Seahawks Insider Blog

Carroll: 'We want to be the best fundamental football team playing at the end of the year'

Here's what Pete Carroll had to say today:

(Opening...) “Isn’t football rolling? So many unbelievable games have happened here. In the bowl games and in the playoffs, people have got to just be loving it; the fans and all. It’s amazing what’s happened. That game last night was an incredible ball game and for just everybody to have fun watching it and more to come here with the playoffs. Anyways, we’re fired up about getting going here. We’ve waited and we’re ready for this week to start. Practice begins this afternoon, with a game plan in order and our guys are pumped up and ready to go. So it’s an exciting opportunity of course, playing at home with the Saints coming in. Saints look great against Philly, in all phases. So we know that they’re out there ready. So it’s going to be a big match up and we’re looking forward to it.”

(On if this is almost like a divisional match up...) “No. I don’t think it’s quite like that, but you could look at it. We do know, but we don’t watch them all the way throughout the whole schedule like you’d see your division opponents keep coming up. But there’s a familiarity on both sides and great respect from our end of it and we look forward to it. We know that they’re a great football team, they’re a championship club, championship coaches and players and all of that and we give that a lot of respect.”

(On Drew Brees...) “Yeah he’s an incredible football player. Just historic numbers and accomplishments and there’s nothing that the guy can’t do. So that’s as hard as it gets. He’s completing almost 69 percent of his passes, that’s a crazy number after the end of the season. So we hold him in the highest regard.”

(On how much of a difference it has been for the Seahawks to emphasize on the pass rush...) “I think it’s been a significant difference. The pass defense numbers show that and everybody has helped out. All of the guys that have come in have helped and they’ve helped the other guys play better. So it’s interesting to see how it does tie together. We’ve been playing pretty much the same coverage principles but when the rush picked, our numbers went down in terms of our opponent’s production. So it’s been a big factor.”

(On who will defend on Jimmy Graham since KJ Wright is injured...) “Well you’ll have to wait and see.”

(On how he approaches picking K.J. Wright’s replacement to defend Jimmy Graham...) “Well we’re going to wait and show you that on game day honestly. How we do it is hopefully really well, but we’re challenged. K.J. [Wright] had a great football game and we’ll miss him and Malcolm [Smith] has done a nice job stepping in his spot. But, that’s just part of figuring it out. So hopefully there will be a couple of surprises left by game day.”

(On the challenge of not under estimating a team after beating the same team the first time...) “This is one of those answers that goes along with how you prepare every week. The last game didn’t matter and who you played and how they played and all that doesn’t matter and this certainly applies to somebody that we’ve played before in the season. We know… it was like the first thing I had addressed in our team meeting when we came back together was, ‘What has happened in the past doesn’t tell the story of what’s going to happen in the future one way or the other.’ So you have to have the discipline to do that. If you’re not disciplined about that and understand that and appreciate that, so you go back to work and start all over again, then you could fall prey to that and think that, ‘Okay something is going to be easier than otherwise’ or it could be so hard that we couldn’t be able to handle it. They could look at it the other way and ‘How can we beat those guys so handily a defeat?’ But they’re not doing that and we’re not doing that and hopefully we’re really good at being focused on what’s up right now this week in this preparation.”

(On if Percy Harvin will practice today and will he play against the Saints on Saturday...) “He’s practicing today.”

(On if Russell Wilson's performance in the post season last year that made people believe that he has the potential in becoming an outstanding quarterback...) “Yeah I think that certainly helps. The playoffs have so much focus and so much attention played on him that the guys can make a reputation for themselves in just the playoffs alone and I think that added to Russell’s [Wilson] season. He had great numbers in the post season and to us, he seems to rise up and always capture the moment. So hopefully he can do that again here in this playoff run.”

(On the Saints emphasizing the run game...) “They have run the ball more. Yeah after the Rams’ game, you can see that they’ve had over 30 carries and those games since then and I think prior to that, they had only one game where they had over 30 carries. So that shows you something. What it means I don’t know, but it does show you something different.”

(On if Percy Harvin plays, will he return kicks...) “We’ll have to wait and see. We don’t know that yet. If he’s playing in my mind, he’s playing. So we’ll do everything that we want to do with him and that he wants to do as well. But we don’t know how that’s going to turn out right now and I reserve the right to change that.”

(On Luke Willson's injury status...) “Luke [Willson] is going to practice today. Yeah that’s a good sign for us.”

(On if there are any players who will not practice...) “Just K.J. [Wright] is the only guy not going. KJ [Wright] is going to run Thursday, if you can believe that. He’s going to come back and run for us on Thursday and see what that means. That does not indicate that he can play this weekend. He’s not playing this weekend, but incredible recovery under way there. Hopefully we can follow through with it this week, if we have that chance.”

(On how often he sees an opponent change their emphasis of game play...) “Well the teams get to do whatever they want to do or whatever they need to do. Some teams vary all the time in their approach to match their opponent and all of that. These guys have historically, extraordinarily productive passing team. So they're still throwing the football a lot and there still throwing it effectively. That’s not the case. It’s just the fact that their run numbers have just shown that they kind of 30 mark at threshold, it’s just a statement. Maybe. I don’t know. We’ll find out, but usually teams pretty much stay within their character, particularly at this time. If they’ve been successful to get to here, they basically stay the same.”

(On why he believes Red Bryant and Brandon Mebane stayed with the Seahawks...) “Well they got paid a lot. When it came time, pretty easy decision I thought. But first, the guys have kind of been the foundation blocks of the defense here and have been here throughout and they’re rewarded for their work and Red [Bryant] has come a long way and has done an incredible job with his career and we’re thrilled about it and [Brandon] Mebane… they have been so consistent. They’ve stuck it out because we agreed that this was a good place for them and they played really well and all of that and we’re fortunate to have them and they’ll be integral again this weekend doing the thing that they do, play up front and be so physical and all that.”

(On Chris Clemons...) “Clemons played well. He’s been very active and all that. He hasn’t had as many sacks. We’ve gotten those sacks though. So maybe they’ve gone the other way. He’s been a factor in a lot of pass rush opportunities. He’s playing good football. So I don’t call it anything in particular.”

(On how big of a deal home field advantage is for the Seahawks...) “Well you’re right. The teams that have went on the road and won some games this weekend and that’s just the facts. That’s the truth of it and it doesn’t guarantee anything, but it certainly is more fun to play here for us than to go on the road. We have a tremendous connection with our fans and the 12th Man and CenturyLink and all of that. Again, it doesn’t mean you’re going to win; it just gives you the best advantage that you can gain. Not just this year will that be the focus, that’s always the focus in this program is to get that division, get yourself right here and control your opportunity to play here. So we’re going to find out. Does it help? Is it going to help and we’ll find out when we go play and hopefully it will.”

(On the biggest difference between the Seahawks now and the Seahawks last year in the post season...) “I think there’s a lot of differences. I think that the natural progression for the quarterback in his second year getting to go through it all. Defensively, we have gained, as we have talked about earlier, in our pass rush becoming more effective. We’ve been really good; we’re top in the NFL, top team in the NFL in the turnover ratio, which is something that we have always set our sights we’re better there. We’ve got a lot of interceptions this year and a lot of turn arounds that have been in our favor. So I think that’s really the main focus, if I had to nail it. Russell’s [Wilson] growth, the pass rush, and then the football; taking care of the football better and taking it away better.”

(On if the time to rebuild this time took as long as he had imagined it...) “Absolutely. No really I would always answer that question; it’s always taking too long. That we wanted to do things the first year in better fashion, played more competitively right off the bat and so then we try to win for it the next year it. We were pushing it the whole time and it seems like it took a long time. Now that it’s here, ‘Okay it’s great’ and all that and we’re playing pretty good ball, but no. I didn’t really have a time table other than saying that we’re going to try and win every game right now and unfortunately, we didn’t do that.”

(On the importance of building a relationship with John Schneider...) “I think it’s absolutely the most crucial relationship and aspect of our program and all of the decisions that we make, we make together and the fact that we communicate so well and we trust one another so much, it’s helped us throughout. We’ve done a lot of stuff and we haven’t just been quietly going through with it, we’ve been very active and we’ll always be that way. So that means that we’ve been challenged maybe more than other people because we’ve had so many transactions that we’ve gone through and trades and big draft moments and stuff like that. I don’t know if I said this clearly in the past, but I thought that this relationship would be the one that could be the issue that pushes us over the top if we did it right. So we set out with the expectations that we would communicate impeccably and we would enhance each other’s strengths impeccably and see how that would factor in where we’re going. So I would start right there that that’s the most important aspect of what’s going on and I’m functioning as well as I can because of John [Schneider] and I hope that he is too. I really think it’s one of the crucial elements of NFL football is that relationship right there and all of our guys who interview for jobs and get the opportunities to talk about it, they’ve been hammered about that thought. Wherever you go, to have that chance to facilitate this enormous amount of variables, it takes great communication and you have to work in concert and all that I think. I think. That doesn’t mean that we’re right, that’s just what we think. You’ll see Gus [Bradley] work really hard there to make sure that they’re really on the same page t every chance they get so you can make the most of it.”

(On the key to developing a relationship with the GM…) “I think there’s there is a whole gamut of things that we’re talking about here. We have to make decisions and we have to make decisions as one, and so the information coming in, the process of gathering information has to be situated so it gives us what we need. I think the desire to serve with one voice is huge, and not everybody thinks that way. I think we need to get the best out of us and compete the best we can. We have to be together so all of that makes that up, that’s crucial. I think that it starts with the willingness and the understanding that it needs to be that kind of relationship so you make it happen. I think it’s like making a good marriage, it’s not any different. You have to work and bend and understand and learn and grow and all of that and be resilient and everything. We have to do all of those things too.”

(On the importance of being on the same page philosophically with the GM…) “I think that if you know what you’re philosophy is then you have a chance. Then you have to share it with the guy around you, then you have to blend what we have to blend. I’ve been pretty adamant about what we think and how we do things so I brought John Schneider along in that regard football wise. Then I allowed him to bring me along with what they’re doing personnel wise. I trusted what he was bringing and he trusted I was bringing so we just blended our thoughts. I think that’s crucial that you know where you want to go and how you want to get there. That gives you the start, now you have a place to build from. So I really think the base of philosophy is really where it all begins.”

(On what makes the number 1 seed vulnerable to a team that’s the number 6 seed in the NFC…) “Dealing with the fact that you’re the number one seed I guess. Yeah I would think dealing with the week off, dealing with the fact that everybody is patting you on the back and just the element of being off for a week. If you don’t gain from that week all of those would be factors. I like history like that because you get to knock them down you know.”

(On the emphasis of fundamentals on defense…) “We’ve increased our emphasis and those things that happened then throughout. We’ve been reinforced that we’re doing it on the right track so we continued to pound it home. We want to be the best fundamental football team playing at the end of the year. So we’re trying to continue to do that and those kinds of focuses that have adjusted at that time are still in play now.”

(On Walter Thurmond's performance against St. Louis…) “He did fine. He had limited opportunities, but after a month off, and other guys were playing so well that we didn’t have to force the issue right there. He continues to compete for his spot right now.”

(On the significance of performing well on defense on the first drive of a game…) “I don’t think it’s how you start you know, it’s how you finish, but it’s nice to start well. I don’t know why that is how it is, I’m aware of that stat, but it’s way better than the alternative. Probably depends on how other people look at it, it doesn’t matter to us really. How you start doesn’t have anything to do with the end of it to me.”

(On Bobby Wagner's performance…) “Bobby has really continued to get better the second half of the season. As our run game play has been better, he’s really improved along with it, and he’s very consistent right now. He’s tackling really well and really accountable.”

(On how Rob Ryan's defense is different from Rob Ryan's defenses for other teams…) “Well he’s using this personnel beautifully, they’re playing great defense right now. They’re number two in pass defense and overall they’re four. Points are down at four, they’re fourth in the league in all that kind of stuff. They’re doing really well. He’s always done a lot of stuff and he continues to vary which makes it difficult. Coming out of the Belichick program you know. Bill is a big guy in terms of varying week to week and defending the opponent, specifically not in just playing his defense. Rob has followed that to some extent. He’s always been noted for being very aggressive. They pressure a third of the time in all situations, so they’re coming after you. I’m sure that won’t change against us. We all grow and I think he’s at the best he’s ever been. This is the best group that he’s probably thrown out there, statistically.”

(On if he sees opponents not knowing what Percy Harvin is capable of as an asset…) “Somewhat. We’re just going to mix him in. He’s just going to play as the other guys play. I don’t know what you think is going to happen, but we’re hoping that if he gets to that point where he can play, we utilize him as it fits. He has been a very dynamic football player. He’s been able to create stuff that’s unique and that has given him his reputation that is legit. Returns particularly, he’s as good as you can get as a kickoff returner. We’ll see. We’ll see what the factor is. He had one kickoff return where they kicked to him and the next one I think they blooped it or something so that’s a factor, so we’ll see if that factors in like that.”

(On if Percy Harvin will be limited to play against the Saints…) “He’s got to get through this practice today. This will be the first in season week day of practice that he’s had in a long time. Last week he did fine. It goes back to we were in a day to day mode a while back, then we went to kind of week to week and then we had our phases or whatever all that stuff was. Now we’ll get through today and see what happens you know. This might be the ultimate phases, we’ll find out.”

(On why the offense has not performed well in the recent weeks…) “Well I kept going back to them and kept giving credit to the people that played. I thought they played really well and we played really tough defenses you know. We weren’t able to stay at the same level of production that we had maybe prior to that, but you’ll see. Hopefully we can play like we want to, which is to play a really good balanced attack and do the things we like to do in the running game, and play off of that. We’re feeling pretty good about it, we’re feeling like we know where we are and all of that, but there was a stretch in there where we weren’t quite as productive, you’re right.”

(On traits he wanted to avoid when developing a relationship with John Schneider…) “Yes.”

(On what those traits were…) “The relationship that I thought was really awesome was what I learned about John McVay and Bill Walsh. John McVay’s role was an extraordinary role that he played at the Niners and that was something that has always been in my mind. If you could gain that kind of communication, that kind of respect back in forth, that it might be special. So that’s one on the positive side of it, but I think you’re looking for the other side.”

(On the 12th Man raising money for Marshawn Lynch’s fine…) “As long as the money goes to the right place, and I’msure he would choose that. It’s just another statement about the 12th Man and all of that. It’s pretty exciting that the money could go somewhere that could do a lot of good.”

(On the most important thing he learned from Bill Walsh…) “There’s a big answer there. He knew exactly what he wanted and who he was and what it was supposed to look like, so he just worked on sculpting that. I think that demonstrated so clearly of the power of that. You can see where you’re going; you know what you want and what it’s going to be when you get there and so now you can pass that along to the people around you that have to create it with you. I think that is what stands out singularly the most.”

(On Rob Ryan sending pressure against them the first time the team played and not sending pressure a lot last week and how do you marry the two…) “That’s a good example of Rob’s approach. One week it could be with a lot of pressure, and they three-man rushed probably more than we would’ve thought against that team. We don’t know, we have to wait and see. We have to be ready to adapt during the course of the game. We have a real clear idea of what we want to do now from what we see, but we will have to adjust. That’s why they do that. Bill Belichick is the guy that I respect the most coaching in that style. He could be a 3-4 guy one week and a 4-3 guy the next week and totally change from two deep to man to man stuff, match people up, and the next week not do it at all. They’re inclined to follow that kind of formula a little bit more so, and that’s a really good illustration of it so we have to be ready to adapt. Hopefully you don’t get stymied while you’re in the process of adapting. Watch New England’s score over the first quarter of games and teams don’t score very much against them historically because they’re trying to figure out what just happened and what they’re up against. That’s been a cool aspect of the way that they operate, that’s the way I’ve looked at it.”

(On the Seahawks defense not doing a lot, but doing what they do really well…) “It depends on the personnel that you have and how much you can stick to that. That’s what you always hope to do. I think everybody in coaching would like to just get in your base defense and dig in and do it really well. We’ve been able to grow more towards that as our corner play has been such a factor and the back end has been such a factor with Earl Thomas back there. It’s allowed us to really zero in on what we’re doing upfront, and we’ve gotten better with a really young bunch of guys. We still feel like we’re a young bunch of guys with the linebackers being young and all of that. It’s helped them be more consistent. The factor that Red Bryant plays, the factor that the Leo position plays in our scheme with Bruce playing outside, it gives us a lot of elements that are still problematic. Kam Chancellor is such a stud on the tight end side and all of that, and those gives us elements where we can kind of hang in there and make them try to knock us out. We vary more than that when we need to, but when we don’t have to we don’t.”