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February 21, 2014 at 10:52 AM

Pete Carroll: “It’s been really fun”

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was among those meeting the media at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis this morning. Here’s what he had to say during his formal, group interview as he talked about what life has been like since the Super Bowl, his defensive philosophy, some Seahawk personnel matters, and more:

Has your life been different since winning the Super Bowl? “Been a little different, yeah. It’s really been fun. Tremendous energy about the ball game. It continues everywhere we go. Everybody we run into wants to talk about it. The ones that come up are pumped up about the game and what happened.”

 What have you learned about quarterbacks and size since getting Russell Wilson? “Size doesn’t matter. We’ve learned that Russell’s a great football player and a great competitor and it just doesn’t matter what package he comes in. It’s not because he’s 5-11 ½ that he’s a great football player. He’s a great football player. It’s interesting now. Here we are in another draft with some notable players that are likewise. I think it was Johnny that said Russell had opened the door for him and guys like him. That’s true. Prior to the last couple years the general thinking was that a guy of Russell’s stature couldn’t play, which obviously is wrong. It’s just wrong. Anybody who said that is wrong. But not everybody who is 5-11 ½ can play quarterback. You’ve got to be a great football player. All the elements that make up Russell make him very, very unique regardless of how tall he is.”

On if there are more running, athletic QBs now: “College football has really generated a style of play that has allowed us to see quarterbacks as athletes away from the pocket. A great deal of their work has to be done in the pocket. That’s where we’re counting on them to play the game. But then when the athletes get out and move. There’s nothing more difficult for a defensive coach to deal with. That element of the scrambling quarterback that can create after the regular play starts and begins again. That’s the factor that is most difficult because it’s the most unpredictable. We’re seeing more and more of it. However we’ve also seen that you can’t last in this league running the football as a quarterback. You just can’t do it. The guys are just too physical and the pounding is too great. There’s a certain style about the mobile guys. You don’t have to be runners to be effective.”

On the challenges of trying to repeat: “I don’t think it’s any different than winning a national championship and trying to win it again and having another great season one year after the next. There’s a whole mentality that goes into how you get there that once you get there you continue. It’s not a brand new experience. IT doesn’t have to be. But it does take great discipline and it does take the proper work ethic and mentality so that you can stay in connection with that which got you there. You have to know how you got there so that you can repeat it and retool. That’s the challenge. Then you have to see the signs that are demonstrated by the players and coaches and the people that support you that takes you away from what it takes. That’s a whole science. I’m really excited about going through it. I loved that challenge in college, and I don’t see it any different. It’s very much the same. There’s a matter and way and language to it that we understand that we’re going to hopefully stick to it. We’re a million miles from getting back into that but it’s underway. It’s been underway for years in our program. It’s formatted to continue.”

On wanting QBs to throw at the Combine: “Here’s a little different. It’s a little more random. They don’t have control of the route running and the depths and things and guys are trying to do the best they can at receiver. It does call for a guy to demonstrate flexibility and an ability to adapt. IT’s a little bit different. It’s just combine workouts; it’s not football. And controlled workouts are not football. That’s just what it is. It’s part of the process and our guys learn how to evaluate those in conjunction with the season’s work and the body of work the guys has shown.”

On desiring size at the receiver spot: “Just look back at the history. There are great football players that are 5-8 playing out there and guys that are 6-3 playing out there. There are a lot fewer of the tall guys because it’s really hard to be tall and fast. It all goes back to the makeup of the player. I’m watching Sammie Watkins take the stage as he gets measured today and I think he was 6-1 and 211 pounds. OK, what separates that guy? What makes him such a great football player? It’s all the other elements. It’s not his height, weight, speed. IT’s all the other stuff that’s been part of his makeup, his gifts. And then also the experiences he’s had, the coaching he’s had, the opportunity to play with great players and a great quarterback going through college. It’s all of those things that make guys what they are. To think that there’s only certain packages and there are only certain standards, you’re going to make mistakes that way. You have to take everyone of these guys as individuals and figure them out and see what they have and make an assessment of that.”

On the progress of Christine Michael: “He’s really talented and a really exciting guy in our program. Probably has the most breakout potential of anybody because we haven’t seen much of him yet. We’ve seen him, we know that he can do really special stuff. He played in a very competitive position. It was hard to get in there with Marshawn (Lynch) and Robert Turbin. But he’ll give those guys a real run when we come back to work. He’ll grow a lot from year one to year two. We all know in our program that he’s going to be very explosive and a really exciting guy. He showed that in his chances that he got.”

On the season of cornerback Byron Maxwell: “That’s a great story because Byron came in here as a lower round pick. A really competitive, tough kid. Showed his mettle in special teams. He was a great gunner on special teams and that tells you something about a player. He really jumped out at us. He just dove into the technique and the style of play. All of the sudden it just started to emerge that he showed great consistency. He had a great camp. Nobody knew it because he was playing behind Brandon Browner but he was having a great camp and a great start to the season. There’s no reason he wasn’t playing as well as the starters. He was just behind Brandon at the time. For us to see that emergence was enormous for our football season. When Byron had his chance, other people think Oh boy they’re going to their second-team guy, I was really excited because I had see nwhat he’d done to get there and hoping he would handle it well. Boy, he handled it beautifully. What’s really exciting about it is he’s a product of our club because he followed Earl Thomas’ makeup and Earl Thomas’ approach to the game and he learned from Earl. He’ll openly tell you trying to figure out, Why was Earl so intense and why was Earl so competitive and why was Earl so consistently on it day after day after day? That’s what made Byron secure the spot when he had the opportunity presented to him.”

On his time with Earle Bruce and Ohio State: “We had a great season. We had come in right after Woody had duked the guy out in the Peach Bowl. It’s funny how your opportunities come along.”

On trying to keeping Zach Miller and Sidney Rice around: “We hope to. Our whole thing is we’d like to keep this team together as best as we can. There are very difficult decisions every year you face in the league with contracts and money and cap and all that. Every season is like that. That brings about very challenging decisions for us because we love our team. We love our guys. There’s numbers of issues we have to deal with. We’ll deal with them as well as we can. But those guys have played great football for us.”

On if there is a Seattle defensive blueprint for success: “That’s a long answer and I’m kind of good at long answers, but I’m not going to do one right here. It really starts with an overall philosophy of how the game works, which is eliminating big plays and playing great up front. That’s kind of the basics of it. And you have to build from that, start somewhere. So philosophically we have a really sound mentality and we build from that. We have been doing it for years — this is not just a one year, two-year deal. And that guides the standards that we set so we are so good up top. If you look at our defense and how well we play down the middle with Earl (Thomas) back there, and for years it’s been that way. That’s one of the building blocks that you are really good up top and you don’t let people score fast, and then also scoring fast with the running game is really unimportant, and then as you move to the front we want to be more and more aggressive, always with speed. And so that is kind of the general way of saying it. But if you don’t have a really clear vision of what you are creating then one year it is going to be this and one year it is going to be that. And I think we have a very solid mentality for what we are trying to make with our defensive team.’’

On if the Super Bowl was the ultimate culmination of that philosophy: “The Super Bowl was one of the ultimate challenges  because of the greatness of the quarterback and their style and their productivity. We’ve never seen an offense be more productive than that. So that was a great challenge that culminated the season with a terrific bunch of guys playing defense and really good coaching by (defensive coordinator) Danny Quinn and those guys, they did a great job. And so what was most exciting about that was to take on that challenge and do it exactly the way we wanted to play. We didn’t change anything. The things that are guys are really good at we stayed with it in the hopes that in the ultimate challenge that would give us the best opportunity to perform well, and it worked out quite well for us.’’

On how the NFC West has improved since his first season with the Seahawks in 2010: “It has been a remarkable change from when people didn’t even want to admit we were in the playoffs way back then. Matter of fact, I was just talking to coach Harbaugh about that, we have watched this thing happen pretty quickly and it’s pretty impressive. There is no question about it, this is a very difficult division. We know it, we have to play in it. Defenses are loaded up, they have an attack mentality, the commitment to the running game is there, and then just terrific athletes and the quarterbacks playing in the division really makes it a great one. I don’t think anything is going to change much with that. I think  we are going to keep that up. Everybody is getting better, the Rams are getting better, they have a tremendous draft opportunity coming up. The Cardinals are just getting started — Bruce (Arians) did a tremendous job in his first year. And we are going to slug it out with the Niners too, you know. So the division is really, obviously a great strength in the league right now.’’

On how to evaluate if a player will be motivated in the NFL: “That’s a great science of this draft business is trying to figure out what is the makeup of the athlete and what kind of a competitor you get when you draft him. There is a long process that goes into that with a tremendous exchange of information to try to figure the guys out. We can measure this stuff — this stuff is not the hard part. The hard part is taking the measurements and then connecting that with the mentality of the player and figuring out what that’s really going to turn out. It’s a tremendous science there. Fortunately John Schneider and his guys are great at it and we have all the confidence in the world that we will figure it out as well as anybody. But it’s a challenge and for us, it’s that competitiveness that we are trying to find in the guys, that chip on the shoulder, that mentality that they have that will take them beyond where normal people go.’’

On if measuring that is a hit-and-miss deal: “Well it better not be hit-and-miss. We are not going to be successful if it is. There is tremendous savvy in this process. Coaches can evaluate players in one sense. The scouts and the personnel side of it, they see it a lot differently than we do as coaches, and we need all of that information to blend together to come up with the best decisions. And at that it’s still a crap shot, it’s still hard, it’s still very, very difficult to tell because you are trying to tell how a guy is going to perform in a different setting and all that. But our guys get good at it.’’

On the league being a copycat league and teams trying to find bigger cornerbacks like Seattle has: “No, because they don’t exist. Big, fast guys are the fewest people  around. Everybody would  like to get longer, taller guys that run 4.4. But there are just not very many humans like that in the world, you know. So it’s rare when you find them and then you have to develop the guys. The perfect guys are not there because there are not tall, exceedingly fast guys other than Calvin (Johnson), there are a handful. So you have to make those guys come to life in your coaching and how you adapt your style and your ability to fit it. We’ve been doing it for a long time and always been looking for longer guys because we have such a commitment to bump-and-run corners. This is nothing new — this goes back 20 years. But it’s just rare that you can find them. When we had Brandon (Browner) and Richard (Sherman) playing, you can’t get any longer. Those are the two tallest cornerbacks to play together arguably in the history of the league. So it’s ‘well let’s go do that.’ But there are no players like that. Look at this draft, there are only a couple of guys over 6-1 at corner. So that’s just how it goes.’’

On if he used to subscribe to the theory that mobile quarterbacks couldn’t win the Super Bowl: “I’m not very good at subscribing to those theories. That’s thee conventional wisdom. But it’s true — how many have been really run-around guys. But Russell (Wilson) is such a great blend. Look at him in the Super Bowl — he had a fantastic game in the pocket and then had 2-3 plays outside of the pocket that were exquisite. And that’s what made up his game in playing a great, championship football game. There are so few guys that even had a chance to play — Flutie played and just a few guys played that were the real mobile guys. Just haven’t been many chances. So the numbers back that up.’’

On how hard it is to find a safety with range like Earl Thomas to make the single-high safety work: “Earl’s an extraordinary player. But really through the history of how we have played, we have always had safeties that have been really good. Earl just happens to be one of the best ever for us and it’s because he’s so fast. Earl ran 4.3 for us down at Texas on timing day and he does it with an extraordinary commitment, too, because he’s such a committed football player. He’s a great player back there. But there are plenty of guys that can play deep middle in the style that we play. Earl’s just the best one and it’s pretty hard to beat him out.’’

On if Russell Okung had his surgery yet: “No. At this point he has not. At this point looks like they are not going to. But that’s not done yet. Still some work being done there.’’

On the maturation of Golden Tate: “Golden has really been a wonderful process to watch. He started out with just beautiful, natural ability and limited background, was a baseball player all through his career. Played a lot of spring baseball when he was in college. So he came in as a raw athlete to us, great talent and all, and it just took him a while as a number of receivers have taken over the years. The real natural guys that come out sometimes aren’t as attuned to the details of it and he needed to catch up to all of that. It took him a while to put himself in the position to be a leader. But because of his competitiveness and come-through ability and all of that, he is guy that guys really will  look to to make plays and come through for us. He’s not a guy that’[s going to say a lot, not a big voice in the locker room. But he adds some character for us and brings us leadership because of the plays that we can count on, we know what he can do.’’

On players coming in with some stories that might create a distraction and if he filters all that out and worries about distractions: “No, you have to take everything in — it’s the other way around. You look at every possible bit of information you can get about what this guy brings. Guys have different backgrounds, different makeups, different ways about them that make them unique contributors to their team, so you just have to figure it out. It doesn’t matter what it is, you just have to try to figure it out so you have a good evaluation and know what you are getting and just figure it out the best you can and move forward.’’

On if he would ever back off of a player due to distractions: “Sure, yeah, just depends on what the nature of it is and how that’s going to fit in with the overall performance of a player in making him a really productive team member.’’

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