The prevailing opinion of Seahawks fans when Pete Carroll was hired was ambivalence. Most of us knew he had become a historic college coach, but it was unclear how much of that had to do with coaching, and how much of it had to do with recruiting. Since recruiting is largely a wasted talent in the NFL, it was hard to get all that excited about Carroll as a coach.
There were similar reservations about his previous NFL coaching experience, and the potential for his need to prove himself getting in the way of sound decisions. The Charlie Whitehurst trade fanned those flames, but they were all but doused after a stellar draft that most ranked as the best in the NFL.
Fast forward a few months, and we get a lot of stories about his “energy” and the speakers playing music at practice, but nothing of any substance. That is, at least until Tuesday. On Tuesday, a few scuffles broke out at practice. Bill Cowher or Rex Ryan may have reveled in it. Mike Holmgren may have focused on the the QBs involvement, chastising Matt for putting himself in harm’s way. Jim Mora may have jumped into the middle of it. Pete Carroll spoke to his team to tell them that they must stop short of doing anything that would result in a penalty during a game.
Sounds sensible, right? It also tells us a little about Carroll as a coach, and his state of mind. He is not posing, or grandstanding, telling long stories to reporters of fights he’s seen during practice in the NFL. He’s not trying to create an image for the team as getting “nastier.” He isn’t apologizing for it. He handled it without hesitation or drama. For a guy who was the Big Show in Tinsel Town for nearly a decade, that says a lot.
In that small moment, Carroll gave me some hope that he is here for the right reasons, and will be an earnest leader of this team. If that’s true, his players will play for him. If that’s true, there will be no favorites and no sacred cows. What remains to be seen is how he and his staff can match up on the X’s and O’s with other NFL coaching staffs. Saturday will give us a clue. How he leads the team through a likely losing season will tell us much more.
For now, I will admit that I’m slowly finding myself in Pete Carroll’s corner, and that’s not where I expected to be.