Here is the official transcript of what Seattle coach Pete Carroll had to say to the media today:
(Opening) This is a huge week – an exciting week. We’re very fortunate we had the week off last week and we tried to take full advantage of that but to get back down to the game plan and working it is really exciting and fun. We’re looking forward to it. It’s a huge matchup for us and we have tremendous respect for this team – their players, the coach. Ron [Rivera] has done a great job. This team is very proud – look at the way they bounced back from the season and got themselves going and have played great football. Their numbers in the last five weeks are off the charts and show what kind of team they are. They have done a similar turnaround that we feel like we did by midyear time. We know there is a lot of value in that and the motivation that comes from playing like that and performing like that so it’s a very exciting matchup and a very big chance for us to play a game here at home – a great deal for our players. We love playing here for the 12s – they will be pumped up I know. Hopefully we put together a great matchup for everyone.
(On how different this matchup looks compared to when these two teams played in October) I don’t know think it does much at all because we had really high regard for them then and went into the game with that kind of respect and played a really tough, rugged football game against them and we were very fortunate to get out of there with a win. That was early in the year and they’ve had some issues after that but at that time we knew they were a championship team coming off the year before and all that and respect them in that manner.
(On if he feels like he has a pretty good familiarity with who the Panthers are) Not exactly but we have had the continuity of playing them. I always liked that – we have a familiarity, we have background – stuff to go on as we prepare and all that so more so than some other teams we could have played.
(On Max Unger and Jordan Hill) Max is practicing – looks like he’s going to be in good shape. Jordan is not going to make it. He will not play.
(On how he would describe home field advantage) We’re very fortunate to even talk like that. To have a history of playing well at home is really important. I never think you can be a championship team unless you have a great advantage when you play at home. You have to dominate your opportunities at home and we’re very fortunate in that. We’ve had a great relationship with our fans and all and our guys have really played good ball there and all so we’re thrilled and lucky to have it.
(On the defense being able to contain Cam Newton very well in the last three meetings and if there is a secret to that) No. We’ve been very fortunate that he’s been on the verge of making plays every game that we’ve had. The games there were all very similar – they’re tough games right down to the end and we had to finish and get something done. We were fortunate enough to do that. We were very fortunate, if you remember, a couple of years ago when we got a turnover late when they were going in to put the game away and turned it. He’s such a dynamic football player and they use him – I mean it’s like they have the Panther offense – it’s their offense with him back there and nobody else plays like them at all and it’s because he has so many things that he can do so well. I don’t know about the past but right now we feel like we have our hands full.
(On how he studied Cam Newton’s rookie year) What you’re referring to is coming out of college – the accuracy and the percentage of and really, the strike-ability that he had on big plays, down the field, coming through and making those throws and converting was way higher than anybody else who came out that year. We recognized that and sure enough, he comes right in the league and remember he threw 400-yards back-to-back the first two games he played and all of that showed up. It’s been part of his game throughout. You have to do a great job staying on top because he can get you and he can get you late in the play rhythm too which is really the most difficult aspect to defend. We really stress it and we emphasize it in a big way all the time and again it’s going to be really important here this week.
(On if Jordan Hill’s injury will keep him out if the team advances) Yes. He actually injured himself working out over the weekend. He has a pretty severe calf pull that’s going to keep him out on the other leg so it wasn’t the knee thing that happened in the game so he’s going to be out.
(On how he will replace Jordan Hill on the defensive line) Well, Demarcus Dobbs looks like he’s coming back. He’s going to practice this week. It’s been an effective rehab getting him right so he looked really good in the workout so we think he has a chance to fill that spot for us.
(On Dan Quinn being sought after for head coaching) Well he’s been very successful. He’s got tremendous relationships wherever he’s been around the league. He’s been a guy that wherever he goes people rave about. We feel the same way. We were with him when we first got here – he took off to be a coordinator at Florida and we missed him and hoped we would get him back someday. We were very fortunate to do all that. He’s had a great history. He’s a great communicator. He’s a fantastic teacher. He’s got a real toughness about him – innovative. He has all of the attributes of being a successful guy moving forward so when that time comes we will expect to see him land one of those jobs and we will look forward to playing against him.
(On Landon Cohen and if the Jordan Hill situation led to his signing yesterday) Yes, it did. Landon was a very active player. We had our eye on him. We’ve had him in earlier in the year when we had potential opportunities to get him on the roster so because of his activity, his similar to the way Jordan played and so we saw that connection. He will get a chance. We will see how he does. We don’t know how he’s going to do. He’s been out all year so Demarcus would jump into that spot and then we would let Landon compete and see what happens and we will take it one day at a time.
(On David King) David is going to play. He’s been playing for us and he’s in the rotation so he’s a much different body type and style player so it doesn’t fit that role. David becomes more important to us because Jordan won’t be there to back up at the other spots.
(On Jeron Johnson and Jermaine Kearse) Jermaine is practicing and in good shape and ready to go. He had a really successful rehab. Jeron won’t make it back. He’s not going to make it this week.
(On what the Panthers have done different defensively the last six weeks to make them better) Everything is elevated – their pursuit, the energy of the team. We watched them the other night. They were flying. Thomas Davis has really been a great complement to get him back and be part of what Luke [Kuechly] brings. They have always been a really good defense. There was a span in there where they weren’t quite as effective but they’re back to what they were when we saw them last year and the great run they had. So it’s a dynamic group – they’re aggressive. The linebacker play is phenomenal so they cause a lot of problems.
(On if he liked Luke Kuechly) We thought he was a great player. We’re not surprised at all at how good he is. John [Schneider] was all over it and our guys knew him really well. We had him inside and out. We thought he would be a great player.
(On if he sees similarities between Luke Kuechly and Bobby Wagner) Yeah, I think they’re both really good athletes. They run like crazy. They’re right in the middle of the defense where they make a ton of plays. We love the way Bobby plays. We think he’s a great football player and just getting to the height of his game. In the years to come he will continue to improve. But they are similar in that they’re very active, they’re very athletic, very good pass defenders, really good all-around athletes. They can run with any of the running backs – makes them very special.
(On the similarities between Thomas Davis and K.J. Wright) There are some similarities. They run about the same time – they’re both kind of long guys. They’re very active – good pressuring as well as in pass coverage. I think there are a lot of similarities in their style of play.
(On how important it is to have a player like Michael Bennett) Mike has been a really good player – what a great pickup for us. He’s been so active. He’s brought us a real style of play. This is a classic guy that we talk about – he has a uniqueness about him. We’ve tried to place him to amplify that. He can play end and he can play tackle and he can rush from anywhere on the field. He’s got a real knack. The best part about Mike is his motor. He has such a great motor. He continues to bring the effort and takes advantage of any slight or any slip that a lineman may make and can cause problems in a run and a pass. He’s been a really instrumental player for us in the last couple of years without him we would not be the same.
(On why at Bennett’s size is he able to take on guards) He’s an extraordinarily savvy player. He senses what’s going on. He has a kind of feel for plays and blocking schemes that allows him to take advantage of getting in the crease and avoiding and slipping a block, crossing a down block and things that take years to teach players. He’s got a real knack for that. We allow him to have some freedom to do those things because otherwise, you’d restrict him and he would be a 280-pound guy that might be getting knocked around. He gives you problems because he doesn’t give you a good target and that’s because of his awareness. He’s got terrific quickness to do too to do that.
(On what freedoms they give Bennett) Well we know that Mike is going to slip some blocks at times. He’s going to take the opportunity to penetrate. He had a great one last week. He hit him in the backfield early in the game when he released on a play. He sensed a play was going away and he took a shot within his gap control so we allow him to do those things. Some guys we wouldn’t trust to do it at the right time. Mike has great sense about how to maximize those opportunities.
(On Bruce Irvin playing both spots) It’s worked out great. When we went after him, we thought he would be a very special pass rusher because of his terrific speed. We thought he would have the ability to do other things beyond that and in time, it took us a little while, we tried to make it easy for him at first and left him at the Leo spot, as we grew with him, we expanded with him – he picked things up, he learned well.
(On Bruce Irvin and Michael Bennett having more snaps this year than last and how comfortable he is with it) Too late now. No, we’re way beyond that. We didn’t know the guys as well last year. We weren’t sure about Cliff [Avril] and we weren’t sure about what we were going to get. Remember Cliff [Avril] missed all of the preseason stuff so we weren’t sure until we got into the season –and we didn’t know about Michael [Bennett] either. We weren’t quite sure of how to utilize him, but in time we figured we need to get those guys on the field more. The idea is to keep them as fresh and healthy as possible while you do that. As long as they’re hanging in there and we practice them accordingly and we try to manage their time so that they can withstand it. Both of them are doing fine and there could be a time if we could afford the ability to rotate them we would more. But we don’t feel like we’ve been able to do that. When we lost Cassius Marsh that factored in to those guys and we thought he would be a real role player for us. We still govern it but we’re getting a lot out of those guys.
(On what Jonathan Stewart has done for Carolina’s offense) He’s a fantastic football player. I’ve always loved this kid, the way he runs. He’s always been a guy who has a knack to just keep getting through tackles. It looks like he should go down, a lot of guys get tackled and he just keeps going. He’s got great lower body strength, he’s got an explosion to him that allows him to bounce and separate from tacklers, and he has good enough speed to break plays. He’s a good catcher as well. He’ll block you. He’s a terrific football player. That’s the first guy we talked about in the running game. We have to get him on the ground and that’s going to take a really great effort of consistent team tackling to do that.
(On a renewed emphasis on the run game from the league in general) No they can do whatever they want. I don’t care. There’s a constant emphasis for us. The way we want to play, but I don’t care how the league does it.
(On what it means to have Max Unger back in the offensive line) Well we won’t do things any different, but when Max [Unger] plays, our numbers are a little bit better. It actually statistically shows up, we’re running the ball a little bit better, we protect a little bit better, and everything –that’s his guidance and his experience for the other guys up there. He’s an expert at recognizing looks and calls and directing what’s going on there. So it just stands the reason that we maximize more so with him there. We’ll just be a little bit more accurate with stuff and the kind of experience that just takes time to get. Patrick [Lewis] and Lemuel [Jeanpierre], they just haven’t had the background. It’s a wonderful dimension for us that helps us just be right more and that’s a really important thing in the game. Particularly up front. The thing I like I would like to say about Max [Unger] is he and Tom [Cable] have communicated so well. He really knows what Tom [Cable] is looking for and what he wants; so we get the benefit of that great connection that those guys have.
(On the key to the fewest turnovers) Emphasis. It’s totally emphasis. That comes with commitment to the value I think. Commitment to the value of controlling the ball on offense and taking care of it and getting after it. I’ve been trying to emphasize this better than anybody in the world for as long as I’ve been a head coach. I think it’s that crucial. How many creative ways can you bring the point back to the surface again so these guys will take advantage of those obstacles. Every time you snap the football the ball is available. Every snap. You never quite get a max there but we keep working at it.
(On Russell Wilson fumbling 11 times, but never having lost the ball –brilliant coaching or him being closer to the ball) You got it right. Yeah.
(On the call and non-call on the Detroit-Dallas game) Startling. I thought it was startling. That was just an unusual situation that occurred there and it was an extraordinary call –whether I’m right or wrong, the officials already told you what they thought. The startling call for that moment in that game and really what happened was Dallas took full advantage of that opportunity and won a great football game. That’s what you do. You can’t do anything about the calls. They’re already done.
(On Michael Bennett and how he plays on the line and how Dan Quinn has influenced the defense, going back to Red Bryant’s usage at DE) Dan Quinn – he’s part of every discussion. We try to have a real open mind and try to look into these guys and figure what is the expansive, what they can bring us, and Dan’s all over it. He’s a tremendous evaluator of talent and has always been a guy that John [Schneider] and I have leaned on as we asses guys. We’re always looking for unique qualities so he’s great at doing that. So he’s been a part of that, actively throughout.
(On what effect Tony Moeaki and Luke Willson have had on the offense since losing Zach Miller) It’s a big loss. Zach [Miller] does everything really well. We’ve not really been able to replace that. Zach [Miller] does a lot more stuff than we do now, for us in the back field, full back stuff that he could play for us. He’s done so many things in his background that we could call on things for him to do and he was just really good at it. Tony [Moeaki] has a good background. He’s a versatile player. He and Luke [Willson] and Coop [Helfet] have done a nice job at filling that position for us. I think really the tight end position has picked up for us – production here in the last six weeks or seven weeks or so. That’s been nice just to add that to the offense.
(On Darrell Bevell’s impact) I think Darrell [Bevell] does a great job. I’m so compatible with him and his play calling and his game planning, the utilization of our players, and the flexibility that’s necessary when you’re there. Particularly the example, as the players and the dynamics of the players has changed his ability to try and figure out how to best use guys. I think he does a terrific job. He and Tom [Cable] are the guys that lead the charge there in the offense and are a really good team. They match up really well. Tom’s [Cable] got this great focus on the run game and the things we need there. Darrell [Bevell] connects that and Tom [Cable] connects that back and forth. Those two guys are a great one-two punch for us and I like everything about what he brings.
(On how often he interjects during a game) It’s kind of an ongoing conversation really. I don’t really keep track, but they only gripe at me four five times a game. But I’m just in on the discussion. It’s not always right during the sequence, it’s a lot of times before and whatever. We’re talking about what’s happening and are we making the plan come to life and sometimes we have to make some adjustments to get back on track or to change what we’re doing. I’m just in that conversation. It’s ongoing throughout the week. We never stop those conversations. During game time it’s just the same. I have tremendous respect for the play calling and the focus that it takes. I don’t talk to Bevell when he’s making his calls. I’ll get him at different times or I’ll talk to Tom [Cable] about the run thoughts when there’s time for them to talk about it but not during the sequencing, because that’s not the way you should disrupt their mindset at that time.
(On evaluating receivers not just on talent but on how he handles situations and whether or not they want the ball) Pretty locked in. Those guys really want the ball a lot. They’re pretty famous for that right now. Everything counts. Everything counts when we’re making evaluations on guys. There is certainly a wide range of talent at that position. You go from the smallest guys to the tallest guys and they all can be effective. The makeup of the guy, the attitude that he brings, the toughness that he brings, and the grit that the guy brings, that has a lot to do with the guys that we like. We’ve got a very feisty, competitive bunch of guys and they complement one and other but they’re all unique in their ways. So, I think the answer is yes.
(On how Tharold Simon is) He’s ready to go. He’s fine. He’s full speed. We’re very healthy fortunately at this time and unfortunately Jordan [Hill] and Jeron [Johnson] are not going to make it but with a few guys coming back, Jermaine [Kearse] coming back to full speed. Demarcus [Dobbs] coming back. We feel very good about –we’re very fortunate. I think our guys have done a great job of getting our guys back in the flow. Even though there’s been losses during the season, I think Max [Unger] coming back and Russell [Okung] last week, all of that adds to the feeling that we’re pretty strong going in to the playoffs right now.
(On the significance of explosive plays on offense and where that stacks up with everything from this season) It’s hugely important. Both sides of the ball. We’re really proud of the other side of the ball too. Doing a nice job of not allowing explosive plays too. It’s a huge part of the game. Explosive plays within a drive significantly change your opportunity to score. It’s really important to try and create those plays –we’re very fortunate that the quarterback has a lot to do with that. Russell [Wilson] has made so many plays with his legs as well as throwing the football. Marshawn’s [Lynch] explosive plays as well. Guys catching and running and all that. Really I think it’s Russell’s [Wilson] contribution in the running game that is really accentuated those numbers and really given us a chance to be difficult to deal with and maybe a little atypical for what most of the stats stack up for other teams and all that.
(On Mike Morgan taking a special teams role) Mike [Morgan] has done a really nice job. Mike [Morgan] has grown into a real vocal leader for us. I’ve really been proud to see that. I’ve been coaching Mike [Morgan] since sixth grade –seems like, sorry. This is the best he’s ever been. He’s performing the best. He’s adding the most. Contributing the most that he ever has and Heath [Farwell] has been a terrific leader. Guys really looked up to him. The fact that we’ve been able to keep Heath around the program has been helpful but Mike [Morgan] has noticeably taken a bigger role in that regard and it’s been welcomed.