How John Schneider, Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson Transformed the Seahawks

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How John Schneider, Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson Transformed the Seahawks
Brian Bahr/Getty Images
The coach and QB who have revitalized the Seahawks.

After their 58-0 evisceration of the Arizona Cardinals this past Sunday, it’s time to take the Seattle Seahawks seriously as a threat to win games in January.

The organization has shown tremendous growth in its third year under head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider. Rookie quarterback Russell Wilson has been sensational. The defense has been superb.

Most importantly, the 8-5 Seahawks still have an opportunity to win the NFC West, a fact that seemed ridiculous not too long ago.

The Seahawks will be favored this coming weekend when they travel to Toronto to face the Buffalo Bills. There is little chance that Seattle loses to Chan Gailey, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Co., especially when the game isn’t being played at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Meanwhile, the first-place team in the NFC West, 9-3-1 San Francisco, will travel to New England for a Sunday night showdown with the Patriots. Just ask the Houston Texans about prime-time games at Gillette Stadium.

If Seattle holds serve north of the border, and the Patriots win at home, then Week 16’s clash between the 49ers and Seahawks at CenturyLink Field—already flexed to NBC’s Sunday night game—could very well decide the NFC West title. 

Let’s credit the three men most responsible for the dramatic transformation that’s taken place in the Pacific Northwest.

 

General Manager John Schneider

Handout/Getty Images
The Seahawks' unsung hero: general manager John Schneider.

John Schneider is a favorite of ours on the SiriusXM Blitz. He comes on our show a handful of times per year and is always a terrific listen—thoughtful, candid and interesting.

He has said repeatedly on the program that he’s trying to build the Seahawks into a team capable of “winning a street fight.” With the team’s punishing defense (ranked third overall) and physical rushing attack (ranked fourth overall), his vision has been realized.

Excluding the swing-and-miss transactions of acquiring quarterback Charlie Whitehurst from the Chargers for a third-round pick and the drafting of offensive lineman James Carpenter in the first round in 2011, Schneider has made all the right moves in Seattle.

Along with head coach Pete Carroll, Schneider has overseen drafts that have netted a bevy of starters. Quarterback Russell Wilson, left tackle Russell Okung, safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, linebackers K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner, offensive guard John Moffitt, wide receiver Golden Tate and cornerback Richard Sherman have become mainstays in the Seahawks lineup.

Schneider brought Marshawn Lynch to Seattle via trade, and Lynch has been in “beast mode” ever since. He signed former CFL standout Brandon Browner, who, despite his current four-game suspension for Adderall, has been a revelation.

He rightly jettisoned last year’s starting quarterback, Tarvaris Jackson, and replaced him with highly regarded backup Matt Flynn and Wilson.

Just like his maverick head coach, Schneider sticks to his guns. He joined the SiriusXM Blitz on the Monday after the NFL draft this past April and told us that there were two players he wasn't going to leave the draft without: defensive end Bruce Irvin and Wilson.

Conventional wisdom said the Seahawks reached when they drafted both men. Well, Irvin has eight sacks, and Wilson has been one of the best stories in the league.

John Schneider has done an unbelievable job as general manager of the Seattle Seahawks.

 

Head Coach Pete Carroll

The 2012 season has to feel vindicating for Pete Carroll.

Brian Bahr/Getty Images
Pete Carroll has been a terrific leader for the Seahawks.

Despite all his success at the University of Southern California, Carroll was widely viewed as a great college coach, a rah-rah type who couldn’t get it done in the NFL. Critics pointed to his unsuccessful reigns as head man for the New York Jets and Patriots, and viewed his hiring in Seattle with skepticism.

With the performance of his team this season, Carroll has proved the haters wrong.

He made perhaps the gutsiest call of the entire NFL calendar, just before the team’s third preseason game in August.

When the team signed the aforementioned Flynn away from the Green Bay Packers, many (including yours truly) thought he was a mortal lock to become the team’s starting signal-caller.

But Carroll has always preached the value of competition. It’s become more than just a talking point—it’s the way the Seahawks do business. The best guy will play, regardless of when he was signed or drafted.

When Carroll named rookie Russell Wilson as his starting quarterback going into the third preseason game, it represented a seismic shift in the Seahawks organization. Carroll’s competition mantra was in full effect. Wilson had performed the best at training camp; thus, he became the starter.

Carroll went all-in on Wilson. The move has paid off in spades.

In addition, Carroll, whose expertise lies on the defensive side of the ball, has done an outstanding job coaching up that unit. Seattle allows the second-fewest points per game (15.5), and the defense has often resembled a dominant group.

He’s continued to foster an incredible home-field advantage at CenturyLink Field, where the "12th Man" seemingly wills the Seahawks to victory. Seattle is 16-7 in home games (including playoffs) since Carroll became the head coach.

Carroll has the Seahawks in prime position to qualify for the tournament and to make noise in January.

 

Quarterback Russell Wilson

Kevin Casey/Getty Images
Don't look now, but Russell Wilson is pointing toward a possible NFC West title.

2012 was the fourth consecutive NFL scouting combine that I covered for SiriusXM NFL Radio. During my stays in Indianapolis, I’ve met just about every top prospect and heard him interviewed on our airwaves.

When I think about the most impressive athletes I’ve come across in the pre-draft process, Russell Wilson is at the forefront of the list.

Listening to him speak at the combine, coupled with his pre-draft interview on the SiriusXM Blitz, had me convinced that Wilson would be a quality quarterback in the NFL, despite preconceived notions that he would struggle due to his height (he’s only 5’11”).

Wilson has sparkled in his rookie season, showing the kind of decision-making ability that belies his neophyte status. The third-round pick has tossed 20 touchdowns against only nine interceptions and has led comeback victories against Green Bay, New England and Chicago.

His intangibles are off the charts. Teammates and coaches gush over his leadership ability, calm demeanor and fiery desire to win football games.

Perhaps the biggest credit to Wilson’s success has been how he’s forced his way into the conversation for rookie of the year in a season where first-year quarterbacks have been all the rage.

Andrew Luck has been superb in Indianapolis. Robert Griffin III has resurrected the Redskins.

Unbelievably, though, Wilson might be doing the best job of the three. If the Seahawks manage to win the NFC West, you can make a compelling argument for Wilson to be named the league’s top rookie.

And if the Seahawks do win the NFC West, they’re guaranteed at least one home game in January. Seattle is 6-0 this season at CenturyLink Field.

After Wilson’s game-winning drive to beat the Bears at Soldier Field, I have the utmost confidence in him to succeed in a big spot.

Thanks to Wilson, Schneider and Carroll, the Seahawks will be a dominant force in the NFC for years to come.

 

Nick Kostos is the executive producer of the SiriusXM Blitz, hosted by Rich Gannon and Adam Schein, on SiriusXM NFL Radio. You can follow Nick on Twitter.

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