BY Art Thiel 01:04PM 12/22/2014

Thiel: Carroll explains his mindset for big games

He has said it many times, but after yet another prime-time blowout on national TV, it’s worth hearing Pete Carroll explain how the moment never gets too big for the Seahawks.

Bruce Arians greets Pete Carroll after the NFC West lead changed hands Sunday night in Glendale, AZ. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

The Seahawks advanced their record in prime-time, nationally telecast games under coach Pete Carroll to 15-1 with the 35-6 rub-out of the Cardinals Sunday. Given that the networks’ attempt to schedule what are anticipated to be quality match-ups, the record is nothing short of phenomenal.

Carroll is often asked about how he gets his team up for such games, and he always answers the same way: We don’t. The theme is a familiar one to reporters who follow the Seahawks regularly. But on his weekly show on ESPN 710 Monday morning,  Carroll addressed the topic at length.

Given the dominance shown on both sides of the ball over a good Cardinals team in their sold-out house, his explainer is worth sharing for fans who haven’t heard it, and a reminder for others who may have in their jobs what they perceive to be big moments and small moments.

Asked about the home game Sunday against the always aggravating St. Louis Rams, from which a win would give Seattle a No. 1 seed in the NFC and its benefits — a first-round bye and home games in the next two rounds — Carroll expounded:

“We’ve been preparing for this game for years. When it comes down to this game, we’ll be ready. Our guys would play tomorrow if they could. They’re having the time of their lives.

“We don’t ever want to adjust our play to who we’re playing; what the match-up calls for, or the setting, or the hype. We go the other way — it doesn’t matter who or where we’re playing.

“What matters is: Do we prepare right? Do we respect the opponent? Do we prepare like we’re capable?

“We get these (prime-time games), and we get to show we know how to do that. Not playing to the moment, but the way we prepare to play. That’s something we have great control over.

“When we try to match up this, match up that, this coach or that player, you don’t always hit it. Then, what happens next week when you don’t (have a big-time game)? Do we not play as fired up for that game? That’s why with every practice, with every rep, we try to do it as hard as we can. We condition our minds that that is the only way we can do it.

“Now we have a championship game. We should take it right in stride.”

The aspect of mental conditioning is what is separating the Seahawks from the NFL. Yes, it helps to have quality talent — with the way he runs, Marshawn Lynch can crush the soul of any opponent, and probably the bricks in China’s Great Wall  — but quality teams can falter without proper mental conditioning. Hell, the Seahawks faltered in their 3-3 start.

They are not cyborgs, and mental conditioning is not a switch to be flipped. Earl Thomas admitted early in the season he didn’t have that championship feeling. But it can be regained with mental rehearsals and repetitive drills. The route is never automatic, but it can become familiar.

The result is what you saw Sunday, and what Carroll felt.

“I had as much fun as you can have coaching,” he said. “For me, it’s a blast. I’m just cheerleading.”

Doing a good thing well and often is a blast. Feel free to take notes, for whatever your endeavor.


  • Warchild_70

    HAWKS BABY!!!! Bring on the RAMs and their trick, school yard plays. We’ll know by the 2nd quarter where this game is going to end.I’m very optimistic (with due caution) that this is our year again, and why not? Let’s get the starters healthy and keep the spares in they showed me they ARE capable,athletic, pros ready to stand in the gap. GO HAWKS!!!!!

    • art thiel

      Big game for the backups. Carroll makes a big effort to keep all engaged, even when injuries don’t force him to.

      • Schaefdawg

        I know its already been said, but the play of the O-line, I believe, makes or breaks this game. Britt has taken some heat, and rightly so, but instead of making him the goat, they coach him up, get him ready, make him more intelligent. His physical skills can’t really be improved that much. But his game intelligence can be improved. Again, great statement game for the O-line and for the Hawks!

        • Jim S.

          If the online is one of the weaker links on this team, how can the seahawks be #1 in rushing. They are doing just fine.

  • 1coolguy

    Carroll is truly showing that he has brought another dimension to the game. Certainly other successful coaches have and yet most do not. It’s not all about physical talent, play calling, etc: The mental preparedness, in a true sense, which Carroll PRACTICES and implements, not simply talks about, is an aspect that makes his teams perform at a higher level. It is fascinating to watch over the years, beginning with the USC teams he instituted this philosophy with, through to these Hawks. We are watching a unique occurrence in sport, one to savor and appreciate.

    • ulc

      cooldude, I completely agree with you, you’re right on the money. Pete’s philosophy is one that can be used in football and life. Excellent!!

      Go Hawks!

    • Jamo57

      The interesting thing is how the players speak the same way. Reading these quotes, I can easily see them coming from Russell Wilson or Earl Thomas III.

    • John M

      Certainly an unusual occurrence in this sport if not unique. I agree, they’re having fun and so are we. Having survived the Bering years, I’ll enjoy every moment available. Go Hawks . . .

  • Jamo57

    So the Hawks blow out teams on prime time at home and blow them out on the road too. Does that mean no primetime slots at all next year? Gotta sell cars and beer, I guess.

    • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

      Go stand in the corner,Hawks! You played a Sunday night game in Philly and you knocked off an undefeated team at home!You did it again on Dec 21st ~AZ was 7~0 going into that prime time game and you whitewashed them so hard you wiped the red right off of their jerseys!And the poor NFL Fans…..Eastern Seaboard people were clamoring to bed by 4th Qtrs start. You will pay for that schedule wise next year you silly birds of prey ~as the victims were fallen birds(Eagles, Red Birds). You do have a point~the what to do with Seattle dilemma.

  • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

    There is much Unity on this squad….its more apparent today than in the 2005 team in that there is a basket full of born leaders influencing the great chemistry they have. The one very vocal guy we have on the team is no Jeremy Stevens. He is eloquent in his thoughts and energies. This team was built with aspirations of grouping 52 born leaders in like mind.
    Coach has the power to find great athletes and outstanding people.That power makes for A perfect storm.This was why Carroll came back(to the NFL). He met with a billionaire that had enough of losing in the Pacific NW…that was successful in life and wanted to extend it to his Football field…his home…his success starved “people” as fans of the Seattle Seahawks who have a very intelligent fan base~not just a bunch of Latte swilling idiots as I was told we were by a Pittsburg fan after the Super Bowl in an ESPN post I responded to last February.
    Alot of things have went right since Allen dispatched Mora 5 winters ago. We have a chance to see our team compete in the play offs 3x in as many seasons in 3 weeks assuming they lock up home field.Its what Paul’s vision was all about. Competing every year .

    This business of win forever is real to Pete. That 4 win season 5 years ago before positive Pete arrived seems so long ago. Big Games?Bring ’em on. Its complete bliss to the Latte swillers.

  • Post a sign in the CLink visitors locker room, “All ye who enter here, Abandon Hope.”

  • Will

    There’s much depth to what he’s saying … and it’s not something easily transferable to another coach, collection of players or another franchise. Because, if it was that simple, anyone with a camera could snap pics like Ansel Adams or anyone that’s memorized a song could sing like Pavarotti or Tony Bennett.

  • Big

    I was a skeptic at first. Coach Bubbles was so positive indeed joyful in his job. Positive during the lows and highs of a football season in the NFL. Observations at practices and games have shown a man who is no phony but consistently on message as well as in action. Coach Carroll is active in practice with his team and coaches while in games he is remarkable for his up beat composure. I admire his explanation on how he and the team prepare for games. Proper preparation of mind and body prevents poor performances.

  • Boondoggler

    “We don’t ever want to adjust our play to who we’re playing; what the match-up calls for, or the setting, or the hype. We go the other way — it doesn’t matter who or where we’re playing.
    Sounds a lot like a rather famous basketball coach that came out of the SoCal area.