The season’s over and I am starting to feel a little better everyday.
Remember in the Peanuts cartoon when Lucy used to talk Charlie Brown into kicking the football only to remove it at the last minute leaving an embarrassed Chuck laying on his back contemplating the reasons why he keeps making the same mistake over and over..
After the Bears game, I felt like Charlie Brown.
Disappointment is a strange emotion. Too much can force a fan to abandon a team, and not enough can turn fans into obnoxious elitists (see any Cowboys or Patriots fan).
The Seahawks have been a disappointing franchise for well over half of their existence. That’s why they have been moved from the NFC to the AFC and then back to the NFC. Fans are used to getting kicked in the teeth by players, owners, and the league. Nothing really seems to surprise us as far as disappointment goes.
At the beginning of this season, the only thing that would surprise me was success.
I know and remember the success of Mike Holmgren. That’s the one guy that was an exception, especially in retrospect. But everyone else…?
Enter Pete Carroll. I was skeptical at first. Although Pete dominated college football, he didn’t exactly ride out on a white horse into the sunset. It felt more like he was escorted off the premises in the night right before the hammer fell. Whatever happened, happened, and as far as I am concerned, I don’t care about anything he did as a coach prior to being with this organization. Let the past be just that. He came in as if nothing happened and never let it become an issue. That was the first thing I liked about him.
The Carroll Schneider combo was not afraid to take this team down from the top. Although it cost the Hawks in cap penalties, the release of TJ Houshmandzadeh sent a strong message to everyone else on that team, and I for one loved it. He cleaned house, and made sure everyone was on notice. That was the second thing I liked about him.
Carroll went for it on 4th down early in the season on more than one occasion and didn’t get it. This drove me crazy. “You’re not at USC anymore! This doesn’t work in the NFL.” But in retrospect it makes a little more sense. Pete’s thing is “Buy in.” So how could he expect his players to do that if he didn’t? Perhaps he was sending them the message that he is willing to put the game in their hands as a coach. He believed in them more than they believed in themselves. Provided this isn’t a regular occurrence and was more of a first year coach trying to get the most out of a forgotten team, it was the third thing I liked about him.
Pete Carroll and Matt Hasselbeck were the only two people on the entire planet that believed the Hawks were going to beat the Saints. Before you even say it, I thought they had a chance. I always do, but I would not have dropped a Benjamin on the Hawks without any points. This was the biggest upset in Seahawks history, and Pete Carroll was the reason this team believed they could win. His relentless optimism is the biggest reason the Hawks won that game. That’s’ the fourth thing I liked about him.
The day after the Hawks loss to the Bears, Carroll fired his OC, Jeremy Bates who came with Pete from USC. I imagine that these two are pretty good friends, and that his firing was a hard decision, however, Carroll did it anyway with no hesitation. This demonstrates Pete’s belief in his own mantra of “Earn Everything.” Bates didn’t earn the right to stay. And although it may have been a tough decision, it was the right one. Pete is willing to do what is best for this team regardless of his friendships with coaches and/or former players. I love that he cut Lendale White for being a tool and rewarded Mike Williams for the opposite. Looking back on this season, Pete really seems to Walk the Talk, and that is the fifth and final thing I liked about him this season.
Although this season ended tragically in Chicago, there is plenty to look forward to provided the NFL does not lock out. Pete Carroll had a better year than most thought he would. He took his team to within one game of the NFC Championship. A team that made nearly 300 roster moves in less than a year. A team that was virtually non-existent at the beginning of the season.
Well done Pete Carroll. You made it through your first season and the fans are looking forward to the following one because of raised expectations rather than the visiting team schedule.