The Seattle Slew

Seattle Sports. Through thick and thin

Team Pete Carroll or Team John Schneider?

First things first, I may be taking a break from the blog for a little while. My wife and I are planning to go to Europe for our honeymoon this summer, and I don’t plan on being on the computer very much at all. I hope to update the blog after the draft though, and obviously before the season starts. Please bookmark my blog, and sign up for the newsletter to get my posts through email!

Now onto the program:

Let’s get this out of the way first, I am not trying to cause any divisiveness among fans, or turn this topic into a huge talking point. It’s understood by all, myself included, that the success of the Seahawks, and their atmospheric rise to prominence from ashes only a few years ago, was cultivated and developed by many individuals, not just one.

However, this is life, and in life, all good things eventually come to an end.

Hopefully we won’t see the end of these great Seahawks for a very, very long time. Having said that, I posed a question to a few friends of mine to discuss a debate that I don’t think has been talked about….at least very rarely.

In crediting the teams’ success, who do you attribute that more to; John Schneider or Pete Carroll?

It’s a relevant question because at some point, I feel the Seahawks organization may have to choose one or the other. Both guys are simply too talented and too desired by the rest of the country to let them sit here in the emerald cities’ laurels. Or, at some point one of these guys, most likely Carroll, will retire from the game, leaving us with one and not the other.

To my surprise, out of about 3 friends I asked, they all said they credit John Schneider more for the teams’ success than Pete Carroll.

One friend freely admitted he simply doesn’t like Carroll, due to his running away from problems in college and his lack of loyalty and “snakeness” in relation to players to used to play for him (to his credit, he knows what goes on behind the scenes of locker rooms than most people). However, he did agree that Pete is an awesome coach and a perfect fit for the team. He just thinks Schneider is more valuable.

I can see it both ways. Schneider was pretty much single-handedly responsible for drafting Russell Wilson. He had to convince Pete and the rest of the staff that Wilson was the real deal. I think that turned out very well. Wilson was a slam dunk from day one. But there are some other elements to the Wilson story that I’ll get into later…

What Comes First?

It’s a chicken and egg argument really, because its hard to judge, based on our limited information as fans, if we have just drafted great players, or if we developed average players into great ones. Plus, JS and PC work so well and are so close in every decision, that its almost like trying to judge which one is the better twin.

However, my primary argument for leaning towards Pete being the biggest factor in the Hawks success, is due to the development of players, and the fundamental nature of their play.

Here are just some individual examples:

Richard Sherman- The scouting report was spot on coming out of college. He was never a great corner at Stanford. He does have average speed. He’s not the most physical or strongest corner. He doesn’t have explosive burst.

Now Sherman has the best ball tracking ability in the game. He reads routes like receivers. He diagnoses quarterbacks. His length is disruptive. He is a madman on the left corner position and shuts down a whole half of the field. Sherman is about as well coached and fundamental as any player in the league, and that transformation occurred AFTER the Hawks drafted him. Which tells me Pete is a hell of a coach.

Marshawn Lynch- Lynch was a decent running back in Buffalo. He never put up huge numbers. He was known “Beast mode” back then, but he didn’t actually become Beast mode until he got to the Seahawks. Beast epitomizes what Carroll looks for in players. Tough, big, physical….all effort. I think Pete has always wanted Lynch while at USC, and I bet he was the first player he looked at when he came on the job and was deciding how to reinvent this team.

Schneider definitely deserves credit for making that trade happen, but I credit Pete for wanting him, and mostly Tom Cable for creating an offensive line that caters to Beast’s strengths.

Russell Wilson- One move that I think many people overlook, is his decision to promote Russell Wilson to the starting quarterback over highly paid Matt Flynn in the 2012 year. Matt Flynn, as you recall, was a highly paid QB brought in from Green Bay, and was the presumptive starter. Pete has the brass balls to name Wilson, a rookie at the time, the starter, flying in the face of logic and criticism from many around Seattle and the league. Needless to say, it turned out to be absolutely the right decision, and only a coach who has a convicted belief system, and a trust in his football acumen, could have pulled that off. So while  JS gets most of the credit for drafting Wilson, you have to give it to Pete for having the guts to start him right away.

Red Bryant, Brandon Mebane, Kam Chancellor: These are guys that I look to when I think about the effectiveness of Pete Carroll. These guys were here before the JS/PC era, so they are a good foundation to which to start a theory on. They were good before, but under Pete Carroll, they became awesome. Bryant moved from DT to DE in a 2 gap technique, which revolutionized his career, Mebane is one of the best DT’s in the league, and Chancellor is the new prototype for what a strong safety should be.

The Analysis

Schneider: Starting with the negative-while its pretty early to judge, Schneider’s class of 2013 hasn’t panned out so well. Throwing the Harvin/1st round pick out of the equation, the players drafted by JS have not contributed so far to the team. Say what you will…the ruling is still out, they play on a deep team, etc…but bottom line is that if you have good players on your team, they will find a way to contribute immediately. Luke Willson was a good pick, that’s why he saw the field immediately. If Christine Michael, Jordan Hill, Michael Bowie, Alvin Bailey and company were really that talented, they would’ve seen more playing time last year. At the very least on special teams. And let’s not forget our 3rd round pick, Chris Harper, who never made it past preseason.

I wouldn’t call them a bust class, but these guys need to start contributing next year, and in a major way.

On the flipside of course, everything else Schneider touches seems to be genius. From making the trade for Lynch, his drafting of Wilson, Thomas, Okung….while reaching deep for diamonds in the rough with Sherman, KJ Wright, Malcolm Smith, etc…he has been right a lot more than wrong. Again, there’s a chicken and egg argument here, but one thing you can’t deny is Schneider’s ability to find the right guys to fit the system.

Carroll: Pete’s troubles have been well documented, which is probably why some fans find it easier to criticize him instead of Schneider. He has had a problem on his team with substance abuse, which have led many haters to label him as a cheater. He’s had players question his tactics …and for a lot of people it remains to be seen whether his “ra-ra” attitude will hold up in the NFL, especially if the Seahawks starts losing some games. He’s also been known to whiff on players…LenDale White, Mike Williams, and Chris Harper are guys that he took a chance on that didn’t work out. I’ve also heard from some people that players who played under him (mostly at USC) view Pete as unloyal to his players. I think that’s more of just wanting to build the best team possible, rather than staying loyal to a player at the expense of making his football team better. Nonetheless, perhaps he’s not as fair as he should be.

On the other side though, Pete has pulled so many genius football moves over his years at Seattle, it’s been incredible to see his results.  Other than the Wilson move I mentioned earlier, he just seems to be able to squeeze every little bit of football talent out of his guys. One mark of a great coach, is to see how hard his players play for him. Win or lose, that’s a sign that the coach knows what he’s doing, and the players believe in him.

He’s brought the competitive spirit to his football teams. Guys who were highly touted coming out of college, or via free agency, start at the same playing field as the unknown, undrafted guys. This system has bred a culture of fierce competitiveness, and an attitude that not many football teams can match. Pete’s teams play harder than the other team most of the time, and the results speak for themselves.

And then there’s the defense. Oh man that defense. Once in a while, you will get a team or strategy that changes the way the game is played. We saw it recently with the incorporation of the read-option plays in the NFL. Well, with the Pete Carroll led Seahawks, they brought the sexy defense back, and in a big way. Taller, bigger corners are more coveted now, as Sherman has laid the blueprint of a prototypical corner. GM’s want big safeties who can hit like Kam Chancellor, and they want the speed from the free safety position that can cover like Earl Thomas.

Schneider drafted a lot of these guys, but Pete has made the system work.

My analogy is this….Schneider bought all the best ingredients from the supermarket, but Pete, I feel, made the food awesome.

So while I wouldn’t strongly debate it either way, I feel that Pete is the man mostly responsible for the Seahawks success, and I just hope we continue to do as the man says. Win Forever.

What do you think?

Categories: NFL and Seahawks

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1 reply

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