A year after leaving the Southern California sunshine up I-5 North Highway, Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll is now in a higher league. But other than trading in a short-sleeved polo for the occasional rain jacket and hat, not much about his approach or philosophies have changed.
Upon being hired, the first thing he did was tweet quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, “We’ll turn this team around. Need you to buy in. I promise it works. Just saw Avatar. 3-D. Awesome.”
Sticking with his motto “always compete”, he promptly went out and acquired Charlie Whitehurst. His reasoning was that “competition breeds quality” and this applies to everyone – even the team’s leader. He and Hasselbeck later settled things “competing” on a basketball court.
At Notre Dame the players pound a sign before each game that reads “play like a champion today.” In Seattle they pound a sign that says “I’m in” before each practice. Meaning, when you enter the practice facility you give everything you've got for the next hour and 45 minutes.
Call it juvenile, call it beneath grown men, but even if the players seem iffy about his antics, they won't express it. It violates another one of Carrol’s rules: “No complaining, no whining”.
But more than that, six games into his tenure, his team appears to be responding.
A sloppy win and an ankle injury to his starting left tackle may have prevented him from getting overly excited on Sunday after his team’s 22-10 win over the Arizona Cardinals, but whether by default or by truly coming together as a team, the Seahawks are leading the NFC West at 4-2.
The team received a rousing endorsement from a man who had turned down the opportunity to coach them, Tony Dungy. He declared them the best team in the NFC.
While an uncertain debate could be formed over the Seahawks' current standing, one thing is clear: The Seahawks are not beating themselves with mistakes and are playing sound, team football.
By playing in the NFC West where nine wins may be their magic number -- the total of games the Seahawks have won the previous two seasons -- Carroll’s team has played their way into the driver’s seat.
Quite an accomplishment. Before the season, many looked at Seattle and thought they should rebuild.
So what will it take to win the NFC West? With the schedule in front of us, let’s break it down game by game to see how they could win each one and if Tony Dungy is really out of line. I'll discuss if Seattle has the advantage in each of their games left.