Why the Seattle Seahawks Have Pete Carroll to Thank for Super Bowl XLVIII Win

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistFebruary 3, 2014

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The Seattle Seahawks are officially your Super Bowl XLVIII champions after routing the Denver Broncos, 43-8, on Sunday night.

It took 38 years and two trips to the Super Bowl for the team to bring the Lombardi Trophy home to Seattle. It's difficult to imagine the Seahawks accomplishing the feat without current head coach Pete Carroll.

Carroll's Seahawks made it look pretty simple against the Broncos on Sunday night, but the future appeared anything but certain when Seattle named Carroll as its new head coach prior to the 2010 season.

That's because Carroll, like the Seahawks franchise itself, had to endure a long and often trying career before finally finding success on the game's biggest stage.

Carroll began his coaching career three years before the founding of the Seahawks franchise as a collegiate assistant at the University of the Pacific in 1973. It took more than a decade for Carroll to then make the jump to the NFL.

After failed head coaching stints with the New York Jets and New England Patriots in the 1990s, he returned to the collegiate ranks.

Carroll's time with the University of Southern California featured both extreme highs and lows. He brought two national championships to the university but was also a central figure in one of the biggest college football scandals in recent memory.

Some critics will likely never forgive Carroll for his role in the infractions that cost Reggie Bush a Heisman Trophy and cost USC one of its national titles. The fact that Seattle hired Carroll with the USC sanctions still forthcoming only added to the pressure he faced upon reentering the NFL.

"Folks who get it know that Carroll's hands carry a thick veneer of grime," wrote Mike Florio for Sporting News. "And they in turn recognize that justice won't truly be served until the only coaching Carroll ever does entails holding an Xbox controller."

Add in the fact that the Seahawks were coming off a 9-23 two-year stretch and had just ousted Jim Mora as a one-and-done head coach, and it is easy to see how some may have considered Seattle to be in a rocky situation.

The team's faith in Carroll quickly paid off, however, as Seattle reached the postseason in his first year on the job. Four years after taking over as the Seahawks' head coach and executive vice president, Carroll is now one of only three men to win both an NCAA national title and an NFL championship. 

It took quite a while for Carroll to learn a winning formula on the coaching and personnel levels. "It really took me getting fired a couple times, getting kicked in the butt, to get to where I am now," Carroll told reporters in the days leading up to Super Bowl XLVIII.

Getting there, it seems, came at the perfect time for the Seahawks organization. 

Usually described as a player's coach, Carroll brought a loose and fun atmosphere to Seattle's locker room, but he did so in a manner that allowed the team to forge an aggressive and suffocating demeanor on the football field. 

Linebacker Bruce Irvin recently said, via Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News:

You go in the team meeting room, you got basketball hoops, you got rap music playing. He’s a team player. In this society, players like people who are real with them. That’s what Pete is and that’s why I respect him and play for him so hard.

Playing hard allowed the Seattle defense to reign supreme during the 2013 regular season. The unit allowed a league-best 273.6 yards per game. It also allowed the Seahawks defense to embarrass the league's top offense on football's biggest night.

While the Seahawks carved out a reputation as a defensive juggernaut, Carroll's influence was not limited to just that side of the football.

Gregory Bull/Associated Press

The aggressive and relentless mentality that he instilled was on full display against the Broncos, as the Seahawks offense continued to take nail-driving shots toward the end zone even after having the game clearly in hand.

Carroll's incorporation of long-injured Percy Harvin into the offense against Denver (two carries, one reception for 50 offensive yards) was masterful, as was his willingness to allow the speedster to handle special teams duties (he returned the second-half opening kickoff 87 yards for a touchdown).

Of course, the coach also helped build this championship team from a personnel standpoint. The core of the team was put together over the past four years under the guidance of general manager John Schneider and Carroll, who has final say over personnel decisions.

Players brought in during Carroll's tenure include second-year quarterback Russell Wilson, star cornerback Richard Sherman and Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith.

Notable Players Added During Carroll's Tenure
PlayerPositionYear AcquiredVia
Russell WilsonQuarterback2012NFL Draft
Richard ShermanCornerback2011NFL Draft
Cliff AvrilDefensive End2013Free Agent
Percy HarvinReceiver/Return Specialist2013Trade
Malcolm SmithCornerback2011NFL Draft
Kam ChancellorSafety2010NFL Draft
Earl ThomasSafety2010NFL Draft
Marshawn LynchRunning Back2010Trade
Zach MillerTight End2011Free Agent
Bruce IrvinLinebacker2012NFL Draft
since 2010

Still, the best measure of Carroll's importance to the team is the way the Seahawks were prepared in every aspect to face the Broncos in the title game. 

Seattle produced one of the most dominating total-team performances in Super Bowl history. The Seahawks dropped 43 points on the Broncos, the most a team has scored in the Super Bowl since the Tampa Bay Buccaneers put up 48 in 2003. They also held the Denver offense—which averaged 37.9 points per game during the regular season—to just eight points while forcing four turnovers.

Oh, and they scored touchdowns on offense, defense and on special teams.

Many will point to Sherman and the Legion of Boom, to running back Marshawn Lynch or even to Wilson—who has played with veteran-like poise all season—as the catalyst for Seattle's championship run. 

Yet the Seahawks likely wouldn't be standing atop the football world without Carroll leading the way. 


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