Pete Carroll kicking aside any and all distractions

Posted Oct 27, 2013

As the 6-1 Seahawks approach a game they should win against the Rams in St. Louis on “Monday Night Football,” coach Pete Carroll isn’t about to let himself or his players trip over any potential traps.

It’s a good thing Pete Carroll doesn’t have super-hero powers. Like laser vision, for example.

During this extended week leading up to Monday night’s game against the 3-4 Rams in St. Louis, the Seahawks’ fourth-year coach was asked about the team getting an emotional boost with the return of Percy Harvin and if there was a point in the season when he becomes concerned with tiebreaker procedures for the playoffs.

Before Carroll’s responses to those questions during Q&A sessions that took place in the auditorium at Virginia Mason Athletic Center and in front of a backdrop after practice came you’ve-got-to-be-kidding looks that packed enough intensity to leave smoldering craters where the inquiring minds were sitting and starting.

It’s more than understandable, because Carroll can’t let himself go to either of those places. Not in this week where his 6-1 team could easily be distracted because the Seahawks are preparing to play a Rams team that just lost its starting quarterback to a season-ending knee injury, was not playing to expectations even before that happened and is hosting the franchise’s first “Monday Night Football” game since 2006 that has become an afterthought encounter because the Cardinals will be hosting the fifth game of the World Series just down the street.

Then there’s that and-don’t-forget fact that the Rams have beaten the Seahawks in the Edward Jones Dome twice in Carroll’s first three seasons, as well as the Seahawks’ seven-point victory over the Rams in the regular-season finale at CenturyLink Field last season after they had dispatched their previous three opponents by 29, 33 and 58 points.

Carroll hasn’t forgotten, and won’t let his players forget, either.

All this “one-game-at-time” and “each-week-is-a-championship-opportunity” talk that flows so freely from the players? Where do you think it’s rooted?

“It’s one of those things that we’re going into this game and we know it’s a championship game for us,” quarterback Russell Wilson said. “That’s our mindset every week. It’s an NFC game and our goal is to go 1 and 0.”

So don’t expect to trip Carroll up with questions about playing for tiebreaker implications or needing a psychological boost from the return of one player – even if that player could be an impactful as Harvin. And, beware of that laser-vision factor when asking those questions.

On the idea of calculating tiebreakers for playoff positioning, Carroll said, “No. No. Every game’s a championship game for us. We don’t know which one’s going to factor and which one’s going to make the difference at the end. You look back, ‘If we had won that game right there everything else would have been different.’ Again, it goes back to our focus and discipline to stay in connection with what that takes to consider each game like that.”

Carroll thumped the podium he was standing behind on “focus” and “discipline” to emphasis just how strongly he feels about this one-game-a-time approach that has carried the Seahawks to a franchise-best start.

As for that psychological boost because of Harvin’s return, and the overwrought preoccupation by the media with when it will happen, Carroll said, “I don’t think it’s the inspirational boost we’ve been waiting for.”

The Seahawks did not make the trade with the Minnesota Vikings to acquire Harvin, a big-play receiver/returner/runner, with the idea of reinventing what they’re doing on offense. It was a move to enhance what the offense already had – leading rusher Marshawn Lynch, tight end Zach Miller, a group of wide-outs that includes Sidney Rice, Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin and, of course, Wilson.

“Remember, I said this a long time ago about this, we weren’t expecting him to come in and change our football team,” Carroll said. “We were hoping that he could come in and contribute and help us, and that’s all he wants to do. He wants to help us get better and try to win the games, and that’s what we’re counting on, too.”

Just as no one game is more important in the Seahawks’ Carroll-controlled approach, neither is one player. Regardless of how good that player might be.

It’s an approach that has them one win from reaching the midway point of this season just as they finished last season – at 7-1.