On Tuesday, Pete Carroll held a nearly 50 minute end of the season press conference, which I found pretty interesting and fairly telling of the direction of the team. He discussed the obvious- QB situation, team strengths and weaknesses, etc; but also shed light onto free agency, the Green Bay draft model, and the 49ers. It’s absolutely worth a watch, if not for your own enlightenment, then to discuss with us! Here’s what I took away from it:
The (always popular) QB Topic + the Offensive Philosophy
Pete had good things to say about Tarvaris, expectedly. And why not? The guy is straight up tough. He was and is the best option for the team. Carroll praised him for his ability to rebound from injury, survive the first half of the season behind a new and young line, and touched on his potential as a long term option.
When I listen to a coach, I try to take away the subtle hints he gives, and the nuances of how he says what he does. I finished the conference with the impression that, as we fans have been saying, Tarvaris Jackson is not the answer long-term (23:40 is telling, among others). He’ll be around to compete, and he’ll play if he’s the best available option (as was the case this year), but I don’t think Carroll wants to bank the team’s future on him.
Now that doesn’t necessarily mean he wants Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees to lead an aerial assault on opposing secondaries (though, I doubt he’d complain). Quite contrary; Carroll repeatedly stressed offensive balance and putting as little responsibility on the QB as possible (both of which he’s previously emphasized, and I’m sure you already know). What was telling, to me at least, was Pete’s bit about young QB’s being able to transition smoothly from college to the NFL; how, because they’ve taken so many snaps from middle school through college, this repetition has allowed guys like Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan to play successful rookie seasons and, thus far, have successful careers.
Looking at the draft, I think he’ll absolutely get a QB. Hell, maybe two, since Whitehurst has no reason to be re-signed. Admittedly, I want Robert Griffin III to be a Seahawk next April. It’s not happening without a trade-up, but that trade doesn’t have to be a blockbuster (we’ll cover this as the offseason progresses). For what it’s worth, Griffin is EXACTLY- I mean, fits to a t- what Carroll wants in a QB: mobile, accurate, explosive, smart, and limits turnovers.
Enough of that, but it’s a nice segue into another topic…
The Green Bay Draft Model and Insight into the Hawks Draft Plans
If you haven’t already, check out davishsu’s articles over at Field Gulls about the GB model. In the presser, Carroll mentioned, albeit briefly, John Schneider’s implementation of this strategy and expectation of its success. He said John expected to take 3-4 years to build a solid foundation for a competitive team (and I’m sure most fans agreed). Carroll and Schneider inherited a mess of a roster, devoid of talent, leadership, and direction, reeling in the bottom of (at the time) the worst division in football. Carroll thinks, and I agree, that in only two years time, the foundation for this team has already been set and the young talent is ready for a surge into consistent playoff contention with another (and probably one more) good draft. Though this team is far from being a tyrannical dynasty, Green Bay’s and now Schneider and Carroll’s philosophy to keep players “in-house” and competitive will keep the Hawks in consideration for the playoffs every year. As Carroll repeated: continuity is key to building a team.
Carroll also (heavily) stressed the importance of finding a pass rush- both from the inside and outside positions. As a fan, it was obvious through the season that the only real pressure came from Chris Clemons on passing downs. Branch, Mebane, and Bryant are run stoppers, not consistent pass rushers, and their inability to force any type of pressure hurt the defense. I am absolutely astounded at the play from the secondary sans pass rush; I fully expected Browner and Sherman to implode the defense once Thurmond and Trufant went down. So props to them, but imagine how much better they could be with some D-line pressure. Carroll knows this, and talked about it in his conference, and it’s something I’m sure they’ll address in the draft.
Pete Carroll also mentioned the need for more playmakers on offense, noting specifically his desire to add a RB or WR, or both. He’s impressed with the progression of Golden Tate, looking forward to Sidney Rice’s return, and wants to keep Marshawn Lynch, but again (as he’s done his entire tenure in Seattle) advocated the necessity for offensive playmakers. Honestly, the draft is looking like if the right QB isn’t there in round 1, and they can’t viably trade up to get one (ROBERT GRIFFIN!), it will be BPA all the way (which, of course, could include a QB outside of round 1).
Extra Little Bits
Carroll said he’s excited about the depth on the offensive line. Everyone should be, as the backups filled in admirably when the starters went down. Though improvements could be made, it was refreshing to see a patchwork line hold its own. Pete Carroll joked about it, but seriously- cut Tom Cable’s phone lines and cancel his cell service; he worked wonders for the O-line, and I’d hate to lose him.
The reporters tried to slip in questions about retaining our own free agents. Carroll basically said Lynch is replaceable (though I’m quite certain he’ll be retained) and that Red Bryant was only a situational player (which is true, but again, I think he’ll be kept at a reasonable price). Both players have expressed interest in staying, and the front office has expressed interest in retaining their own, so not much to gain from these statements, I just found them interesting.
Pete Carroll had a lot of praise for the 49ers, in fact it was a little nauseating to hear. He praised the way they play ball, noted we went toe to toe with one of the best in the league, and mentioned that their style- a bit old school, he said- is close to what he wants to implement here: run the ball, limit the QB responsibilities, avoid turnovers, and play great defense.
Earl Thomas got high praise for what he’s done all year, and deservedly so, but Carroll mentioned he wants more speed on defense, specifically the linebacking corps.
Well, that’s what I got from it. I’m looking forward to the offseason and speculating and debating.