By John Boyle
The Seahawks returned to the practice field Wednesday to kick off their final week of practice this season. First, however, players and coaches met with the media at the team hotel.
And wouldn’t you know it, the first question to Pete Carroll was about his running back, Marshawn Lynch, who has become a big story this week for ducking out of media obligations early.
Asked if he thought Lynch was setting a bad precedent for other players Carroll said, no, noting “Not everybody is the same. In our program we understand that, to a point that we made the statement that we celebrate the individuality and the uniqueness of our guys. I think that we would like to comply and do everything that we can to the best of our abilities, but we are who we are. The other side of this is I don’t know how we could give you anymore of some of our guys. You know Richard Sherman should get a little bit of credit here for covering for everybody here. On this football team, and all teams, there are people that are more available than others, because they’re comfortable with that, and they feel good about that. So, I think that’s what we’re talking about right here. We would love to help you out as much as possible and we’ll do everything we can to do that.”
Carroll was then asked if he’s worried about the reputation of his team given past suspensions as well as Richard Sherman’s postgame rant after the NFC championship game: “No, I’m really not concerned with that. I think anybody has an opportunity to say what they want to say about what’s happened in the past. I think we’re a young team that’s learning how to work with the guidelines and all of that. I think if you look back on the individuals that were involved in the PEDs and all of that kind of stuff, there’s a spread of guys from years ago and the numbers kind of add up. But I’m not concerned about where it’s going; I’m not concerned about the message. We would like to do right and get better, so we’re trying to improve and learn from everything that comes along.”
Later Carroll was asked if he has had any contact with suspended cornerback Brandon Browner recently, and also how he has tried to address suspensions with the team: “Let me say that first, no, I have not talked to Brandon. Hopefully he’s following along closely, and I’m sure his teammates are staying very close to him. We have set in motion, from a ways back, the education that needs to be expressed about the issues about substances and the rules that the league governs, that we follow. We’ve had team meetings, we’ve had speakers, we’ve had seminars, we’ve had one-on-ones, we’ve done everything that we think we can do, but honestly, not until this offseason did I think that our young team really joined together. I guess it was last spring, matter of fact, it was an issue with Bruce Irvin that came up, and when that came to light, and the way Bruce addressed it and handled it with us and our football team, it set us in a new mode, in a new mentality. I found that we were a very young team, with young minds, and guys that needed to formulate the plan, how it all fits together, and the best way we could do that is to gather the power that they represent us – everybody represents the Seahawks. In that process of talking through that, and working through that with the coaches and the players, we really came together with a really simple thought, that we’re ‘Seahawks Twenty Four-Seven.’ We realized – let me go back – we realized that we had a tremendous commitment to what we were doing on the field, and that we needed to embrace that we needed that commitment to extend off the field as well, in all areas. Like any team comes together on different issues, this was an issue, and I think Bruce was a great starter to the new mentality that we’ve developed, about taking care of business, about always representing, about having a conscious that never leaves us, whether we’re on the field, off the field, in-season, or out of season. It really set in motion ‘Seahawks Twenty Four-Seven’ and leave no doubt that we’re all together. Even with that, when we’ve had anybody who has strayed, or had an issue, or whatever, it came to the point where we really felt compassion for the guys that couldn’t hang with us in the commitment that we made. So, I think it’s become very strong from inside-out, from inside right in the middle of the locker room on out, and I think that we’re on a really good path. I think it’s a good illustration of what it takes to get everybody committed and everybody on the same page, and I think the commitment to our football and the commitment to the Seahawks is pretty clear right now.”
Percy Harvin will play Sunday, something he’s done very little of this season, and Carroll is obviously looking forward to that: “Well, he’s a terrific football player, with the dynamics of the tremendous speed that he has, the intensity that he brings when the ball’s in his hands – how he carries it, he runs like a running back – he’s unusually aggressive and he’s such a versatile athlete, that you have a lot of opportunities to do different things with him. So, it causes a defense to have to be on guard for him running with the football, him catching and running, and also the tremendous speed he has to get downfield deep. So, he’s rare in that aspect that he has all of those dimensions going for him. We knew it from recruiting him, we knew it from playing against him, we knew it from watching him and then we were thrilled to have the chance to put him on our team. We haven’t had the opportunity to demonstrate how that’s going to all work out and fit with our club yet, to any extent, but this will be an opportunity, in this game, to get him involved. We said the whole time, there was never a thought to build a football team around one guy; we’ve never said that and never thought that way. We just want to add him to the mix and see how that contributes to the rest of the guys, and I think he should be able to contribute in a good way.”
On why Peyton Manning is so hard to sack: “It’s really about his timing. He’s so quick with the football and his decision making is so precise, that the ball’s just not in his hands long enough to get there, for the most part. We can’t give into that. We have to rush the passer, we have to try to get him off the spot, we have to try to move him, and to get that done, we’re going to have to cover them very well. We’re going to have to get him to hold the football some and at least make him go to his second or third decision. If we can do that, it gives us a chance. Nobody’s done it very successfully. Obviously, as you said, in the postseason nobody’s even got close to him. Hopefully, we can. It’s all but impossible based on the numbers and what it looks like, (but) we’re going to see if we can do something about that.”
On the Seahawks’ lack of Super Bowl experience: “There’s a big emphasis about the Super Bowl experience and all of that, like you’re bringing up, and I just don’t think it’s – we’ll find out, you’re going to find out – but I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. I think it’s handling the process, handling the distractions, handling the newness of this game and this matchup, that you would think that the unfamiliarity, the newness, might make it a problem, (but) I don’t think it’s going to be a problem. I think we’re going to go play football the way we play, and we’ll find out. So, it’s not a big issue. Obviously, I can’t worry about it because we don’t have that experience, so I’m not going to try to reach for something that we don’t have. But, hopefully we’ll demonstrate that we can handle this game, and we can handle the matchups, and the lights, and the cameras, and all of that kind of stuff, and play good football.”
On getting back to practice, he said, “This is a normal week for us now. It’s officially a ‘Competition Wednesday’ for us, which means we’re battling in practice today. Today is really about getting back to our football and getting right. That means that we want speed and tempo, the technique, all of the fundamental stuff that we emphasize on this day, is at-hand – no different than any other week that we’ve played. We did it last week and we get to do it again in this preparation. We kick into a normal mode, is what we do, and that calls for a lot. It’s a huge day to us. We have objectives and we’ll be keeping score all day long today –somebody’s going to win and somebody’s going to lose. The whole thing is (scored), which we always do, and that’s what kicks our week into motion. I’m hoping that we’ll have a very upbeat, very high-energy day at practice today.”
When asked about the team’s 2012 pursuit of Peyton Manning, Carroll joked, “Well, it was brief,” then continued: “As we have ventured into every opportunity, John (Schneider) and I have looked at what is available and what could we possibly get out of the players that are out there. In this free agency opportunity, here’s Peyton Manning. So we started the process, to make an effort, to see if there would be some kind of connection here for us. Word got out and really he called me first; he knew that we were interested. He gave me a call (and) woke me up one morning. (I) jumped out of bed and (said), ‘OK, let’s go. What’s up Peyton?’ So we started talking. We talked about the basics of what it might mean for him coming to us, so the process was underway. It was very early, he had said that he didn’t know what he was going to do, he didn’t know where he was going to visit, he didn’t know what was going to come up, but he wanted to at least hear where we stood and what our interest was. That was the beginning of a very short process that got him to where he scheduled his visits that he was going to make – as we figured it out along the way – and we worked with his agent to understand that. We tried to get involved with that to see if there was a next stage of the process, and there wasn’t. It was very brief. It was fun for a while, with the magnitude of the player, and the background, and all of that. We were excited about it, to see what would happen, (but) we hadn’t set our sights on this (being something that was) going to change the program at that point. We were just going to follow through on it. We did that and it was over.”
And since there has been a whole bunch of Marshawn Lynch talk lately, we’ll end with Carroll’s take when asked about Lynch and who he is beyond the little bit he shows in public.
“He’s an extraordinary team member,” Carroll said. “Our guys love him. He’s a great leader, by the way he plays and by his actions. He’s not a guy – and this won’t surprise you – he’s not a guy that speaks a lot. He doesn’t take center stage and try to tell everybody what’s going on or what we should be doing, he does it with his actions. Everybody knows that, (and) expects that. We feel like we’ve come to a great understanding of who he is and we love who he is. He’s an incredible part of our football team and I wish everybody realized what a dedicated team member he is. I said yesterday, his conditioning, his work ethic, his commitment to this opportunity of these years playing for the Seahawks in the heart of his career, he has demonstrated exactly what we would hope he would demonstrate in terms of what he gives to us. But, we don’t get any more interview time than you get with him (laughs). He doesn’t talk any more to us than he talks to you, really. He is a live wire though at times, because he has a great energy about him, for the most part, it isn’t with his words, it’s with his actions, and we respect the heck out of that. I wish that everybody would respect that.”