"We're all we got...We're all we need."
With that pithy phrase, Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate encapsulates the motto and the attitude of the Seahawks in 2013. As one of the best teams in the NFL—and one of the toughest—the Seahawks don't spend a lot of time worrying about the minutia that can get other teams bogged down.
"My motto is: Control what you can control."
Both mottos came up a number of times in our short conversation. The point being: Do your job, lean on your teammates to do theirs, and don't worry about anything else.
That attitude directly reflects the leadership on the Seahawks. It's a philosophy Pete Carroll shared with me last season. Carroll and his coaches preach. The team is a willing (and winning) congregation. Then, the players go out and proselytize elsewhere because they believe Carroll's approach is more than just words or "coach speak." It's a new, better way to approach everything in life.
It's about being the very best you can be. Nothing else matters as long as you're working and striving to be your best. Always compete. It's truly that simple. Find the way to do your best. Compete in everything you do.
That word "compete" also came up a number of times in our conversation. See, Carroll had explained to me that competition is often misconstrued in the NFL. That, in actuality, the root of the word comes from striving together—not, against one another. Even in training camp, players work together toward a common goal, not in an effort to best their teammates and see them cut.
Buying into that scheme is important for the Seahawks. I asked Tate about Coach Carroll and if there were any instances that he could remember where another player didn't exactly buy in. He replied:
Coach Carroll is a players' coach. All of the players have a good relationship on and off the field with Coach Carroll. He brings in special types of guys that want to win and that buy in to his model. I never had a problem. Competition: You're either competing or you're not... always looking to win. Usually, if you're not competing, you're not putting your best out there. Coach Carroll will figure that out.
I also planted a little test for Tate, asking him how he felt having to compete against receiver Percy Harvin now that he's back following injury. Needless to say, he didn't take the bait. Coach Carroll would be proud!
Aww man, we can't wait. We think he's a great player. He's going to bring another dimension to this offense. I'm excited just to watch him. I wouldn't say he's going to necessarily going to take snaps away. I'm looking forward to learning from him and enhance my game.
Tate continued by explaining exactly how "competition" is viewed in Seattle and how he's positive that Harvin will learn some things from him, Sidney Rice and some of the other receivers as well. Not worried about his targets, not worried about his role in the offense, Tate just sounded legitimately excited for the team to get a new weapon.
It's not just words. It's a whole new way of thinking for many. It's a refreshing change of pace—especially at a position where "Gimme the damn ball" was a common phrase of so-called "diva" wide receivers for an entire generation.
The Seahawks have had some problems this season away from home. Tate even recognized that when talking about the success of the team. I asked him if the Seahawks were the best team in the NFL:
I think so. It might be a little biased. I feel like the way we work. We have great players and a great city. For me, I gain my energy from the fans. When I see the guys up there going crazy it fuels me. The Twelves (Seattle's "12th Man") show up every single week.
Away from home, things are a little bit different:
You just gotta lean on the guys on your team. We have a sense of family around here. You wanna make your family happy.
It makes a lot of sense and, again, fits in with Carroll's team philosophy. Tate mentioned how quarterback Russell Wilson took the skill position players down to Los Angeles before the season to work on chemistry and timing.
Tate isn't ready to call Wilson the best young quarterback in the league, but only because it's only his second season, noting that he's well on his way:
I think he's one of the best. He has the potential to be the best. He's growing. It's just a time thing. He's got all the tools to be the best.
He also mentioned how he (like Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green) loves to unwind with Call of Duty. Tate and his teammates played three to four hours a day when the game first came out and almost always together. Don't get your hopes up to join in with one of their sessions, as Tate explained that they don't really like playing with random people as it's a team bonding activity for them.
Tate said that either he or cornerback Richard Sherman is the best Call of Duty player on the team and that Sherman will still talk a little trash here and there, but because it's the teammates competing with each other (there's that word again) there isn't a whole lot of talk.
I also asked if they had gotten Carroll to play, and he replied that they hadn't, but he's "sure he's played" because, "He's a big kid."
With that kind of team atmosphere and the talent this team has, it's a threat for the Super Bowl this season. With Harvin returning, Tate continuing to make plays and Wilson leading the charge, the offense finally has the talent to keep up with the fantastic Seahawks defense, and that puts the Seahawks in position to do a lot of damage in the NFC.