Pete Carroll not only accepts his players pushing the line of appropriate emotion and “frenetic mentality.”
His entire Seahawks system wants and encourages it.
That became evident again on Monday, when the coach talked more about top wide receiver and team leader Doug Baldwin shoving offensive line coach Tom Cable on the sidelines the previous day. The latest Seahawks extra-curricular came during a heated exchange while the offense was struggling early in Sunday’s win at the New York Giants.
As the Seahawks were fuming and flubbing about, trailing the 1-6 Giants 7-0 in the second quarter, Baldwin shoved Cable on the sideline in front of the team’s bench. Baldwin appeared to be yelling at someone else, in the direction of Wilson, Carroll and the offensive linemen standing a few feet away.
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Carroll said in New Jersey after Sunday’s game “I had told Tom to go ahead and get in the middle of the offense” to talk to it. But Baldwin wanted Wilson to talk. The longest-tenured player on Seattle’s offense said at that moment he wanted players, not a coach, to get on players.
“I lost my cool,” Baldwin said, after his nine catches, 92 yards and go-ahead touchdown led Sunday’s victory. “It’s 100 percent my fault.”
Maybe not quite 100 percent.
“It’s my fault,” Carroll said Monday after the team’s middle-of-the-night return home.
“I mean, I’m the one who orchestrates that. But I’m OK about it, because I think we can manage it – I don’t think we can, we HAVE managed it. But at times, you know, we have to reel somebody back in. And our guys understand that...
“This is an emotional team. We’ve seen that over the years. I think I probably stoke that as much as anybody,” Carroll said.
“I’m the one at fault, sometimes putting us at wit’s end,” he said. “But we’ve got to learn to operate like that, because that’s just the way you have to go.
“It’s something that’s fun for us push for. And it’s something that we are trying to get there, trying to see how far we can take it--and still function at an extremely high level.”
That is Leadership 202 –yes, an advanced level. The best leaders take responsibility for all, even when subordinates are truly at fault. And the 66-year-old Carroll’s record of national championships at USC and Super Bowls with Seattle show he’s far beyond entry-level leadership quality.
Yet it’s more than just that. Indeed, this is what Carroll has created: an all-competition, all-the-time culture. He champions his players being outspoken, challenged--and, yes, challenging. To authority. To convention. To everything and everybody. Even their own coaches.
These leaders, these players, the franchise and the entire Pacific Northwest will absolutely take the results: Five consecutive playoff appearances, two Super Bowls, Seattle’s only NFL championship--and a 4-2 record at the top of the NFC West again this season, with three of the next four games at home beginning Sunday night against Houston (3-3).
If there’s collateral damage in that culture of players crossing that line--Baldwin Sunday, Richard Sherman in December berating offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and Carroll on the sideline during a win over the Los Angeles Rams--so be it.
“These guys know how I am about it. I expect them to operate at a HIGH pitch level of emotion, and expect them to be able to function like that,” Carroll said. “Numerous times--numerous times--over the time that we’ve been together, we talk about sometimes there’s that line, you know. You can cross it, and be poised and not cross it. And sometimes somebody does lose it, the next one has to take care of it right there. That’s rule number one of our program, right there: Protect the team.
“If you are going to ask your guys to go that far, sometimes they are going to cross, so we have to understand that...We try to help our guys grow and become comfortable at almost a frenzied pace, at times, and a frenetic mentality.”
Carroll mentioned Monday morning on his weekly day-after radio show on Seattle’s KIRO AM “Doug didn’t do that right,” and that the look of a player shoving a coach was bad for kids to see.
But, no, don’t expect fines or discipline of Baldwin. Or anyone. They’ll talk on how to do that better the next time--then await that next time that, on this team, will undoubtedly arrive.
“It’s behind us,” the coach said of the Seahawks’ latest drama and product of this environment.
“It’s not a big deal, at all.”