As the 2022 NFL season kicks off this week, the Seahawks will open against the Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football. While there may be questions about the direction of the team from the outside, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll is focused on sticking to his proven methods of building a winning team and culture.
In order to know where the 70-year-old Carroll is going, you have to know where he's been. The fifth episode of "The Sound" opens with Carroll's debut at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center in Renton on January 12, 2010. Coming off a decade of success at the University of Southern California where he captured two national championships, Carroll assured the media he was ready for the task at hand.
"I hope that you can sense the excitement I feel about this opportunity," said Carroll. "I know it's going to be hard, I know it's going to be difficult. And people from where I come from want to say well 'Gosh why would you do that when you win so much? All the time in college football and here you are going to the meat-grinder of the NFL.' I'm ready. I couldn't be more prepared for it, I couldn't be more excited about it and I can't wait to get started. I know we have to go through the press conference, but I can't wait to get upstairs and start looking at film and getting this thing rolling."
But this episode isn't about Carroll's four-decade collegiate and professional coaching career prior to taking command of the Seahawks, but about the 'True Grit' it takes to formulate a winner. And for Carroll, that starts in the summer. Episode five takes us through the Seattle Seahawks offseason as Carroll gets players to buy in and the team decides on a starting quarterback.
Angela Duckworth: Finding Grit
Since taking over as the Seahawks leader, Carroll has led Seattle to eight double-digit winning seasons, including capturing the first-ever franchise Super Bowl Championship in 2013. For Carroll, a major force in his success has been player development and having an eye for finding moldable talent through heart.
Over the course of time, Carroll has found sources of inspiration for his speeches to his players. One person that he's leaned on for inspiration is award-winning psychologist Angela Duckworth.
"I was at my desk doing some work in the spring time (in 2013) and the TV was on in the background and it was a Ted Talk and it was this doctor talking about this concept she had for grit," said Carroll. "She was talking about passion, perseverance, resilience and finisher and all of the elements that make up somebody who has grit. She was saying grit was the best person to measure a person's potential for success."
Carroll and Duckworth have spent plenty of time together over the years, with Duckworth's written works describing the need for girt to succeed becoming a driving force for both Carroll and the Seahawks locker room.
In July, Duckworth paid a visit to Seahawks training camp to hone how important grit and resilience is - from starters to roster hopefuls.
"So here's the new idea of goal-fusion that's just coming out," said Duckworth. "It looks like world-class performers who are truly the best at what they do, when they are doing practice drills, especially when they're doing something hard and boring, they fuse the goals together. So when you ask them 'What are you doing', they don't say 'I'm doing a drill.' They don't say 'I'm doing what coach told me.' They don't say 'I'm practicing.' They will say while they're practicing, 'What are you doing', 'I'm winning the Super Bowl', 'What are you doing', 'I'm being my best-self.' And it makes all the difference."
Coaching and Chemistry
It's easy for a coach in power to just talk the talk, but Carroll walks the walk in preparation. A long time removed from his playing days at the University of Pacific, Carroll is still youthful both mentally and physically. Episode 5 shows just how much that hasn't changed over the years, from being stern on drawing the best out of his players - to keeping in shape and getting the best out of himself.
Whether it's running his customary 100-yard down-and-back sprints on the field before practice, to using metaphors and expletives to draw the best out of his players - Carroll sticks to the script.
Quarterback Geno Smith is in his fourth season in Seattle, and first as Carroll's starter.
"Coach Carroll is an amazing man, an amazing coach, and he's competing himself," said Smith. "He's out there throwing the ball, he's running around, he brings the energy that he expects from us."
Episode 5 looks at the moment in the 2021 season when Russell Wilson injured his middle finger in Week 5 against the Los Angeles Rams.
"I just remember telling him, like 'Yo, it's time, I've been waiting','' said Smith. "It's a surreal moment to think about, but the reality of the situation is the team needed me to step up in that moment. But I had been preparing for that for a while, and I was excited for the opportunity."
You are taken back to Smith's first drive against the Rams after Wilson's injury, leading the Seahawks down the field for a scoring drive against the eventual Super Bowl champions. While Los Angeles would win 26-17, it was the grit that allowed Smith to thrive in the moment.
As the Seahawks prepare to open the season at home on Monday Night Football against the Denver Broncos, it's all about balance. Finding a way to balance fire with fun is something Carroll has developed a knack for over time, and we see how fun can take the tension off a tough camp.
The Seahawks hang up their cleats and beat the hot Renton sun, hitting the team buses to head out for a fun day. While players like defensive tackle Myles Adams discuss Carroll easing the worries of camp, we see the players at ease, swinging for gold at Top Golf.
Episode 5 of "The Sound" captures all of the elements necessary to build a team filled with grit - from a coach that's never satisfied to a team of hungry players.
The Seahawks took the field Tuesday for practice and there the pedal was pushed hard as the team gears up for week 1 against the Broncos.