The Seattle Seahawks wrapped up mandatory minicamp Thursday, with head coach Pete Carroll closing this phase of the offseason with a press conference. Carroll sat down with the Seattle media for more than 30 minutes Thursday, diving into a range of topics. Carroll provided everything from injury updates to insight on the team's quarterback battle.
With so many new faces and questions about the season, Carroll set the tone with his opening statement.
"This is the biggest offseason of our life," said Carroll "There's only one way to look at it, it's the only one we got, so hopefully the message is clear, and I know just judging from the mentality of these guys that are here with us, there's no question how they're going to do it. In years past, I would tell you that I was kind of worried about these (upcoming) six weeks more so than what I've seen in the last couple years of our guys responding and coming to camp ready to go. I think they're going to do the same, but we need to do better and so that's what the challenge is. It's been posed to these guys, so we'll count on that happening and look forward to that time when it arrives."
Here are five things we learned from the Seahawks head coach to close out camp:
1. Jordyn Brooks Taking On A Bigger Role
Coach Carroll shared his thoughts on the progression of third-year linebacker Jordyn Brooks. The Texas Tech alum is coming off a 2021 season where he started every game and notched a franchise-record 184 combined tackles, five passes defensed and a fumble recovery. With the departure of Bobby Wagner, Brooks is taking on more of a leadership role for the Seattle defense. Carroll pinpointed some takeaways from Brooks' work throughout OTAs and mandatory minicamp.
"Yeah, he's just stepped to the front, realized the opportunity is here, we need him, and he's the play caller," Carroll said. "Along with that, it just has traditionally been that role, he senses it, and he's done a marvelous job, not with what he says, but with what he does and how he approaches this work. He's worked every day, giving you everything he has every step of the way. I mean, he has been a beautiful leader in that regard, and we couldn't ask for more."
2. Making The Most of Time: 11-on-11 Period
The Seahawks made the most of their time together for mandatory minicamp, as new faces and old went through everything from photo shoots to the playbook this week. Position battles - namely quarterbacks Geno Smith and Drew Lock , have been a main topic of conversation surrounding Seattle. The team has balanced fielding roster questions with getting as many reps as possible in the allotted time periods, namely 11-on-11 drills, allowing the team to get multiple looks at their personnel in live action. Coach Carroll expressed the importance of the drills and what the Seahawks got out of it.
"We made it a full game, kind of a mode, so that we would get a lot of situations, including the kicking game, field position changes with automatic punts, and stuff like that, just to put us more so completely into the mode," Carroll said of Thursday's practice, which was in a game-like format despite being at walkthrough speed. "We had a couple good two-minute situations that were there and all of the other ones that came along with it, so it worked out great. In this camp, I wanted us to be in a performance mode more than a practice mode, and so we were taking all of the stuff that we had learned up until now and took it to the field to apply and show what you know and where we are, so that we could get a great gauge on it. The guys did a wonderful job and we've been doing situations, it's really been the theme of this entire offseason situation work, so the play callers were calling plays throughout and all of the adjustments on the field went in with normal time frames, with the clock and all of that."
3. Geno & Drew: Friendly Competition
Carroll and the Seahawks have been firm in their confidence in the current competition between quarterbacks Geno Smith and Drew Lock. Smith started three games in 2021, completing 68 percent of his passes for 702 yards and 5 touchdowns.
"Drew's cool as heck man, I love Drew to death," Smith said.
Carroll went into clear detail about the quarterback race and his outlook for the coming months.
"Man, they've been impressive," said Carroll "They've been really impressive, and it's not been any one sequence here, or one day here, they have just been solid throughout. We've shared a ton of reps, Geno has gone with the first group throughout, but they've had very close to equal reps in situational opportunities throughout. They really have been very impressive, so I can't tell you anything other than that, they've done a terrific job so far and they look in control. Geno's still ahead, you can tell that, but it's not going to be too much for Drew to be caught up. By the time we get through camp, he'll be there."
4. Bill Walsh Fellowship Program: Opportunity
Coach Carroll has gained a trio of new additions to his staff for OTAs, minicamp and training camp, thanks to the Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowship. The diverse team features former Canadian Olympic running back and coach Amanda Ruller; South Carolina State Defensive Coordinator Johnathan Saxon, and former NFL player Akeem Dent. Coach Carroll discussed the importance of the opportunity for the new members of the team.
"Well, I hope they gain a lot," said Carroll "Akeem (Dent) and Amanda (Ruller) and Johnny (Saxon), they get thrown right in the middle of our stuff and they just got to latch on and go with us. We throw jobs and assignments and things at them, and it's not like we just kind of nudge them along. We want to kind of throw them into it. I have responsibility in the back of my mind, but I want them to see us. I want them to know what it's like to be here. I want them to know what our expectations and standards are all about so that they can take that with them as they move ahead. Whether they can stay with us or they come back to us, we've had all of that, or they take it somewhere else. I hope it's different and better than they've ever seen it and will ever see it. We're trying to make it special for them because I love coaches and I love to help them, in some way, find what they have to offer this world of football and their world. It's really important and we treat them with total respect. They're like the rest of us, the rest of the coaches, and our coaches do a great job at just diving in with them. We give them a lot of love because I don't want them wondering where they fit and all that. We have to get them into it as soon as we can because the time is short and it goes fast, and all that, so it's a marvelous time, it's a marvelous program, and over the years we've hired a lot of guys from internship approaches to us. I've always believed in growing our coaches, so we don't treat this experience lightly because this may be somebody that's on our staff down the road. It's always been something that we've taken very seriously."
5. Artie Burns the X-Factor
The Seahawks looked to fill out the cornerback position this March, adding former Pittsburgh Steeler cornerback Artie Burns. This spring has been a fresh start for Burns, and many have taken notice of his play, including his coaches, with Burns spending most of minicamp working with the No. 1 defense opposite Sidney Jones IV. On Wednesday, Bleacher Report named Burns as the X-Factor for the Seahawks going into the 2022 season. Coach Carroll shared his enthusiasm of Burns picking up Defensive Coordinator Clint Hurtt's system quickly.
"Artie (Burns) did a good job, Artie did a really nice job," said Carroll "We really jumped in with Artie in our press stuff. Artie's really fast, he's really long, and he's got a nice feel for it. He jumped in, he played with the first group most of camp and did a nice job. Real positive about him."