BY Art Thiel 06:14PM 06/02/2017

Thiel: Ever the D-coach, Carroll gets defensive

In his first public interview since an ESPN story described fractures among the Seahawks, coach Pete Carroll said it was an old story and was proud of where his players are emotionally.

Richard Sherman (25) and Kam Chancellor chat during Seahawks practice Friday. / Art Thiel, Sportspress Northwest

Pete Carroll has always been a defensive coach. But in some rare moments of genuine dismay Friday, he was a coach that was defensive. Speaking for the first time since a recent, detailed ESPN.com story described fractures within the Seahawks, he called it “an old story revisited,” saying, “I’m proud of where we are and how we’ve handled our past.”

After the third day of organized team activities at the Seahawks’ shop in Renton, he met reporters for the first time since the story’s publication caused a national stir.

“I don’t even know where all the stuff came from,” said Carroll, who was interviewed for and quoted in the story. It focused primarily on how CB Richard Sherman’s tumultuous 2016 was in part caused by his inability to let go emotionally of the last-moment loss in Super Bowl XLIX to New England.

“I would say this — I’ve said to you guys before that the big wins are just as hard as the big losses if you let it be,” he said. “Our first Super Bowl (a win) was a challenge to get back from. Our second Super Bowl was a challenge to get back from. That’s just how it is. It’s that impacting.

“Most teams don’t make it back. The odds are, you don’t make it back to where you’ve been. So as we’ve been challenged with growing and understanding and moving ahead, that’s just as normal as it could be. I’m proud of where we are and how we’ve handled our past. That article makes reference to stuff that’s years old now. This time of year, if you guys want to keep talking about it, you can, but it’s not a big deal to us at all.”

Sherman cited the the Super Bowl loss as a reason for his Dec. 15 blowup during a win over the Rams. On the sidelines and after the game, Sherman criticized a play call similar to one that cost the Super Bowl, a Russell Wilson pass from the 1-yard line that was intercepted. The story claimed that was part of Sherman’s belief that Wilson had favored-son status that exempted him from the coaches’ public critiques.

Answering a question about favoritism toward Wilson, Carroll defended his methods at length.

“I show favoritism to every one of these guys,” he said. “Every one of them. I’m trying to figure each guy out and help him out as best as I can, I think we’re doing OK at doing that.

“Each person is different. They have to fit into the team, they’ve got to maintain the team expectations and standards, and I’ve got to make sure I hold them to all of that.  Individually, I treat those guys as well as I can, to what they need and how it fits them. We’ve raised Russell from a neophyte, and he has done an extraordinary job for us.

“He’s a great competitor and a great worker. I could say that about Doug (Baldwin) and Richard and Bobby (Wagner) and K.J. (Wright), but they’re all different and they’re all unique. They all deserve the individual attention that they get. If I wasn’t doing that, I’m not reaching to help them be the best they can be. I’m not going to treat everybody the same and overlook whatever is going with them individually. I’m not doing that.

“If you don’t think it’s working, then too bad. I think it’s working pretty darn well. It’s the best way we know how to do it. We’re demanding that these guys find their best. I’m demanding of myself that I find that in them, and help them get there and stay there as long as we can and continue to be successful.”

Carroll went on to suggest that some tension was inevitable among highly competitive people, and perhaps not well understood by media.

“In essence, I guess things are a lot different than maybe you guys think,” he said. “I don’t know that, but in here with us and the work that we’re doing, I think we’re in a marvelous position. That doesn’t mean everybody’s on the same page exactly right all the time. I’m not either.

“We’ve got to work at it. It’s a challenge. It’s about developing relationships and working with people and helping them to find their best. That’s what we’re working at right here. We’re not doing it right all the time, but we’re trying.”

Carroll said that — despite Sherman’s words and deeds — there was no emotional hangover from the Super Bowl defeat that carried into 2016.

  “Nothing. Nothing. It wasn’t even a question,” he said. “I don’t know if it ever even came up. But I will say this, and I’m putting myself in trouble by saying this, it’s never going away for me. The first one (the win over Denver) is never going away for me. It has affected me for the rest of my life, and the next one will affect me for the rest of my life.

“I’m OK with that. I’ve just got to keep going. I’ve got to manage my ways so I can keep moving forward. I don’t say that it affected me in a negative way, it’s just a big experience. It’s a lot you go through. It’s a lot that you deal with. You’ve got to put it in the right place so that the next step you take can be the best step that you’re taking. That’s what we’re working at doing.”

Clearly, Carroll’s response indicated the story struck a nerve. Also clear is that Sherman processed it differently than Carroll. And it was different than how Wilson handled it.

Wilson, who also was interviewed Friday, praised Sherman as a player and avoided direct answers to questions about the accuracy of the story, which he claimed to have read only partially. But in talking about how he dealt with the loss, and not referencing Sherman directly, he said:

“If you’re always looking in the rear view mirror, you’ll never get ahead.”

That is about as succinct a counterpoint as is possible regarding Sherman’s December words and deeds. But Sherman wasn’t traded, despite the Seahawks’ open courting of offers, and is in camp where, according to Carroll, he is diligent as always at practice, and mentoring younger players, also as he has always done.

The Seahawks may be ready to turn a corner on the saga. Then again, we have yet to hear from Sherman.

Kaepernick not being signed, for now

On other matters, Carroll said the Seahawks aren’t signing free agent Colin Kaepernick as a backup quarterback for now, but did not close the door if circumstances change.

“Colin’s been a fantastic football player, and he’s going to continue to be,” he said. “At this time, we didn’t do anything with it. But we know where he is and who he is. We had a chance to understand him much more so. He’s a starter in this league. And we have a starter.”

Asked if Kaepernick’s social activism was a factor in his lack of offers, Carroll added, “I don’t know that. Let’s wait and see. There’s some other guys still out too.

“I can’t imagine that someone won’t give him a chance to play.”

Asked how he felt with second-year QB Trevone Boykin as backup, Carroll said, “Well, I feel about like I did a year ago. We’re still trying to develop it and make sure we’re making the right decisions. We’ll continue to work at it. Trevone continues to need to be pushed.”

Wilson was supportive of Kaepernick, but stopped short of playing general manager.

“I haven’t had the chance to be around Colin too much, but the times I have, he’s been great,” Wilson said. “He’s obviously, a really, really good football player. I have tons of respect for him in that way.

“In terms of everything else he stood for too, I think that he was trying to stand for the right things. He was trying to stand for equality. And so I respect that too.”

Carroll attends Kennedy’s services

Carroll and other Seahawks personnel attended the funeral of Hall of Famer Cortez Kennedy in Osceola, AR. this week. The Seahawks’ eight-time Pro Bowl lineman died in his Orlando home the past week at 48.

“It was unbelievable the effect he had on so many people,” he said. “He was a monster on the field, but off the field he was so thoughtful, kind and caring.”

The Seahawks will honor Kennedy’s memory this season by wearing a helmet decal bearing his 96 jersey number.

Noteworthy

FS Earl Thomas was not a full go in the no-contact practices, but he was running around normally. Carroll said his return from a broken tibia is ahead of schedule. Carroll said Thomas should be ready for training camp in late July . . . WR Tyler Lockett, who broke his tibia and fibula Dec. 24, is not as far along. . . DE Frank Clark has missed the camp so far with a case of the mumps . . . The  offensive line appeared to be what Carroll suggested as the No. 1 unit, with the exception of free agent signee Luke Joeckel, likely the left guard who is not participating in drills as he recovers from ankle surgery. George Fant was at left tackle, Justin Britt at  center, Mark Glowinski at right guard and Germain Ifedi at right tackle.


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YourThoughts

  • Bruce McDermott

    So Fant at left tackle, Britt at center, Glowinski at right guard and Ifedi at right tackle. With Joeckel out. So who was at left guard? Pocic?

    • art thiel

      Rees Odhiambo, a rookie last year, was getting LG snaps. Apologies for the omission.

      So no thoughts on Carroll’s defensiveness?

      • John M

        Seems like Carroll said what he needed to say. Promoting the positives is also about quelling the negatives. The coaches seem pumped with all the new talent they have to work with and there’s hope for the O-line. I understand Fant has beefed to 320 and is very serious. I’m looking forward to seeing his progress.

        As for Richard, he is who he is. I think he’ll still be a gamer.

        • art thiel

          Fant looks more like a football player than a power forward. Some scouts have said they get why Carroll likes the guy’s upside.

  • Mark Stratton

    Carroll usually addresses issues in an oblique way, but his outright denial of any Super Bowl issues last year is just false. As you said, Sherman brought it up pretty directly in December. He’s trying to get past this as quickly as possible.

    I agree; can’t wait to hear from Sherman.

    • art thiel

      Yes, Carroll is trying in one presser to throw the cloak of invisibility over the story and other rumors of dysfunction. In fact, all good teams have similar tensions among successful alpha males. Carroll has managed it reasonably well, but some people (Harvin) are unmanageable even for him. But he and Sherman have a lot invested in one another, and Sherman has pushed things to the outer limits.

  • Jeff Shope

    It is old news But Art u are getting to lefist most of America NOT infected by California or NY is fed up with the likes of kathey griffin and colin krappernink.5 times more counties voted for trump than killary and dems have lost a thousand seats nationwide. That’s no accident. It was major reason why PI went bye bye even in socialist seattle run by the child molesting mayor hiding illegals

    • art thiel

      Thanks for the irrelevance to topic, Jeff.

  • Tian Biao

    this Sherman story really doesn’t want to go away, does it? Every time it starts to die down, something (often Sherman himself) fires it back up again. I can imagine Carroll is getting a bit tired of it all: that might explain the defensiveness. As for Art’s comment: we have yet to hear from Sherman. um, yeah: something tells me we’ll hear from Richard soon enough.

    • art thiel

      All coaches dislike distractions, but Carroll is among the few that accept the ineviability. And as Carroll said not long ago, the damage to Sherman has been self-inflicted.

      • Stephen Pitell

        glad to see an occasional misspelling on your part.

  • Jamo57

    I have to say that generally I agree with Superlative Pete. Since the 2nd Super Bowl, the Hawks have remained “in the mix”, perhaps not a real contender but they’ve remained in the hunt at least and advanced in the playoffs each year. And I think the run of years where they’ve won at least gotten to the playoffs and won one round is very rare.

    The re-tooling of the players around a small core is common to the franchises that have won multiple titles, not some sort of window built from a wunder-draft or two (didn’t that go out with free-agency and salary cap and 70s Steelers or 80s Niners?

    But my real take away from your column, Art, is this group of characters remain a really entertaining bunch. The personalities will be remembered for a long time and be appreciated years from now with the nostalgia that will invariably harken back to this era. The mid 90s Ms and Karl-era Sonics accomplished much less and we’ve put them on pedestals.

    Having been hear 40 years plus now, I’m in now hurry to go back to normal Seattle mediocrity.

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    • art thiel

      Well said, Jamo. The dramas that attend high achieving athletes and teams are inevitable, and to me, informative and entertaining. The Seahawks have managed this as well as any team, including the Pats. At least the Seahawks have not had a murderer in their midst.

      The Karl-era Sonics were a hoot to be around, as are the Carroll-era Seahawks.

  • Stephen Pitell

    I saw nothing to support your title regarding “Defensiveness.” But it’s not important. Sure he defended his team, but that’s not really the same as defensiveness.

    Personally, I loved his quotes as being in perfect alignment with his philosophy of football and life. Very Tao. Very Zen. Very Echert Tolle.

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