Here’s some video and the transcript of Pete Carroll’s Thursday press conference at the VMAC (top and bottom of the post). The Seahawks head coach talks about his safties, his vision of the team and heaps plenty of praise on general manager John Schneider.
COACH CARROLL: Let it rip, what have you got?
Q: On Justin Britt not practicing yesterday… Is that a long term concern for the week?
COACH CARROLL: He’s going to go today. We’ll he’s got a little bit of a sore knee, so we’ll see how he goes today.
Q: What about Tony McDaniel?
COACH CARROLL: Yeah, he’s going to get some work. Sore shoulder, had to come out of the game, and he missed yesterday.
Q: They both look like they’re on track for Sunday though?
COACH CARROLL: I don’t know that until we practice. We’ve got to wait and see.
Q: Can you talk a little bit about at what point you started to feel comfortable with the way things were going here in Seattle? At what point did you start to see the vision of the team?
COACH CARROLL: That’s a good question. The vision was really clear from the start when we got here. I don’t think we really had a chance to get a real sense for what we were doing until the very end of the season. We kind of accomplished something the first year by getting an opportunity to get in the playoffs and get something going there.
So that was there for us right at the very end of the season. We had planned all year long to be in that situation and talking about it, but it was kind of not looking likely. When we had the chance, we played well. We got a couple games there and got going a little bit. I think that was the first time we felt like something that we had set out there for the players kind of came to us, and we were able to take advantage of the mentality that we could handle it if it came, and that was the start.
Q: Some of the guys said they really took until the midway point of 2011 until they felt their identity and what you guys wanted to do really took hold. Do you agree with that?
COACH CARROLL: Yeah, they know, I guess. If they felt it, then that sounds good.
Q: What do you look for in receivers in building the core of guys? Because it’s kind of a unique group of guys?
COACH CARROLL: That’s the right word. We’ve always looked for unique qualities. Receivers come in all shapes and sizes. They all can have their own style and all of that. We’re just trying to find guys that we thought would really battle and be tough and compete the way we wanted them to. We would try to make the best of the talents that they brought.
That is kind of how we look at it in general, and it applies maybe a little more clearly in the receiver position when you get guys that can be from the small fast guys, to the tall guys and all of that. But it’s always been about the competitiveness first, is what we’re looking for, then we’ll figure out what their talents are.
Q: Your five years here you guys have rebuilt this roster, won a Super Bowl, had the number one seed. There weren’t that many individual awards. Russell Wilson wasn’t to the Pro Bowl, all the way up to you and John Schneider. Not that you play for recognition, but do you feel unrecognized at all?
COACH CARROLL: No, I don’t have that sense. The fact that maybe John [Schneider] hasn’t been recognized in doing all of the things that he’s done. He’s done an incredible job from the beginning. First, just putting up with all my stuff and getting along with what we were doing, he adapted quickly, and we put our minds together and went after it.
But then from that point, has just worked tirelessly to continue to compete, to find guys to make this a healthy, competitive roster. I mean the hundreds of changes in the first year was just trying to find guys. The continuation of that, it changed in terms of the numbers, but the attitude, the approach, John just continued to battle for it. I don’t know how he couldn’t be recognized with the drafts that he’s had, with the free agency success he’s had, with the success of our lower draft picks that have come through. [J.R.] Sweezy’s changing position, Bruce [Irvin], people thought he couldn’t do it. Russell [Wilson] thought there is no way. All of those feelings have been turned into a whole different direction. His insight and his ability and really the creativity that he brings couldn’t have been more obvious.
But the rest of us, I don’t know. We’re just playing a game and we’re a team. But I think his situation here really should stand out and should be recognized.
Q: I think you guys had over 200 roster moves your first year, did you ever wonder if it was going to stay like that?
COACH CARROLL: There was no way. There was no way. The guys are just shuttling to the airport couldn’t have handled it. We couldn’t sustain that. But that was just a statement of how we were going to go about it.
The thing I think that John [Schneider] really jumped on was every single turn that there is there for an opportunity to find a player, all of the little transitions that take place, he’s going for it like it’s the only opportunity in the world. That nature and that competitiveness has really been part of our whole make up, and I think he’s been very instrumental. He’s obviously been instrumental in all of that.
Q: You thought in the approach that every week is a championship opportunity. It’s something we’ve gotten used to hearing from you in the last five years. Players that are new to the team said they’re amazed it really is true, even in the playoffs. Where did that come from, because we’ve heard it every week for the last five years?
COACH CARROLL: Are you saying you’re tired of hearing it? (Laughing) No, really there is a thought behind that. You also may notice that we don’t join in the conversation about rivals and match ups, and the TV opportunities, Monday nights, Thursday nights, Sunday nights, those kinds of things. Those are the big games and all of that. That’s not the best way in my mind for a competitor to approach the event.
Some games are bigger than others. Some carry a different weight than others. That means that some games carry less, and I don’t ever want our guys to think that. Every opportunity we have may be the one that decides the championship. That game that we lose to San Diego may have been the game that made the difference when you look back at the schedule. It’s mostly about applying yourself to the absolute max that you can every chance you go. I don’t think there is ever a chance that we should take when we decide a game is more important than another.
So in that, we prepare to do everything we possibly can, every single timeout, every day at practice, every day forever, and try to stay with that mentality and that discipline so that when the games come, like this one, this is a normal preparation for us and we’ve been there before. We’ve asked these guys to do what they always do, and demand that they stay on track just the way they did that got us to the game that’s put us in this position.
And that consistency, I would like to hope will tell a story when you look back sometime. You’ll see that our consistency in games whether they’re the highlight games or the consistency of how we finish or consistency of our performance in playoff time I hope will stand out because we know how to bring our best because we’ve been practicing it week after week after week after week and it becomes normal for us.
Q: When you brought John Schneider in, was it pretty clear right away? What stood out right off the bat?
COACH CARROLL: John? His amazing mind. He’s really smart, really sharp. He has a great quickness about it. His ability to handle a lot of stuff. He’s poised. He’s had a tremendous background that gave him a level of confidence that he can hang. He can just hang in any situation. It just came across. He was so comfortable answering questions and concepts and principles and even being challenged by the opportunity to tie it into another person’s ideas and concepts and creative thoughts he just he could do it.
Q: Did you fall in love like this is the guy?
COACH CARROLL: Well, we didn’t fall in love immediately. It was really clear to me. As a matter of fact, we interviewed him and sent him home and by the time we got there, he had already called him back and had phone calls waiting for him, so it didn’t take us very long. What was the other question over there?
Q: What was the first team that you applied that concept of every game is a championship opportunity?
COACH CARROLL: USC.
Q: How did you develop the chaos ideas towards the separation of players?
COACH CARROLL: How do we develop or how do we carry out? How do we develop it? I don’t know. It just made sense. How we carry it out and why we carry it out is these games are always full of all kinds of things happening. Whether it’s the crowd, the setting, the weather, the time on the clock. There are a lot of variables out there available to be connected to and distracted by.
So the more accustomed we get to things going on all around us when we need to focus is really the idea. That’s where it comes from. Let’s have our ability to hold on to the focus that allows us to perform like we’re capable regardless of what the setting is or what’s going on around us.
So that also calls for the flexibility to be able to be in one mindset, and then it flips and you have to handle other stuff. But you still have to stay true to who you are and what you’re doing. So that is what’s behind that thinking.
Q: When John [Schneider] was hired, there was this assumption that here’s a young guy that is going to be with Pete, and Pete’s going to be the de facto general manager. Were you looking for pushback from him to challenge you at every turn? When did you see that?
COACH CARROLL: Absolutely. I was hoping to have a guy to work with that would have an abundance of ideas and beliefs. I’m okay about that. As long as we work at developing the ideas and the thoughts behind it and where it’s going to take us and come to where we can do all the strategy that we can agree upon. I’m fine with that. I want more ideas, more input, the better for me. Interesting for me. John’s like that too. He’s very agile in the way he goes about stuff and the way he thinks.
So it’s a blast for us to kind of (No microphone). And that comes from trust. It comes out of trust that we’ll eventually get to the point where we’ll agree and make the best decision we possibly can, and who can make it better than the two of us in connection to how we think.
Q: What do you think most about your time coaching Clay Matthews at SC, and what have you thought about his career?
COACH CARROLL: That’s a really interesting story. Clay comes from a great family, an SC family. Dad, uncle and all of that had been All Americans and All Pros and all of that. His older brother was a walk on player before him. When Clay came in he was 208 pounds and he didn’t run really well. He wasn’t really strong, but he loved playing and he tried really hard. Unfortunately, this is one of the great mistakes that I missed in my coaching at SC was how good of a player he was. I had said going in I think maybe his junior year somebody asked me about Clay Matthews and I said I think he might be one of the best special teamers to ever play at USC. He was a great player on teams. I knew I couldn’t really validate that, but I was blowing him up because he was a great kid. Well, when we got to his senior year, he wasn’t starting. He didn’t start the first game. I think we were playing Oregon State, and we had some problems. We put him in the game, and said we know Clay will do the right thing. He started playing there, and he’s been a great player since the time he was given the opportunity to show it. He was always there banging away. Always there fighting, clawing and scratching. Maybe because of the way he came up, it took him a long time to develop, and didn’t recognize the great heart that he had, and unbelievable competitiveness and the great savvy that he demonstrates now. It’s really one of my big misses. I should have figured that out a lot sooner than I did. He made the rest of it history and been an extraordinary player ever since.
Q: Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor still complement each other, is that the way you sort of envisioned it all fitting together five years ago?
COACH CARROLL: I’ve always looked for tall guys, long, tall guys. Long arm span and all of that that can run really fast. And there are very few guys like that. There are a lot of faster, smaller guys. The average corner in the NFL for the longest time has been 5′ 10.5″, so I’ve always looked for a longer guys.
In the safety position, it’s a position that I’ve had the opportunity to coach a lot of really great safeties. They’ve come in all different sizes and shapes. From Troy Polamalu to Ronnie Lott, to Kam, you look at that kind of range there. There are ways to utilize their uniqueness if you allow for that. So just looking for special quality, special style and it separates them, and we fit it together however we need to. But it’s always been with the thought of trying to get tall corners.
Q: The adage in baseball is you build a defense up the middle, catcher, shortstop, second base. Is that in a sense what you tried to do here with Kam and Earl and Bobby Wagner?
COACH CARROLL: I’ve never thought about that necessarily. But that’s somebody’s idea that you do that from the middle out, like shortstops, and catchers and pitchers and stuff. It’s a nice thought. If you can, you do that. I think it’s a good idea if you can get a great nose tackle, and free safety, and great quarterback and tailback. That’s a good place to start. I’ve never looked at it that way. I’ve never built it based on that. We take that as it comes kind of.
Q: You expected Jeron Johnson to make a quick turn eventually. He was able to go yesterday, did that happen?
COACH CARROLL: He did practice yesterday throughout the whole practice. We need to see him show that he’s a little more flexible. He’s still got his arm in a brace right now. We need to see how that goes through the week, but he’ll practice again today.
Q: Coming back to Clay Matthews. You guys still stay in touch at all?
COACH CARROLL: Not too much. But because the SC family, everybody is always kind of keeping track of everybody else. We always have an eye on each other, I think. But I haven’t talked to him too much lately.
Q: You’re at the top of the league in players having gone on injured reserve. Has that been tough to fight through and do you feel fortunate that you’ve been able to stay where you are?
COACH CARROLL: I think that is another statement going back to John in the personnel department, how well they’ve done to continue to find guys. I think Marcus Burley is an extraordinary example of that. It was an extensive study that was done at the end of preseason, and his guys found Marcus. This is a guy we think can jump in and help us. And sure enough we had Trey to trade a pick to get him, and he played great football for us. And he’s been a terrific addition to the team. We’ve just been very fortunate, but I think it’s more than that. I think it’s really John’s work to find guys and continue to bring us guys that can come in and play foible. Tony Moeaki is a great example as we lose Zach [Miller]. A guy that’s been able to jump in and play flag football and he was out sitting at home. He’s done that time and time again.
So that’s been a big part of it. I think it’s also just depth in general. So you lose a guy, the next guy steps up and he’s able to play and jump in. I think the commitment to a young roster, young competitive guys always fighting for their jobs and not protecting the guys in their starting positions and thinking they’re going to be there forever. We don’t do that. We’re always competing to find the guys that can push the guys on top. And everybody in the program knows that, and John’s followed that really well.
Q: One of the things that Russell Wilson said yesterday is he thinks his team is stronger because he had to find a way earlier in the season. Do you agree with that and do you know what he’s talking about?
COACH CARROLL: Yeah, I think we do feel pretty strong about what we’re able to do and all that. We’re feeling good about where we are right now and excited to be in this situation and all. I always agree with Russell.
Q: Following up on Mike’s question, is there something to the notion that a team that has you’ve seen teams win the Super Bowl that have had rough patches during the year, it hasn’t been a frictionless deal. Does that strengthen a team at the end of the year having made it through?
COACH CARROLL: I think it’s how you come out of those challenges is what can be powerful. It’s not so much that you have issues. Everybody has issues. There are always challenges in every football season. I’ve said that earlier in the year. You have to have a mentality to develop your guys so that when things happen they can be strong enough to make it through it. But it’s really how you come out of those things and what you do about the hurdle that you just had to get over, and the obstacle that could be. That goes back to mentality and guys being really committed and they’re not going to let anything get in the way, but it often happens.
I think there are some big issues that you’ve got to make it through and you’ve got to come out stronger. They give you those challenges that you’re either going to get tough or die. And I think that kind of happens.
Every coach in every sport is faced with those kinds of situations, so it’s really the preparation of the mindset when you come out of those kind of deals that are crucial.
Q: Darrell Bevell was giving John Schneider a lot of credit with Russell Wilson and that decision. Early on, how much was he counted on driving that?
COACH CARROLL: Russell? No, no, the story is John really was on that one. He said I’ve got this guy, you’re not going to believe how good he is. He went out and saw him play early in the year in his senior year at Wisconsin. Of Course he was a Wisconsin guy, so John loved that. So that started the process. And we were in that conversation throughout his senior season, John saw him again I think in the Rose Bowl, and then we visited with him.
So John was really the guy that was on that from the start. He showed him to me, and I fell in love with him too. And from there we were tied together on that one.