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If Pete Carroll has displayed anything during his first 15 months as coach of the Seahawks, it’s that he’s all about competing.
So how is a hyper-gung ho type like Carroll spending his time during the NFL work stoppage? He’s huddling with his staff to discuss what will happen when they’re allowed to compete again.
“Today, our coaching staff met for about an hour and a half just figuring out all the alternatives of plans we could have if they said this week, ‘OK, you’re back in action.’ Or, ‘Next week you’re back in action.’ Or, ‘The next week,’ ” Carroll said Monday, when he was the guest speaker for the regional Associated Press Sports Editors meeting at the Seattle Times.
“Each one of those decision weeks makes a difference. So we’re trying to figure out: How can we get these guys as soon as we possibly can?”
That was just the most-topical topic Carroll touched on during his presentation to the group, and the Q&A session that followed.
The Seahawks already have missed the start of their offseason conditioning program, as well as the beginning of the OTA sessions. This weekend, the post-draft minicamp is scheduled. But in this offseason of uncertainty, everything is on hold – except Carroll’s enthusiasm, which was in overdrive on Monday.
Carroll on the recent NFL Draft, where the Seahawks used their top two picks to select tackle James Carpenter and guard John Moffitt – when many were clamoring for, and expecting, a quarterback: “We had a real clear thought – we wanted to come out of this draft tougher; (with) committed players, strong-willed guys, guys that will battle like crazy and help us build the culture of being a highly, highly competitive team.
“You may have heard a player was this or a player was that. To us, we may agree with you that he can do this and he can do that. But he wasn’t the guy that we wanted to play with; he wasn’t the guy we wanted to coach the most. We wanted to get guys in this program that will help us build. I know you ask, ‘Why didn’t you take a quarterback? You have quarterback issues and all that.’ We didn’t think we could afford to yet. We have such much work to do to build the culture of this team and to make it as highly competitive as we possibly could, we needed to make a statement and get there – get those things accomplished and get it done. So you saw us go right after a couple guys that are offensive linemen. Which is an area that – without that – the quarterback can’t play.”
Carroll on his first season with the Seahawks, when they became the first team to win its division with a 7-9 record and then shocked the NFL world by upsetting the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints in the first round of the playoffs: “It was an exciting challenge. It was so much fun to come back to the league for me, and to come back to this venue that we play at – Qwest (Field) – with such an incredible following. It made other, not SC so much, but other venues that we’d been in pale. I couldn’t believe that we could have this much fun, this much excitement, this much noise and the craziness in an NFL setting.
“So even though it was such a round-about way to get to a division championship last year, and we even had to do it like it had never been done before, it still allowed us to do something in a fashion that I think stages us for the next step.”
Carroll on the team’s QB situation, with incumbent backup Charlie Whitehurst being the only passer currently under contract: “In my mind, all I can do is help Charlie be the best he can be. Now when the opportunity makes itself available to us where we can go out and go after (re-signing Matt Hasselbeck), we go after it again.
“As John (Schneider, the general manager) said, we’ve got Plan A, B, C, D and E. We’ve got a bunch of plans here. And we’ll take them as we can.”
But everything always seemed to come back to – you guessed it – competing.
“The simple mentality that pervades through all of this stuff we do is competition,” Carroll said. “If you don’t hear me talk about competition, then I had a bad outing. It’s so central to everything that we’re doing it should come up in everything.”
Like when the lockout was lifted for a few hours on the second day of the draft. Carroll’s staff went into overdrive, contacting as many players as possible and getting playbooks out to them.
“We didn’t know if we were going to have an hour,” he said. “So we wanted to get everything into the (Fed Ex) trucks and out of our building as fast as we possibly could. That’s just competing.
“It is what it is. It’s just battling to figure out a way to make the most of an opportunity. That’s how we operate. That’s how we think.”
It’s a philosophy rooted in his first 16 seasons in the NFL – one that only blossomed during Carroll’s unprecedented run of success at USC, when the Trojans won seven consecutive Pac-10 championships in the nine-season stay that preceded his arrival in Seattle.
Last year, Carroll had just finished his book, “Win Forever,” and was preparing for a national tour to promote it.
“I’m never writing another one,” he cracked. “I will never go through that again. That is a horrible experience.”
But the affects of his “Always Compete” approach that is spelled out in the book will be written and rewritten as his tenure with the Seahawks continues.
“That’s what I’d like to share with you today – that’s how we operate; that’s how we think,” Carroll said. “We try to really get clear on what’s important to us, and then make a clear statement on what that is so we can agree on what we’re trying to get done.
“We’re trying to make this a faster, stronger, tougher, more-committed football team. It gives us direction. It gives us strength. It gives a battle cry. It gives us direction that we might not have otherwise to make the choices we make.”