Non-Obsessive Carroll Tries To Get Seahawks Back On Track

Pete Carroll

Pete Carroll understands the big picture.

He understands there is more to life than football, and that if his Seattle Seahawks beat the Oakland Raiders Sunday that will be great, but if the worst thing that happens is that they lose and suffer national humiliation, that’s OK too because Carroll’s going to get up Monday morning and go back to work.

Actually, a loss to the Raiders might keep Carroll up and prevent him from getting a good night’s sleep. But you get the message. He is nothing like Bill Belichick or Tom Coughlin when it comes to chasing down the obsession of winning.

Carroll wants to win as much as either of those men, but when it comes to sacrificing his entire personal and family life, he’s not going to do it.

The tunnel vision that so many head coaches and assistant coaches have is something he can’t relate to. There is so much more to life than winning NFL games.

If you had asked half the coaches in the NFL to name the teams playing in the World Series, they couldn’t have done it. Carroll knew the Kansas City Royals were playing the San Francisco Giants, and he was paying attention. Not only does Carroll like other sports, he happens to love the Giants. That’s the team he has followed since childhood, and he is basking the reflected glory that comes when you root for a team that has Madison Bumgarner doing the pitching.

Here’s the other thing about Pete Carroll. He cares about his players as much as he cares about winning. That’s a rarity, but don’t take this to mean that he cares about his players at the expense of winning. That’s not the case at all, as Percy Harvin found out when Carroll traded him earlier this month to the New York Jets.

Carroll was pining for Harvin throughout the 2013 season when the Seahawks were piling up victory after victory. Carroll loved his team’s direction, its dominance at home, the marauding play of the defense and the efficiency and intelligence of Russell Wilson at quarterback.

But what he wanted was an offense that breathed fire. An offense could string two or three touchdowns together and turn a close game into a blowout. The Seahawks needed Harvin in the lineup, but a hip labrum issue was keeping him from playing.

The image in Carroll’s mind turned out to be a lot better than the real thing. Harvin finally got to play and contribute in the Super Bowl, and that was the indicator that barring any new problems, Harvin was going to be a key performer in 2014.

However, when offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell called too many bubble screens for Harvin’s liking and not enough downfield plays, the receiver made no attempt to hide his contempt for the gameplan or the man who drew it up.

Carroll saw that his dream player was acting the fool and disturbing his team, so he up and traded him to the Jets.

Despite the way it sounds, it was not such an easy call. For one thing, Harvin had a lot of friends in the lockerroom. While some players were not happy with his diva-like demeanor, he had plenty of supporters.

So the team became divided right after the trade, and Carroll made it a point to talk to his players individually as a result. He was not going to try to convince players to like the move, he was merely listening to what each player had to say and he was sharing his own thought process.

Nobody else does that. Belichick barely explains things to his own coaches, let alone his players. Even in today’s NFL, where the my-way-or-the-highway coach has all but disappeared – we see you, Tom Coughlin – this type of communication goes above and beyond what any other coach would do.

Carroll urges his team to compete with every breath that he takes. Having a wideout who was critical of one of his coaches and very unhappy with his role took away from his competitiveness. That’s why Harvin was moved.

If any player can reach their core and pull out their best effort on an every-day basis, that’s the type of individual Carroll wants on his team.

He will not browbeat players, he will only enhance the atmosphere to bring out their best effort.

There is nobody in football like him because he is so relentlessly positive and relentlessly competitive.

The Seahawks have had difficulties this year as they have lost games they could have won and there have been problems in the lockerroom with players.

But Carroll sees only the positive and knows that the problems will be solved and he knows his team can win the Lombardi Trophy once again.

If they fall short, he is not going to fall down and die. He will just breathe deeply, roll up his sleeves and go back to work. With a smile on his face.

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Steve Silverman
Steve Silverman is a longtime sportswriter who spent 10 years as senior editor at Pro Football Weekly and he has also written for the Wall Street Journal, ESPN Magazine, MSNBC, and Silverman currently covers all sports – including the NFL – for CBS New York and Bleacher Report.