A Breakdown of Pete Carroll’s Philosophy

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A few months ago I wrote an article detailing the decline of the Seattle Seahawks.

I, among many others, was dead wrong.

That being said, much of what I laid out in that last article was true. The Seahawks drafting has not been as strong in recent history as it was at the beginning of this regime’s tenure. There have been major misses in free agency and in trades. Coaching decisions and hires have not been perfect (they employed Tom Cable for about six years too long). However, one thing I did not take into account was the power and resolve of a strong philosophy. Whether it’s in sports, business or a family, a core set of values and a healthy culture is the foundation for anything successful. It gives everyone involved a sense of purpose, direction and something to fall back on in times of turbulence.

And that’s exactly where Seattle found themselves going into Week 3 at 0-2.

Before delving further into the season, I am going to break down some of what Carroll’s philosophy entails, a majority of it coming from his 2010 New York Times Bestseller book “Win Forever”. A personal favourite of mine that gives a lot of transferable advice to multiple facets of one’s life.

Pete Carroll Philosphy

Belief System

From the time Carroll was hired, he established the “Win Forever” matrix into the fabric of the Seahawks, from the staff he surrounded himself with to the players they drafted. The core (bottom of the pyramid) has stayed intact throughout Carroll’s tenure. “Do things better than they have ever been done before.” 

Of the three rules, rules one & two have come under siege multiple times throughout Carroll’s career in Seattle, most notably since Super Bowl 49 when the Seahawks notoriously threw the ball on the one-yard line, resulting in an interception and a heartbreaking loss. Since then, players have been very outspoken, this has resulted in Rule One, being broken.

“Always protect the team”.

After the devastating Super Bowl loss to the New England Patriots in 2015, many players have spoken out against Carroll, the coaching staff and the team. Most notably, Richard Sherman in 2016 when he openly criticized the offensive coaching staff for calling a pass on the one-yard line in a Week 15 win over the Los Angeles Rams. More recently, it was reported that star defensive end Michael Bennett would read books during coaching meetings. Bennett was traded to the Philidelphia Eagles this past off-season.

To Pete Caroll’s credit, he never once made excuses for the devastating Super Bowl loss to the Patriots, at the foundation of his philosophy Carroll has stayed true to his core. He protected the team and didn’t throw then offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell or Russell Wilson under the bus. He didn’t make any excuses, complain or whine at the result.

“There’s really nobody to blame but me.”

Central Theme

This is what Pete Carroll is known for, every training camp, practice, pre-season game etc. It’s all about competition. It’s how former CFL All-Star cornerback Brandon Browner became a starting corner in 2011, how fifth round-pick and former college wide-receiver Richard Sherman became an All-Pro cornerback, how a third-round quarterback, many touted to be “too short” managed to find himself as a Week 1 starter in his rookie season in 2012.

Competition.

It doesn’t matter what round a player is drafted in or how much he’s being paid, how hard they compete and what’s best for the team determines how much of a contributor they will be for the Seahawks.

“However successful you may be, there is always some element you can improve on, some achievement to exceed.”

What’s great about this portion of the hierarchy is that it’s the most relatable and applicable to everyday life. No matter what you’re competing at, whether it be sports, filmmaking, writing, working out, school or work is that by having the mindset of doing things better than they’ve ever been done before, you can maximize your potential. Carroll also mentions in his book that he does not see his opponents as the “enemy” but as people who offer him the opportunity to succeed. This is a massive perspective change compared to what we regularly perceive as our competition.

Environment

Pete Carroll cites his final year in New England when asked to evaluate a pair of youth football practices as a moment of enlightenment for him in regards to practice. He witnessed a team in the Bronx practicing but it was unlike what he had seen before, the energy was different, there was more if it and it started with the coaches. From that moment, Carroll promised any team under his watch would practice with more energy than anyone in football.

“But Winning Forever is not about the final score; it’s about competing and starving to be the best. If you are in this pursuit then you’re already winning.”

I'm in

How Carroll runs his practices has had a direct impact on the culture of this team. Music blares at practice, drills are run at high paces and things are generally kept “loose” as per NFL standards. There are different themes for each day of the week leading up to the game. There’s Tell the Truth Monday, Competition Tuesday, Turnover Wednesday, No Repeat Thursday and Review Friday. For the sake of the length of this article, each day focuses on a key component within Pete’s philosophy, that’s what gives structure to his entire program.

Pete Carroll acknowledges that he’s been known as a “player’s coach” which he notes is a label that carries negative connotations such as being “too nice”. However, Carroll puts this to rest with a brilliant quote that all leaders in any position can take a page from.

“If you really care about helping people maximize their potential, then you must try to uncover who they are and what they are all about.”

Performance

Pete Carroll near the end of his book looks at how any person can apply the Win Forever philosophy to their own lives. In short, Carroll believes that by setting up a vision for yourself, staying disciplined and true to your strengths and keeping in touch with said vision, you can maximize the best version of yourself.

“When you truly know yourself, you have the best chance of using your strengths to your best advantage. And when things aren’t going so well, it is so much easier to get back on track when you have a plan for where you want to go.”

This quote is the reason why the Seahawks “rebuild” has taken all of 12 weeks as opposed to the two years or more many thought it would take. From the ground up, Pete Carroll has not only developed a philosophy he believes in, but he was able to get everyone else to buy in. The entire Seahawks program revolves around competition and maximizing potential.

Seattle may not have a hall of fame secondary as they had in 2013 or a running back of the calibre of Beastmode (Marshawn Lynch). Pete Carroll simply gets the most out of his players and this wouldn’t be possible without his philosophy. The fact that the Seahawks have an identity is what is keeping them in the playoff race. Something they sorely lacked in the first two weeks of the season.

Win Forever

Beyond football, it is this book and the joy of watching Carroll coach every Sunday as to why he’s such a big inspiration to me. I would encourage anyone of any profession or walk of life to check out this book or other online resources on Carroll’s philosophy.

It is because of leaders like Pete Carroll as to why I wholeheartedly believe that sports mean so much more than wins, losses and championships. Philosophies like Pete’s and others out there from esteemed players and coaches across many leagues transcends the sport itself. The ability to inspire everyday people like you and me can make a far deeper impact than a Seahawks victory (but you’ll still find me screaming at my TV every Sunday).  I leave you with a poem found in Pete Carroll’s book and I hope you find as much value in Pete Carroll’s teachings as I have.

Always Compete

Always Compete…

As you progress through your sporting life…

Always Compete.

If you want to go for it…

Always Compete.

You’re gonna have to make choices in life and those choices need to be conscious decisions. There’s only one person in control here, and that person is you…

You hold all the cards. You are the master of you. It’s time to admit it…

You have always known this. So if you’re ready, act on it…

Always Compete.

Don’t you dare try to be too cool, don’t you dare be afraid of life,

Just “dare to be great,” and let it rip.

Always be humble, always be kind, always be respectful…

Always Compete.

Everything you do counts and screams who you are. There is no hiding from you.

Act as if the whole world will know who you are…

Always Compete.

Be true to yourself and let nothing hold you back.

Compete to be the greatest you, and that will always be enough and that will be a lifetime!

Always Compete.

Any thoughts on this post, Pete’s philosophy, the Seahawks or just want to chat? Find me on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook!

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All Fingers Point to Pete Carroll & John Schneider for Seahawks Decline

The term “Seahawks Rebuild” has been tossed around since the Seahawks failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 2011 last season. However, after a crushing loss to the upstart Chicago Bears and a 0-2 start, the Seahawks are back under the spotlight of the national media for all the wrong reasons. Though it’s important to note that starting linebackers Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright was out along with #1 wideout Doug Baldwin, starting right guard D.J. Fluker. This does not excuse the awful performance on offence that Seattle fans were subject to Monday night. And what led the Seahawks to the point of a severe lack of depth falls squarely on the shoulders of General Manager John Schneider and Head Coach Pete Carroll.

Drafts

Allow me to preface the coming criticism by stating the two aforementioned gentlemen are responsible for the most successful decade in the history of Seahawks football. Playoffs in 6/8 seasons together (10′, 12′, 13′, 14′, 15′, 16′), four division titles (10′, 13′, 14′, 16′), five straight seasons with a winning record (12′-17′) and finally back-to-back Super Bowl appearances (13′-14′) and a victory in one (13′).

However, much of this success is due to the very successful drafts the Seahawks had from 2010-2012. Since then, the Seahawks have had mediocre drafts at best whiffing on a number of high draft picks. No players remain from the 2013 draft class, one player remains from the 2014 class (center, Justin Britt), two from the 2015 class (Frank Clark and Tyler Lockett).

Dismal 2016 Draft

The Seahawks then kicked-off a string of disappointing drafts by selecting right tackle Germain Ifedi who has been nothing short of a failure in his time protecting Russell Wilson. He also had the prestigious honour of leading the NFL in penalties in 2017. Hindsight is 20/20 but linebacker Myles Jack was still on the board at the time but we’ll get to missed opportunities later. Second-round defensive tackle Jarran Reed has been a solid contributor over the last two seasons, however, after that, contributions from this class are pretty bleak. Running back C.J. Prosise hasn’t been able to stay healthy, Nick Vannett hasn’t been able to assert himself has a number one tight-end and the emergence of rookie Will Dissly may make that even harder. Alex Collins was never given much of a shot to take over at running back and since being cut, he has broken out as a number one back in Baltimore.

2017 Draft Look Promising

Aside from the unfortunate short career of 2nd-round pick Malik McDowell, the 2017 draft has an optimistic outlook to it. Guard Ethan Pocic, corner Shaquill Griffin, defensive tackle Nazir Jones and running back Chris Carson all appear to be contributors for the seasons to come, the jury is still out on safety Tedric Thompson and Mike Tyson (no not THAT Mike Tyson).

It’s still too early to evaluate the 2018 class but there are plenty of players to be excited about mainly, Aussie punter Michael Dickson. However, the stretch of poor drafts between 2013-2016 has put this team in the spot it finds itself today. Carroll and Schneider’s failure to replenish the cupboard after stellar drafts from 2010-2012 has left this team thin in many areas. Not to mention the poor free agency decisions that have taken place over the years.

Free Agency/Trade Blunders

Harvin over Tate

Whether it’s been Schneider and Carroll failing to resign developed talent or making bad trades, both have set the Seahawks back in a number of areas. This dates back to 2014; right after the Seahawks had won the Super Bowl. Free agency opened up and the Seahawks allowed Golden Tate to walk, they figured they were set at the receiver position as it was with Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse and Percy Harvin. This is where it gets interesting, the story is Tate and Harvin got into a confrontation the night before the Super Bowl that leads to Harvin giving Tate a black eye. The following pre-season, Baldwin and Harvin reportedly got into it. By mid-season 2014, Harvin was traded to the Jets for a mid-round pick.

Jimmy Graham Trade

Next, is the Jimmy Graham Trade. After a stunning Super Bowl loss at the hands of the New England Patriots, the Seahawks shook things up by acquiring Pro-Bowl tight-end Jimmy Graham and a fourth-round pick. In exchange, the Seahawks gave up starting center Max Unger and a first-round pick. While Graham would go on to set franchise records, his talents were never fully utilized in the offence leading to Graham leaving this past free-agency to the Green Bay Packers. Meanwhile, it’s been no secret the Seahawks offensive-line woes that have consumed the narrative of the Seahawks for seasons now, trading Max Unger plays directly into that.

Bruce Irvin & Sheldon Richardson

When the team needs pass-rushing help now more than ever with the departures of Michael Bennett and the retirement of Cliff Avril. This makes the decision to let Bruce Irvin walk at the end of the 2015 season appears baffling now. Irvin accumulated 15 sacks in his two seasons with Oakland and already has one in 2018.

Sheldon Richardson, on the other hand, was acquired last season after the Seahawks desperately needed interior pass-rushing after 2nd-round pick Malik McDowell’s career came to an end before it even started in an ATV accident. In exchange, the Seahawks gave up a 2018 2nd-round pick and Seahawks hero Jermaine Kearse. This was not a bad trade by any means, however, allowing Richardson to walk this past off-season for just $8 million is a questionable move considering where the Seahawks are at with depth on their defensive line. Not much more needs to be said on this move, PFF has a graphic that speaks a thousand words.

All Said and Done

Pete Carroll and John Schneider deserve all the credit in the world for making the Seahawks the juggernaut they were in the mid-2010’s. They appeared to be lapping the league in draft knowledge and personnel moves. But the NFL is a copycat league and it appears on the surface, that Carroll and Schneider have now allowed the rest of the NFL to catch up. And to make things worse, poor drafting and salary cap moves have left the Seahawks a shell of themselves for Russell Wilson to carry. What fans saw Monday night is a direct result of personnel decisions dating back four years ago. Practice roster players starting in key positions is not ideal in any circumstance. Time will tell if the Seahawks can turn things around or if they will fall prey as every other team has (minus the Patriots) to the salary cap era.

That being said the Seahawks are still going to the playoffs in 2018.

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Complete NFL Predictions for 2018

The NFL is as unpredictable as any sports league out there. And I’m probably wasting my time doing this but in the off chance I’m anywhere in the ballpark I want to have it in writing so I can tell you all what a GENIUS I am in February.

AFC

AFC East

Patriots: 12-4 (z)

Jets: 7-9

Dolphins: 6-10

Bills: 4-12

AFC South

Jaguars: 11-5 (y)

Texans: 10-6 (x)

Titans: 7-9

Colts: 6-10

AFC North

Steelers: 11-5 (y)

Ravens: 9-7 (x)

Browns: 5-11

Bengals: 5-11

AFC West

Chargers: 10-6 (y)

Broncos: 7-9

Chiefs: 6-10

Raiders: 4-12

NFC

NFC East

Eagles: 12-4 (y)

Giants: 9-7

Cowboys: 8-8

Redskins: 4-12

NFC South

Saints: 11-5 (y)

Falcons: 10-6

Panthers: 9-7

Buccaneers: 3-13

NFC North

Vikings: 12-4 (z)

Packers: 10-6 (x)

Lions: 7-9

Bears: 7-9

NFC West

Rams: 11-5 (y)

Seahawks: 10-6 (x)

49ers: 7-9

Cardinals 6-10

Playoffs Seeding

AFC:

  1. Patriots 2. Steelers 3. Jaguars 4.Chargers 5. Texans 6. Ravens

NFC:

  1. Vikings 2. Eagles 3. Saints 4. Rams 5. Packers 6. Seahawks

Playoffs

Wild-Card Round

Jaguars over Ravens

Chargers over Texans

Seahawks over Saints

Packers over Rams

Divisional Round

Jaguars over Steelers

Chargers over Patriots

Vikings over Seahawks

Packers over Eagles

NFC/AFC Championship

Chargers over Jaguars

Vikings over Packers

Super Bowl

Vikings over Chargers

NFL Awards

MVP: Russell Wilson (Seahawks)

Offensive Player of the Year: Alvin Kamara (Saints)

Defensive Player of the Year: Aaron Donald (Rams)

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Saquon Barkley (Giants)

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Derwin James (Chargers)

Coach of the Year: Mike Zimmer (Vikings)

Comeback Player of the Year: Deshaun Watson (Texans)

This article would be about a 30 min read if I had to give an explanation for every team’s record and playoff win. I will say this though, many fans, pundits and “experts” have the Seahawks missing the playoffs and finishing with 6-8 wins. Let me make myself very clear:

THE SEAHAWKS ARE NOT FINISHING WITH LESS THAN 10 WINS THIS SEASON.

(Provided Wilson stays healthy) I can’t stress this enough. The Seahawks scraped to nine wins last season without a running game, an offensive line that ranked dead last and a kicker that cost them three wins. Those issues, on paper, appear to be rectified. Tom Cable was fired, Chris Carson is healthy, Rashaad Penny was drafted and the Seahawks acquired Sebastian Janikowski.

Many people are pointing to the loss of Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and others on the defense as a reason why the Seahawks will fall off, but let me remind you that this team minus many contributors on defense defeated the eventual Super Bowl Champion Eagles convincingly in December. This unit is still comprised of Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Frank Clark and (hopefully) Earl Thomas. I am willing to die on the hill of Seahawks over 9 wins in 2018.

If you have any questions/predictions of your own, tweet back (@stevebolen22), reply on Facebook or comment below! I’d love to discuss!

Top Five Seahawks Primed to Breakout in 2018

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By now you’ve heard all about it. Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, Michael Bennett, Jimmy Graham, Cliff Avril, Paul Richardson, DeShawn Shead and potentially Earl Thomas (god please no) are all no longer Seahawks. That has left many analysts and pundits alike to predict the demise of the once great Seahawks. Records as low as 4-12 have been predicted for the Seahawks and Hawk fans were even blessed with this great take:

You’re welcome for the free promotion on my blog that nobody reads, Benjamin.

Anyways, there are five players in my mind that can prevent such a catastrophe of having the worst record in the NFL.

1. Tyler Lockett (WR)

It may seem odd to put a player here who’s been in the league for three years already. However, after an outstanding rookie season in 2015 that saw Lockett be named as a 1st Team All-Pro by the Associated Press, Lockett unfortunately broke his leg at the end of the 2016 season and that injury had lingering effects on his 2017 campaign.

Enter 2018. With Paul Richardson and Jimmy Graham gone and Doug Baldwin fully cemented as the team’s number one receiver, look for Lockett to have a big season. Oh, and he’s on a contract year.

2. Shaquill Griffin (CB)

Quill Griffin had a great rookie season, despite only registering one interception. Griffin was thrusted into a much larger role after Richard Sherman tore his achillies and by all accounts he handled it as well as he could. As Pro Football Focus Seahawks points out, Griffin ranked up well compared to his rookie counterparts in 2017:

Having a full off-season to prepare as the starter in Sherman’s old spot at left cornerback should do wonders for Griffin’s development. He’ll need to take a leadership role in that secondary that has seen the departures of Sherman, Chancellor and a rocky relationship with Earl Thomas. Griffin has made it very clear that he plans to carry the torch of the L.O.B.

3. Nazair Jones (DT)

2017 3rd-round pick Nazair Jones started in only two games last season and played in just 11. However, he managed to register 19 tackles, two sacks and an interception in that time. With the ill-fated Sheldon Richardson trade backfiring on Seattle after he signed a one-year deal with the Minnesota Vikings, Jones will have room to take a hold of the starting role right out of camp.

The Seahawks supplemented this with the signings of Defensive Tackles Tom Johnson and Shamar Stephen (both former Vikings). Nazair Jones will have his work cut out for him in camp with heavy competition at the position that also includes 2016 2nd-round pick, Jarran Reed. The Seahawks will need solid production from both Reed and Jones, but look for Jones to breakout if he is able to play all 16 this season.

4. Nick Vannett (TE)

As a 3rd-round pick in the 2016 draft, Vannett had high expectations to produce pretty quickly as many higher round picks tend to do. Unfortunately, Vannett has been buried in the depth chart over the last two seasons behind the Greatest Seahawks Tight-End of all-time Jimmy Graham (In three seasons, Graham set the Seahawks’ Tight End franchise record for receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.) As well as everyone’s favorite Canadian now turned Detroit Lion Luke Willson.

The proverbial sea has parted at the Tight End position, leaving Vannett to compete against nine year veteran Ed Dickson and rookie Will Dissly. Now is Vannett’s best chance to take the starting role and start producing.

5. Michael Dickson (Punter)

#PuntersArePeopleToo

Also look at these punts, goddamn.

If these five (or four, sorry Michael) can put together a solid season it would pay huge dividends for the Seahawks in 2018. The NFC is looking more and more like the Western Conference in the NBA with the likes of the Eagles, Rams, Packers, Saints, Falcons & Vikings all looking like Super Bowl contenders. Couple that with teams like the Panthers, 49ers, Giants, Cowboys on the rise the Seahawks have their work cut out for them. Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner, KJ Wright, Doug Baldwin and (for now) Earl Thomas are still the core of this team, but they can only carry this team so far. The aforementioned five four players and their peers will determine the course of this season.

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