We can start with the guys that have been out there: Jadeveon Clowney, Quandre Diggs, Jacob Hollister — impact players who weren’t in a Seattle Seahawks uniform before training camp began.
We can also talk about the guys who have been out: Justin Britt, Will Dissly, Jarran Reed — impact players who missed significant time or are done for the season.
And when you consider the departures of Pro Bowlers such as Earl Thomas and Doug Baldwin, and when you observe the warp-speed improvement of the defense, and when you see a record that defies logic and spits on expectations — you gotta look at the men who built and coach this team and say …
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider appear to be co-painting another masterpiece. Whether it’s adding talent, replacing talent or squeezing every last drop of the talent they have, the duo has helped revive Super Bowl expectations in Seattle.
Yes, quarterback Russell Wilson is playing the best football of his career. And yes, a couple wayward field-goal attempts have lightened the load in the loss column. But as Wilson finds himself in the thick of the MVP conversation amid Seattle’s 9-2 start, are Carroll and Schneider not prime candidates for the top coach and executive honors?
First, a look at the acquisitions. In August, Schneider made a Porsche-for-peanuts deal with the Texans in which he dealt Barkevious Mingo and Jacob Martin — two guys who wouldn’t be recognized in a Bellevue QFC — for Clowney, a three-time Pro Bowl defensive end. When Will Dissly — the fourth-round draft pick who had 262 receiving yards through his first six games — went down with an Achilles’ tendon injury in mid-October, Schneider snagged Hollister, who had eight catches vs. San Francisco and the game-winning touchdown reception vs. Tampa Bay.
Diggs had a 44-yard interception return vs. the 49ers in his first game as a Seahawk. Josh Gordon had two critical first-down receptions in his Seahawks debut that same night. All of these guys have been money, and they came at virtually no cost.
It isn’t easy building a team after making your quarterback the NFL’s highest-paid player. Last season, none of the six highest-paid QBs in the league made the playoffs. But when you’re getting top-flight production from receivers such as Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf — the first of whom is the 31st highest-paid player at his position and the second of whom is a rookie — you’re going to succeed. And when Rashaad Penny, your first-round pick of a running back, breaks out for 129 yards on 14 carries like he did Sunday, you’re going to excel.
Still, no matter how gifted a coach’s players might be, he still has to figure out how to mold them into a cohesive unit. And Carroll, as he repeatedly does, has accomplished just that.
He rebuilt a secondary that lost Thomas, Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor in a two-season span. He has watched his pass rush flourish over the past two games, as the once-shoddy defense resembled that of the NFL’s elite.
Sure, there have been some clock-management issues and a head-scratching obsession with challenging pass-interference calls, but the poise to be undefeated on the road and in games decided by four points or fewer? That has to, at least in part, come from the incessant gum-chewer in a headset.
After that win over San Francisco two Mondays ago, actor Matthew McConaughey tweeted that if “you give Pete Carroll a glass of water, he turns it into a lake and goes skiing on it.” Good line. But I’d say that Schneider has given him a lake that he can navigate no matter how choppy the waters get.
Whether it’s Britt, the starting center, losing his season to an ACL tear, or Reed, the top defensive lineman from last year, serving a six-game suspension, the Seahawks haven’t wavered. They’ve been among the league’s biggest surprises this year and seem assured to log their seventh 10-win season in the past eight years.
There are lot of guys in uniform who deserve credit for that, but the same is true of guys not wearing helmets. This might not be Carroll and Schneider’s best team, but it’s among their finest work.