Friday, April 13, 2012

Why Seattle doubts Pete Carroll.

There is no such thing as a perfect football coach, or any coach for that matter. For our purposes here, we will focus just on football. Vince Lombardi wasn't a perfect coach, in fact, he was utterly useless during an actual game. Lombardi was great at preparation during the week, and back when coaches were only moderate control freaks, he let his quarterback call all of his own plays.  Lombardi also gave up creativity for precision with a 12 play playbook that was rarely entirely used. You take the good with the bad. The Packers ran the sweep better than any team in NFL history, if you stopped the sweep, the Packers had little else to beat you with.

With that in mind, I shift my gaze at Pete Carroll. I wasn't a fan of the fact the Seahawks hired him.  All I could think of was the fact that he'd been fired twice in the NFL and his USC teams played with an astounding degree of sloppiness against teams they didn't respect and the fact that USC had awful clock management in Carroll's time there. As a Seahawks fan, I'd already seen a successful college coach(Dennis Erickson), flounder in mediocrity upon arriving to the NFL. Erickson ran a program at Miami very similar to USC's, and was about to be hit with sanctions right before he left, much like USC was.(The sanctions USC suffered will get their due diligence in another blog).

Then I read Pete Carroll's book. You may scoff at the notion that a book can completely change a perception of someone. But it added illumination and reasoning to what people saw of Pete Carroll, the hyper-kinetic "raw raw" coach. Carroll stresses the desire to do things better than you've ever done them before. A mantra of constant improvement. He formed this philosophy after the New England Patriots fired him and he's been ridiculously successful ever since. Has he become the perfect coach? No, does he still have clock management issues? Yes. Do the Seahawks commit a lot of penalties? Yes, but they are improving in that regard. Do I like what he's doing? Yes.

In the two years he's been the Seahawks coach, he has completely rebuilt the team while still remaining competitive. That is something the Rams have been trying and failing to do since 2007. He's laid a significant foundation for what I think will become one of the best defenses in the league. He's rebuilt the offensive line into a powerful, nasty, physical unit if it can stay healthy, and he has added depth. The Seahawks are bigger,stronger, faster, younger and better than they were when he and John Schneider took over.

So why is everyone still skeptical? Why do I turn on the sports radio stations in Seattle during football seasons and constantly here digs at Pete Carroll and tons of negativity? Why, after two games of the season last season did Hugh Millen suggest Seahawks fans march to Renton at the Seahawks headquarters and demand an explanation for the max protection schemes the Seahawks used against the 49ers and Steelers elite defenses with two rookie offensive linemen who had no OTA's and virtually no training camp reps? Why did Ian Furness unceasingly bitch and moan about the lack of "leadership" the Seahawks didn't have and would never have again because they cut his beloved Lofa Tatupu?

Key questions, and a long answer. Pete Carroll isn't a "traditional" football coach. He isn't a large, intimidating presence. He doesn't scream at players on the sideline. He's not Mike Holmgren. For the record, everyone loved Mike Holmgren. He was successful, and good with the media. As in, he tricked the media into thinking he was actually telling them something insightful because he used his grandfatherly tone and smiled a lot. Pete Carroll says nothing by saying a lot of nothing. The opposite of Bill Belichick.  Belichick got fired from Cleveland because he made enemies with the media, and they turned the public against him. Same thing has been attempted by some of the Seattle media because he's late for press conferences and doesn't butter them up like Holmgren did. And he replaced one of the local good old boys Jim Mora.

Furthermore, Pete Carroll coached at USC. The rest of the old Pac-10 conference hates USC because USC has dominated from when it was the Pac-8, to 2008, with the 90's being the only time that wasn't the case. Pete Carroll murdered the Cougars and Huskies every year, only losing to the Washington schools three times, and once after he really got going in 2003. It smacks of bitterness about getting slaughtered every year by the renegade program down south.  I know for a fact that it kills some old Husky alums that they have a USC guy coaching UW as well. To me, its ridiculous, but its there.

In sum, people still have it in their mind that Pete Carroll is a flake, that he's a coward because he fled a sinking ship at USC(BS, but whatever). People hate on him because his approach is non traditional. People doubt him because they still are licking their wounds from years of USC beating UW and WSU by 30-50 points yearly. I don't doubt, he isn't perfect, he has his flaws, just like any successful coach. But I am fairly confident that this guy is going to win the Seahawks the Super Bowl. And I intend to enjoy the ride.

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