Pete Carroll had a lot to say at his press conference after the first day of Seahawks training camp. We’ll start with his comments on the safeties.
Finally, the Seahawks have opened training camp! At last, we can talk about something other than the latest ridiculous rumors, which former players are bad-mouthing the organization, and where you can go for great pizza. Enjoy your Pizza Hut at CenturyLinks Field this season, by the way.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk football. Pete Carroll had a lot to talk about after the first day of practice. It should come as no surprise that one of the first questions was about Earl Thomas. Carroll’s remarks about him were brief, but led into a great series of questions about the outlook for the Seahawks at safety. On the absence of his All Pro from camp, Carroll said:
"Well you know he’s been here for a long time, you know. We always expect him to be here. That’s kind of how it is; he should be here, he’s not. So it’s really about the guys that are here, and we’re gonna keep movin’, movin’ and groovin’ and putting it together. It’s unfortunate."
Clearly, Carroll isn’t happy about the situation. But better than anyone, he knows it’s a business. Just as when Kam Chancellor held out, you coach who you have and move on. Once the subject swung to the safeties, the questions kept coming. Rightly so, because for now it looks like the Seahawks will be moving from two perennial Pro Bowlers in Thomas and Chancellor to – well, who knows? When asked about the safeties in general, Carroll said:
"We’re gonna do some rotating to see those guys, the competition is on. First time we got a chance to see Mo Alexander. I was really excited to see what [he] did in years past. This was his first time on the field. We’ll ramp him up within the next five, six days. He’s ready to go. I’m excited to see how he fits in as well. It’s a great competition. T2 [Tedric Thompson], he looks sweet, he looked great throughout all of the time that we’ve had him. He’s got a great feel for what’s going on, he’s a great [student], he had a fantastic offseason, and he looked great out here to get us going. So he’s right in the middle of it all."
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The Seahawks have a serious job, but they have a lot of tools to fix it
It certainly sounds like Pete doesn’t hold Maurice Alexander‘s years with the Los Angeles Rams against him, right? And he had a ton of praise for Tedric Thompson as well. When asked if he saw Alexander at strong or free safety, Carroll had a quick answer. What’s intriguing is where he took the question.
This is one of the reasons why Pete Carroll is so great in press conferences. Unlike so many coaches, he doesn’t just give pat answers. Yes, he can talk coachspeak with the best of them, but he so often digs down and gives you insights you didn’t even know you needed.
"He’s played both. I got no problem with – we’ll see how it fits. You know, Bradley’s done such a good job for us, and he has the flexibility as well. We have tremendous flexibility, so that’s not an issue. We’re just gonna find the two best guys to play for us, and figure out how to fit them in. For years, for years, we’ve been coaching safeties based on their personal makeup and attributes. And we’ve had so much experience that we’ve had different things that we can do with different guys. And this is a real fascinating challenge to me, to see how we tweak it and fix it so we can get these guys in the best position so we can get the most out of them. Delano Hill’s gonna be a fantastic competitor in this one as well, so we’ll see how it goes."
We know Bradley can do the job, because he already has. What I love about this – other than Carroll throwing Delano Hill into the mix – is the idea of flexibility. It’s true, the Seahawks can get so caught up in the idea of flexibility they can overlook just making one, best decision. Justin Britt didn’t make the move to center until his third season with Seattle. Don’t tell me about Max Unger, either. He only played six games in Britt’s rookie season, and was gone the next year. Flexibility is great, as long as it’s tempered by quickly putting the best people at their best positions and letting them grow. And that certainly sounds like what Pete Carroll sees for the Seahawks safeties.
There’s no doubt that the team will be better when – and I believe it’s when, not if – Earl Thomas returns. Kam Chancellor looked just as adamant in 2015 as Thomas does in 2018. As Keith Myers wrote two years ago, “It is one thing to miss practices and face potential fines. It is another thing to miss games and miss out on contracted salary.” That holds just as true for Thomas today as it did for his teammate then. In the meantime, it will be fascinating to see how the Seahawks assemble the back of the defense.