Somewhat lost in the Seahawks' free-agency news Tuesday, which included the signing of running back Eddie Lacy, was Doug Baldwin's hour-long appearance on 710 ESPN Seattle. During his hour-long sit down with the Brock and Salk Show, Baldwin covered a variety of topics ranging from his relationship with teammates to the 2016 season to the work he is doing in the community.
Here are five things we learned from Baldwin's appearance on the Brock and Salk Show:
1. Last season was frustrating in how it ended, but "that fire's going to be there," when players get back to work.
The Seahawks accomplished a lot in 2016, including a third NFC West title in four years and a fifth straight with at least 10 wins and a playoff berth. But with the season ending in a Divisional Round playoff loss at Atlanta, the Seahawks felt like they didn't accomplish everything they could have last year.
"Obviously it was frustrating to end the way that we did and not be more competitive like we'd like to be," Baldwin said. "We dealt with a lot of injuries, too, and that was the biggest problem. We had a lot of setbacks with the injuries and it was very frustrating because we couldn't get that consistency that we're used to. Yeah, we typically start rough in the beginning of the season like all teams do, but then we find our way and we just were unable to find it and I think it had a lot to do with our injuries, especially on the offensive side of the ball.
"There's no excuses, no explanations, just whatever we have at the time—whether it's 100 percent or 50 percent—you've got to go out there and you've got to make it work. So that's what we did. We tried to keep our focus on the task at hand, not look too much into the future or to the outcome of what was at stake, but we tried to focus in on the moment. I thought we did, for the most part, a good job of that. We just fell short a few times."
As for what lies ahead in 2017, Baldwin is optimistic that as injured players get healthy, good things are in the team's future.
"I think that you'll see that we're coming together again, that we're starting to get back to that healthy point," he said. "Earl Thomas is working out. You've seen him post his workouts. I know for a fact that Russ (Wilson) is doing extremely well and he's been working his tail off. I know Tyler (Lockett) is ahead of schedule right now. A lot of guys have those bruises and their bangs that they're getting back to the point where they're healthy, more healthy than they've been in the past, and I'm really excited about that. Including (Richard Sherman), Sherm dealt with some injuries through the course of the season and he's getting back to full strength, and I'm really excited to see us come back together because I know that fire's going to be there."
2. Russell Wilson earned even more respect with how he played through injuries.
With all Wilson has accomplished early in his career, he has already earned the respect of his teammates, as is evident in them electing him offensive captain each of the last four seasons. But the way Wilson battled through significant knee and ankle injuries last season without missing a game only made Seahawks players respect their quarterback that much more according to Baldwin.
"He was hurt," Baldwin said. "To be completely honest with you, he was hurt, and I've got to give him a lot of credit because for him to play through the injuries that he had it was miraculous. It was unbelievable. To give him even more credit—he would be mad at me for saying this—but I keep tabs on him during the offseason to check in with the guys that are around him to see what he's doing, to see how he's doing, and what I've heard just recently is he's being an animal right now. He's grinding his butt off, and I couldn't be more excited about it because when Russell Wilson goes, our whole team goes. So for him to be where he's at now after all the injuries he endured this past season, I'm really excited about our chances for this year.
Baldwin went on to compare Wilson's 2016 season to 2011 when Tarvaris Jackson played much of the season with a serious pectoral injury.
"The reason why we had so much respect for Tarvaris that year is because he played with a torn pec, and a lot of guys wouldn't have done that," Baldwin said, "I know that same year I think it was a defensive lineman that ended his season because of the same injury, and Tarvaris—on his throwing arm—was still going. So that gained a lot of respect for us in our locker room, and it's the same thing for Russell Wilson. To see that injury on tape, live, see it happen, knowing exactly what transpired—obviously we got the information afterward of what happened to his knee—and for him to continue to go out there and play the way he did and give it all for his teammates, you can't help but respect the guy."
3. Baldwin wants you to remain calm this offseason.
When asked what fans or the media get wrong about the NFL, Baldwin said there aren't a lot of things, but did point to people overacting a bit this time of year when it comes to the moves teams make—or in many cases, don't make—in free agency.
"You guys don't get much wrong to be honest with you," he said. "When I hear you guys talk specifically you're usually on point. The only thing I would say that seems, last year specifically, was the negativity surrounding us, and some of the negativity now about what we should be doing in free agency, what we're not doing in free agency. I understand that as fans, and even sometimes as players, that we get anxious and overly excited. We want to do something now. But there's a methodical plan here and I have full faith in John Schneider and Pete Carroll because they've put together a championship caliber team year-in and year-out. Pete has a track record of doing it at USC, he comes here, Seattle Seahawks win their first Super Bowl, they go back to the Super Bowl the following year, and we've been in the playoffs for five years straight. So they're doing something right. If you have something to point to negatively I would say that we had a lot of injuries this past season and that inhibited our ability to perform at the level that I know we're capable of. So the only negative thing I would say is let's not panic when it comes to the offseason."
4. He's excited about Eddie Lacy.
Baldwin's appearance came only minutes after news broke that the Seahawks had agreed to a deal with Lacy, but Baldwin already knew about the move and was excited about what it could mean for the offense.
"Honestly, I remember when he came out of college I was really excited about his potential because he seemed like an explosive runner," Baldwin said. "He looked for contact, but he was also pretty quick with his feet and pretty fast for his size, so I'm excited to get him in here."
5. Baldwin continues to stay busy off the field.
In addition to the work he is doing with his leadership consulting firm, TrueLEAD Consulting, Baldwin has also continued his work to try to build a bridge between local law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve. That effort has included numerous meetings with politicians and various law enforcement groups, as well as a trip to Olympia during the season when he addressed the Washington State Use of Deadly Force in Community Policing Joint Legislative Task Force and met with Governor Jay Inslee.
"We've made some great strides, especially here in the state of Washington," said Baldwin, who has been part of an effort to change a state law that makes it difficult to prosecute law enforcement for the use of deadly force.
"We're the only state in the country that has that proclamation in the law, so for me it's like, 'OK, now we just need to catch up with the rest of the country.' And then we have this program, Sue Rahr, who's leading the way in changing the philosophy of law enforcement from being warriors of the community to guardians of the community, and she's done a phenomenal job. Obviously, she's getting a lot of push back because if I look at it from the other perspective, from the law enforcement perspective, the training that they've received, the way that they've gone about their business, they've been able to come home to their families relatively safely for the past 40 years. So how do you go about telling somebody that, 'Hey, this is better for you, let's do it this way, it's better for you' when they've been coming home to their families for the past 40 years. So it's a very delicate situation and the greatest thing that I think we've done as an organization, and including myself personally, is just learning. Being able to just shut up, don't spit out our opinions right away, just listen to what other people had to say. It has become a very intricate and complicated issue… It's extremely complicated. So as we go on through this process it's been a fundamental core of ours to just learn as much as we can before we make any moves."
Doug Baldwin visited Olympia to speak at a hearing of the Washington State Use of Deadly Force in Community Policing Joint Legislative Task Force and meet with Governor Jay Inslee.