I'm beginning to get the feeling that a day won't go by this season in Seattle where the quarterback position won't be a hotly contested topic. If fans aren't arguing about who should, or shouldn't, be the starter in 2011, they're debating about who should be drafted as the "Quarterback of the Future" (QBOTF) in 2012. The later has been a point of contention after Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll appeared on 710ESPN's "Kevin Calabro Show" and made the following comments at about the 13:40 mark:
"We're not trying to make our quarterback the guy that's gotta throw the ball 40 times a game. We want a guy that manages the offense really well, and can keep us moving and get us into the best plays, that allows the whole team to function.
All the way back to the USC days that's all we've ever asked of our quarterbacks. They won Heismans and all that, but they were always just the point guard in the offense. Even back to Carson Palmer and through [Mark] Sanchez, all those guys, and that's what we'd like to see right now."
First of all, I think Pete's comments were pretty clear. But for whatever reason debates have broken out on message boards and Twitter over one little word.
The word "manages" stirs up a lot of very strong feelings for people when it comes to describing quarterback play. There is a perception that in the NFL "game managers" won't win your franchise Super Bowls, though I'm sure Trent Dilfer, Brad Johnson and even Eli Manning beg to differ.
But do those guys even resemble the type of quarterback Pete was describing?Now, just so we are clear, the following is neither an endorsement or disagreement with Pete's approach. It is simply an attempt to clarify and better describe Carroll's philosophies and methods based on what I know and have learned from Carroll, and about his approach to the game over the last 10 years.
Earlier this summer, Carroll addressed some of the top high school quarterbacks in the country in Malibu, Calif. at the Elite 11 QB competition. Carroll was invited by camp coaches Trent Dilfer and Yogi Roth to open the weeklong camp with a speech about what it means to be an elite quarterback. I didn't get to hear the speech myself, but ESPN saved the day when they aired the following from that night:
"All we've ever tried to do with our quarterbacks is make them perform like they're capable of performing."
"I'm looking for the best competitor."
"I'm looking for the guy that's gonna compete. It might not be the strongest arm, it might not be the tallest guy, it might not be the fastest guy. I want the guy that's gonna battle for me, day in and day out, moment to moment I'm gonna know who he is, and we're gonna go win championships."
Seems pretty clear, right? All Carroll is saying that he doesn't wanna throw 40 times a game, and he doesn't mind if his quarterback has some mechanical flaws. Some of the best quarterbacks in the game have physical limitations - Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are so slow you could time their 40's with a sun dial, Philip Rivers has an awkward release and Matt Ryan has been knocked for a lack of arm strength. But Carroll would take any of them in a heartbeat, and who wouldn't?
To Carroll, those guys all "manage the offense really well". They play within their skill set, and maximize their strengths. Just because you and I wouldn't necessarily use the phrase "game manager" to describe them, doesn't mean that description is totally inaccurate in the context Carroll uses the term.
If you think Pete doesn't want an elite quarterback, you're mistaken. As he said in the Carlabro interview, Carroll recruited and signed elite QB's at USC, and had great success in doing so. 2 Heisman winning QB's, 2 All-Americans, 5 NFL Draft picks (Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart, Matt Cassel, John David Booty, Mark Sanchez), 3 1st round draft picks (4 once Matt Barkley is drafted); and he would (and did) describe everyone of them as a game manager. You could conclude from that resumé that Pete understands how to evaluate talent at the quarterback position. You don't win those accolades by conservatively handcuffing your quarterback, you win them by being efficient and calculated in your offensive approach.
Obviously, the college game is different than the NFL, but as I said, the words in this space aren't to support or disprove his philosophy, they're to better explain how Carroll approaches the quarterback position.
But if you don't wanna take my word for it, take Pete's.
In an interview this spring with 950 KJR Carroll said the following about how he values quarterbacks:
On if he’s a coach that is (theoretically speaking) willing to ‘mortgage the future’ in order to acquire the right quarterback even if it costs one or more first round picks or what not in order to make the acquisition:
"For that position yes. If he’s the right guy and can really lead you and command the position like the great players have been able to do, then it’s totally worth it. That player being available is a whole different question — is there somebody out there that is like that? But it is so important that whatever it takes to get the guy, you get him in my mind. And John feels the same way about that. But whether there’s somebody available to even have the chance to go that far, that’s a whole different story. But yeah, I think that position stands out above all of the rest so much so that if you’ve got a guy that’s been there and know can do it, that can sit and matchup with the players that you have, then you’ve got to do what you can do to go get it done."
His words, not mine. That doesn't sound like a coach who doesn't see the value of an elite quarterback, even if he calls him a "game manager".
Danny put together another piece on Bill Walsh's quarterbacking philosophy and his influence on Pete Carroll that relates to this piece as well, check it out here.