Pete Carroll and John Schneider Finally Winning Over Skeptics
When Pete Carroll first arrived in Seattle, a lot of members of the media, as well as the 12th man, were slightly bemused by the move.
It was felt that Seahawks management had lost their collective mind.
No matter that Carroll had enjoyed almost unparalleled success at USC; that was at the college level. People doubted his ability to coach in the NFL and deal with professional athletes, especially after his last go-round with the New England Patriots.
The public was even more confused after the hiring of general manager John Schneider, in part because Carroll was involved in the process. What would happen when there was a disagreement over a potential trade or a draft pick? Who would have the final say?
Matters weren't helped when the organisation started revamping the roster: The likes of Seneca Wallace, Darryl Tapp, and Rob Sims were traded; Nate Burleson left for the Detroit Lions; Deon Grant and Matt Overton were released; Patrick Kerney retired; and the Walter Jones situation was still up in the air (a decision on his retirement is now expected to be made this coming Thursday.)
It wasn't that these players leaving concerned the fans. It was just that the Seahawks didn't appear to be replacing them. Even when players were signed, such as Chris Baker and Charlie Whitehurst, who has never even thrown a regular season pass, the decisions left the public feeling decidedly underwhelmed. Missing out on Brandon Marshall was another negative.
Now, the feeling within the Pacific Northwest couldn't be more different. It's obviously easy to say this with hindsight, but maybe we all should have been more patient in giving the franchise time to put their plan into action. This much should have been clear after hiring the likes of offensive co-ordinator Jeremy Bates and offensive line guru Alex Gibbs.
The seeds for the turnaround in the perception of Carroll and company were planted with the signing of Ben Hamilton, a regular starter for the Denver Broncos, and Reggie Williams, a talented wide receiver and local product who just needed another chance.
However, it's the draft that has really begun to open the eyes of those within the Emerald City and indeed around the country as a whole.
Selecting Walter Jones' heir apparent, Russell Okung, was a great start, closely followed by the addition of safety Earl Thomas, who can also play cornerback. Another pleasant surprise was Golden Tate, a two-time 1,000-yard receiver for Notre Dames, still being available for the 60th pick. All three players are expected to be able to contribute for the Seahawks sooner rather than later.
For anyone who thinks it was easy to select these players by virtue of their still being available when the Seahawks were on the board, consider some of the draft-day trades made. The addition of LenDale White and Leon Washington now gives the team their own version of a "thunder and lightning" rushing attack.
White is a former 1,000-yard rusher (still only 25) who played for Carroll at USC and can grind out the tough yards up the middle and near the goal line. Washington, meanwhile, has big-play potential every time he touches the ball and can double as a kick returner.
Needless to say, along with Justin Forsett (Julius Jones now appears to be expendable), you can see the rushing game improving considerably from last season, especially running behind the left side of the line.
Throughout it all, Carroll and Schneider have looked extremely relaxed in the "war room," as well as in their press conferences, laughing and joking together like old pals. Schneider even found time to flex his "muscles for the cameras" at the end of the first day of the draft.
There's still a long way to go, but the Seahawks appear headed in the right direction, as they look to return the club to the heights of the 2005 season. Suddenly, there's a newfound sense of excitement, and I, for one, am very optimistic about the future.
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