The Seattle Seahawks have a long-standing tradition of recognizing the role the 12th Man plays with the team. One item that has accompanied the history since Pete Carroll took over football operations is a more diverse form of communication with the fan base, be it via Twitter or press conferences.
Tuesday night the team's head coach hosted a "12th Man Town Hall" to update the status of the team, the players and expectations for the 2012 season.
For fans that were not able to attend or watch the live webcast, here are some of the highlights.
The hour-long presentation began with several minutes of highlights from the 2011 season. Yes, there were quite a few featuring some terrific defensive plays and reminders that there is some talent on offense.
And what clip from 2011 wouldn't be complete without big Red Bryant blocking kicks or high-stepping into the end-zone?
Pete started the session with some interaction and his patented humor before giving a tip of the cap to the fan-base.
"This 12th Man thing is as real as it gets and as strong as it gets. Just as much as the guys playing, you do change games. You participate in this as much as anybody. We want you to know that we understand it and we get it. We love that you have made it like it is. We've talked to coaches and players all over the league and they know when they've got to go to Seattle they know something's up. They don't leave here thinking 'I thought it was gonna be louder.' They don't ever think that."
Pete Carroll during 12th Man Town Hall
Carroll then went into discussion on the importance of John Schneider's addition as general manager. Somewhat fitting, the viewership of the webcast was hovering in the 1,212 range at this point.
Schneider has been credited with finding some obscure, yet quality, contributors and has been a major part of the Seahawks rebuilding process.
Perhaps the most poignant portion of the discussion was Carroll discussing the team's philosophy and style.
Carroll said he wants to be known as a team that plays with great effort and enthusiasm. He wants the teammates sharing each other's strength and energy.
He also wants to be seen as a tough and smart football team. While he mentions later in the presentation that they didn't always make the right decisions in 2011, and they are working on execution and penalties, the goal is for the players to be physical and making the right decisions on the field.
But above all that, he has a philosophy on the game of football. He said the game is all about the ball.
The team that controls the ball controls what happens to the game.
Carroll followed that up an interesting statistic. He said his teams are 63-2 when winning the turnover battle. While he was at USC they won 53 straight games when leading in turnovers.
He looked at the improvement in the team last year and pointed to the increase in turnovers in the second half of the season. Fans should expect the defense to continue to force turnovers in 2012, allowing the offense to control the ball.
Seattle's offense will need to improve in 2012 if they are going to take advantage of turnovers, though. Seattle struggled with the 28th-ranked offense in 2011, creating a lopsided time of possession, particularly early in the season.
Carroll then turned to the makeup of the team. He noted Seattle had the second-oldest team in the NFL at the end of the 2010 season.
Their goal all along had been to get young, and despite almost 300 transactions in the first year they knew they needed to continue working on finding young playmakers.
At the start of the 2011 season they had the youngest starting 22 players in the NFL. The lockout stymied their growth and he recognized his team needed to "grow up" during the season. By the midway point of 2011 they were learning and the season turned.
Carroll noted that Seattle went from 77 yards rushing per game in the first half of the season to 135 yards per game in the last eight games. That figure would have been the sixth-best in the NFL.
Then Carroll gave a few hat-tips to some of their returning free agents before turning the attention to the draft class of 2012.
After a brief video highlight reel on the players, Carroll started talking about the free agent acquisitions. Jason Jones and Matt Flynn are both expected to contribute to the team this season.
Carroll was also excited about the addition of Kellen Winslow. He mentioned the team will manage Winslow closely and that he is a difference maker on the field and is already in Seattle and contributing in OTAs.
Several smaller topics were touched on during a question and answer session.
A question was raised about how they find players like Red Bryant that fit in a different role. Carroll said the coaches are always looking for players with unique qualities.
The staff liked Bryant's length and quickness and ability to overpower tight ends. They gave him an opportunity because he runs well for a 345 lb. defender.
He also joked about Bryant's potential to be heavier, noting he's only two Big Macs away from 380.
Carroll brought the discussion back to a point he made earlier in his presentation.
He said the staff wants to do things better than they've ever been done before.
This is no small feat, but not something they just pay lip-service to. They are making decisions and moves that have raised eyebrows around the NFL.
They were scrutinized for starting a 6'4" cornerback. His draft picks have also come under fire, as analysts feel they are drafting players too early.
Time will tell if the likes of James Carpenter and Bruce Irvin can live up to their draft status.
While the success of the players taken early in the draft will have some say in how close Carroll and his staff are to do things better than ever, the real factor will be wins.
This team does need to own the NFC West, as Carroll said he plans on doing. But regardless of how different an approach they take, until he wins a Championship it will seem like business as usual in Seattle.
Fans can watch a replay of the Town Hall via this link to Seahawks.com.
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