusions. I can only speak for our coaches and we haven’t debated the thought yet.”

On having the game in the New York-New Jersey area: “I think this is an exceptional place for an event like this. Forget what the weather factor is in this thing. Any time you do an event of this magnitude in the New York-New Jersey area, you’re going to get a great performance by the people and by the spirit of the area and the history and the background of New York’s teams and just the fans that have come from here for generations. We don’t care about the weather so it might not be as comfortable for people to sit in the stands for this game, but of course the New York area deserves to have a game of this magnitude.”

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