Seahawks general manger John Schneider sat down with the local media for a wide-ranging interview Friday. We haven't heard from Schneider all season. There was a lot of ground to cover. Here is what he said:
What works well between you and Pete?“I think the biggest thing with our relationship is we both recognize that nobody has all the answers and we’re continually pushing the envelope every single day trying to get better. Regarding Pete, one of the biggest things with him is he’s a no ego guy. All he wants to do is win games and be successful. He just has a unique ability to bring out the best in people and he’s done that with me.”
Had you met him before you interviewed?“I had met him. I always give him crud that he gave me the college coaching handshake ‘did you get everything you need today? Ok.’ ...
What did you know of Pete’s reputation?The enthusiasm, confidence and work ethic that was evident because I had been to the school the year before they hired him and their talent level was not up to par for the university and you kind of left there just feeling kind of bad for the program at the time because they seemed like a lost program. Then the following spring I went back for the pro day and it was like a completely different place. The enthusiasm from all the coaches, just like what you guys see at practice, it was very evident.
With as much as the roster was tore apart surprised at success so quick:
“Tearing it apart is kind of harsh.”
“I think we believed we could do it, but this league it’s so hard to win one game. And I’m not very good at the game day predictions and my dad always asks me how do I feel and I always completely respected my opponent. Even when I was playing myself I was never like ‘oh we’re doing to destroy these guys.’ I think we just have a ton of respect for the league and how hard it is to get to where we are right now. More importantly where we’re at peace is that we know we’re trying to get better every single day beyond this game because we want this to be a consistent championship caliber team and not a team where the fans don’t feel like we’re cruise in, cruise out for one year. Where there is a solid base and we have to make tough decisions every year."
On other people in the media thinking that he would be Carroll's underling"Not that I remember reading that or anything. That's cool. USA Today said today I hired him, so. ... picture and said that I hired Pete Carroll, which is weird because I was working for the Packers. ... ''
On if he is surprised by how well the relationship has worked with Carroll:"No because that's what he wanted when he came into the National Football League. He was looking for what he felt was a strong partner because he had been other places where he felt like there was a wall, and you can't have those walls., You can't succeed for an extended period of time if you do. So I think, I don't think, I know he was looking for somebody he could work with so they did a great job in recruiting him and then getting him involved in the interviews so that he could just kind of sit and observe --- hey, I can work with this guy. Because you are not going to hire Pete Carroll and then go out and put him with somebody that he is already may have some animosity towards.''
On that he has to be open to that, too:"Absolutely ... that's what I'm saying --- low ego. When I came for the interviews, all that, whatever, that sort of angst or whatever he had was put aside.''
On how Percy Harvin's year has developed:"I feel bad for him, the way that this has gone. It's been , I'm sure it's been tough for him. I'm very happy for him now. I think this is incredibly exciting for Percy and his family and his teammates and the staff and our fans that he has an opportunity to play in the biggest game of the year. But I feel bad for him that this has gone the way it's gone. But the best thing about it is that it's a six-year contract and he's a young man.''
On if he's ever thought about how different things might be if the Seahawks had signed Peyton Manning:"Yeah. Often. I just think that we would have continued to do things the way we do it all the time. I know that we wouldn't have been able to afford several players but we would have competed in other areas to compensate for it in where we were deficient in our roster. It's a daily process.''
On when he will begin thinking about the tough decisions ahead when Thomas, Wilson, etc., contracts are due:"Um, probably last spring you know we are looking two to three years ahead so last year we knew we were going to have some things coming and how to handle certain players and to know just where we are headed. We put different models together. Matt Thomas does a phenomenal job with it. Figure out the best way to navigate it. They are really good problems to have.''
On how the process has worked with Thomas since he replaced Idzik:"Seamless. He's outstanding. He's had a great reputation in the league for a long time and unlike John, he's got a very low ego (laughs). At the combine last year they pulled me aside last year and put me on their web site and were like 'hey can we talk to you about John Idzik' and I was like 'who? Who are you talking about? You mean our former cap guy?' Because they were giving them crap about hiring a cap guy. And john was more of a football, had a little more football to him., But Matt has a strong history with Bill Parcells and Ron Wolff knew him very well. He did several different things for Mr. Hueizinga. And so when that position opened up, there were a ton of people calling on his behalf and we have known a lot of the same people and we were very cordial, but we had never hung out or anything or spent quality time together. But he came up and he's great. He's a total grinder and just he loves his job, loves the Seahawks and is excited to be here.''
On meshing that view with a guy leaving?"You mean different negotiation philosophies? Just so that that person knows they are representing the way we do things, the way we want to come across to players and their representatives and how we treat people to make sure we are not hiring somebody who feels like they have all the answers or that they are smarter than the next guy or the guy they are doing the contract with, that they are always representing the organization to the highest standard that they possibly can. And Matt does that, there's no question about it. John did too, but every negotiator you work with, everybody's got their own different way, just like our evaluators and our coaches, have little idiosyncracies.''
Do the hard decisions down the road presenting a new challenge for Pete and John’s working relationship?“I think we got to that period this last spring, that the harder decisions were coming. This last draft represented that. Those tough conversations, when we got to a point where we were getting a pretty strong core of guys together. When we got together, I had told him that our goal was to get this thing to the point where people wanted our players. The players wanted to be here, and other teams wanted our players. That’s when you know you’re getting to be a more talented football team. This last year, when we sat down to discuss how we were going to acquire players and what that meant for the future, that’s when we started having more difficult conversations because you’re affecting people’s lives. You may be effecting someone’s life and their family and someone that has been with you for a year or two or three. That’s never easy. But I know what you’re saying. It’s easier when you come in and you’re like, This is our philosophy and we’re going with it. We had a lot of transactions early on. It’s not that we didn’t respect those individuals, but we knew we were looking for a certain type of individual to fit our beliefs and core philosophies.”
Anything about how this season has developed that has surprised you?“No, not really. You could tell looking at our board of players that we had fast, confident, intelligent individuals. Guys who knew they were going to come in and compete for positions because the previous year we had a three person quarterback competition. You know you have a shot when you have a three person quarterback competition as a player.”
Working for Paul Allen:“It’s great. He’s extremely supportive. He asks phenomenal questions. He’s very passionate about the Seahawks. He wants to know what your plan is and what you think. He’s always engaged. He has the brain institute and he spent time over there, maybe last fall, not this previous fall. He was over there with a neurologist from Switzerland that he had spent the day with. He was real excited and then he came over and watched practice. He was sitting in my office going over the team and he told me what he did. I was like, So you spent the day with a famous neurologist from Switzerland now you’re over here talking with me? He’s like, Hey we all need a little yin and yang with our lives.”
How do you view this draft class:“I think this year’s draft was a little bit more toward 2014 than it was 2013. There were some things….(Answers phone: Hey babe I’ll call you right back, OK? I can’t hang up on my wife, I’m sorry. Not that I don’t run my own shop). “You never want to see guys getting hurt with Tharold and Jesse and Jordan’s never really been able to let it rip and Christine’s had a hard time because Robert has stepped up. I guess the way I view it is it’s more about looking toward next year with these guys, and I think they’d all tell you they were extremely excited about next year.”
You still have high thoughts for the 2013 draftees?"Yeah, absolutely. Like every draft, you look back and wish you would have done some things differently and you beat yourself up. But, as of right now, there’s not too much of that going on."
Does that help at all in FA when it looks like your team is going on a run?"Yeah. Absolutely. Also, we try to take advantage of every different avenue and we treat them as equally as we possibly can and we always are very honest with people about where we sit, how we view them and not to take that personally. We’d love to have them, but this is how we make our team work. I think that there’s a core of players here you know that was strong enough that those guys liked what they saw. Obviously, playing in front of these fans at that stadium both Cliff and Bennett being guys that can jump off the ball, I think that was a big attraction for those guys."
Is this what you envisioned for Bennett?"Yeah, move around. Different matchups. He’s a very, very talented guy and really cool matchup player. When Denver won those two championships in a row, they had several … the had eight guys they played in a rotation and they were always fresh. They had guys like Maa Tanuvasa, bunch of guys that were really cool matchup guys that they just rotate through and that’s kind of what we were shooting for there."
Will the success of team attract free agents?"Hopefully, they see the product on the field, the way the guys play and how much fun they have. And, also knowing that the organization … we do whatever we can to take care of our platys. We have a performance department with Sam Ramsden heads that up, so whether that’s sleep, nutrition, anything you have going on. We’re going to help players be the best they possibly can so they don’t have to rely on their agents to go to a different location to get those things taken care of. The way our equipment guys treat the players and the way Mac and his staff and the cafeteria treat guys, that goes a long way. I hope that word spreads throughout the league and to know they are going to be respected and to come have fun and work hard and that we’re all blessed to be in this business but we’re going to have a fun time doing and making good money."
Has what you learned about evaluating QBs changed since joining the Seahawks?"No, it really hasn’t. It’s just about opportunity and how you’re able to acquire those guys. Much like when Ted Thompson came from here to Green Bay he had a lot of angst because he knew he was going to have to be the guy who told Brett it was time to move on. I felt that with Matt when I got here, just because I was here when we acquired him the first time. So, I knew we were going to be going in a different direction at some point. That’s a position that’s most, in my opinion, it’s the most important position on the field, so we’re always evaluating that position in a very, very strong manner. So, I think since we got here, I think there’s lessons to be learned about how you acquire the player, but not on the skill set."
On the human side of roster moves"There’s a lot of really great things about this job and what we do and evaluating players. But, the very worst thing we do, the thing that just eats at you is releasing players and knowing again you’re affecting lives. And that goes for people in the building, too, because we go at a certain pace and they have to keep up with that pace because it’s our responsibility to the organization to keep this thing moving in the right direction. That’s the the thing I always kind of lean on. Are we doing what’s best for the Seattle Seahawks. Sometimes it’s very cold and it hurts. With Matt’s deal, my son was leaving and they were going to Minnesota for a while and I sat him down because he was going to be gone when the news with Matt was going to go down, told him what was going on and he hauled off and hit me in the gut as hard as he could, ran in his room, went under his blanket and his pillows, everything, just buried himself and cried and cried and cried."
Ever tell Matt?"No, I didn’t. But when you get to .. Ted Thompson when you go to 53 every single year, he gets physically sick. He gets the flu, he gets a really bad cold, it definitely ..."
Do you have a sense of validation for what you’ve done so far?“That was a very physical football team the other day, so I was just very, very proud of the way our guys overcame adversity, and a big-time game, so yeah, there’s a sense of satisfaction in that regard, but we have our sights set much higher because of what we want to do here for as long as we possibly can.”
Hard to enjoy success when having to always think ahead?"There’s times where I’m like, ‘you know what, just be in the moment, just have fun and let’s enjoy this right now.’ We did that in Mobile one night. But no, you definitely have to take that time and enjoy it, and I want everybody to be so excited about what’s going on, whether it’s you guys, the fans, everybody in the building. The people upstairs are giddy, it’s great, it’s cool to see. But yeah, I always know what’s coming. It’s like when Pelissero sat down with me last week and he’s like, ‘you know you’ve got Russell Wilson, Russell Okung, Earl Thomas,’ he starts ripping off all these names, and I’m like, ‘Dude, what are you doing man? We’re getting ready play a game, my chest hurts already. . . I didn’t know we had those guys coming up. Are you trying to stress me out, man?’ But you just always know there’s something coming.’”
Philosophy on extending guys before final year vs. waiting?"It depends on the individual. There’s certain guys that, A. you just can’t afford to extend that at that time, or B. you just want to see how they handle things. If you’re confident in an individual—we were able to re-do Kam last year, and you know Kam’s going to be out there just being a pro every single day, and had proved it for several years now. Then you get to a point where just from a cash standpoint, you have to adjust things accordingly. It’s tough, but you have to be able to say… there’s a cutoff because not everybody’s going to get what they want."