One need look no further than last night's destruction of the Chargers by the Raiders to see what it really looks like when a team no longer believes in their coach. The Seattle Seahawks are far from that team. Both Los Angeles and Las Vegas provide ample evidence of the impact of the right coach.
There has been a lot of talk this week that Pete Carroll has lost the locker room in Seattle. Now when a guy like K.J. Wright says it, I have to listen. Now to clarify things a bit, Wright never actually said the words, "Pete has lost the locker room".
You can listen to exactly what he had to say on his weekly podcast linked here. What Wright did say is damning enough, though. It's less a criticism of the Seahawks head coach than it is of the team itself. As quoted by Brandon Gustafson for Seattle Sports
"“This team right now, they’re just so distracted. It’s not even about the opponents anymore,” Wright said. “They’re fighting their own internal battles within the building. They’re fighting guys buying into what Coach Carroll is saying. What I’m hearing from Coach Carroll is that he’s sick and tired of these guys. He’s extremely frustrated,” Wright said. “He feels like that he’s preaching to him, he’s trying to be nice with them, but they’re just not receiving his message. So essentially, they don’t give a (darn) what he’s saying at this point."- K.J. Wright
The Seattle Seahawks may have a few players off message, but it isn't the entire team
You can listen to Wright's entire discussion on this episode of his weekly podcast. As Wright said earlier in the conversation, it's his opinion that a team needs four vocal players, and he isn't sure that the Seahawks have that right now. I have to agree with him.
Look at the team captains this year. You have Geno Smith and Tyler Lockett on offense, Bobby Wagner and Quandre Diggs on defense, and Nick Bellore and Jason Myers on special teams. All six are highly respected, absolutely. But are there four highly vocal players there?
Both Lockett and Wagner have always been models of leadership by example. Diggs is vocal and respected, but he's also having the worst season of his career. No offense to Jason Myers, but he is a kicker. And he's been inconsistent as well.
That leaves Geno and Nick. No one doubts Bellore's effort, ever, just as no one doubts Smith's. But does anyone believe they have as much sway as players like Richard Sherman or Kam Chancellor did on their teams? Does anyone think for a moment that if Doug Baldwin called a teammate out, they would just shrug it off? I agree with K.J. Wright. It isn't that Pete has lost the locker room. It's that the locker room has lost the fiery leadership any team needs to keep everyone on the same page for every play.
That brings me back to the Thursday night matchup between the Chargers and the Raiders. Both teams entered the contest at 5-8. With seven teams at least two games ahead of them for the final wild card spots, they were basically playing for pride and nothing else.
The Raiders were 3-5 this season until they finally fired Josh McDaniels (they were 6-11 under the wunderkind last year). Since then, they've found a decent quarterback - one whom McDaniels gave no chance to succeed - and have managed a 3-3 record under new head coach Antonio Pierce. Pierce's Raider blew the Chargers out, 63-21.
On the flip side, we have the laughably inept Brandon Staley. Staley is the idiot who chose to call timeout last season, enabling the Raiders (again) to beat the Chargers. Had he simply let the clock run out, which the Raiders appeared to be doing, the teams would have tied and both would have made the playoffs. Instead, the Raiders used the extra time to regroup. They picked up 10 yards to get into position for a field goal that put them in the postseason and the Chargers out. Is it any wonder he's lost that team?
The Seahawks have trouble, yes. There are almost certainly going to be some changes made; there have to be. This week, Pete Carroll elaborated on some of those changes without going into any specifics. When asked by Mike Salk on the Pete Carroll Show if his message was getting through to the players, Carroll had a very uncharacteristically brief answer: "Ask them." That sounds much more like a team that may be losing a few players, rather than a coach losing the team. Ask Earl Thomas how that argument will go.