I try and pass along comments made by John Schneider as often as possible because I think it gives us, as fans and analysts, a better idea of what he's trying to do in building out the Seahawks' roster to make it, and ultimately keep it, competitive. There are a lot of things to like about the NFL and football in general, but I've found the behind-the-scenes stuff particularly interesting - and specifically for the Seahawks, Schneider's whole 'how to build a team from scratch' example that's sort of gone on before our eyes the last few years. Obviously, it's an unfinished product, and at the end of the day he and Pete Carroll will be judged by wins and losses, but thus far I've been intrigued with Schneider's M.O. and the deep scouting ability, best practices and (at least partly) proprietary methods he's brought to Seattle.
Schneider was on with Doug Farrar and Rob Rang this weekend for their Chalk Talk program on SportsRadioKJR, and one of the first topics they broached was the Seahawks' penchant to surprise in their early-round picks. James Carpenter in 2011, Bruce Irvin in 2012, and it's almost to be expected now that Seattle will go against the grain in terms of popular opinion on value and fit.
"That's something that I could go on for hours about, " he replied as Doug and Rob asked him to talk about the Seahawks' general philosophy when it comes to drafting, "but the basic premise of our philosophy is - we preach to our staff - and not to get too philosophical with you but in society today - the easiest thing to do is to talk about what people can't do. We just think that's the easiest thing to do. The hardest thing to do is to find out what a guy's strengths are: what do you think the guy does well, tell us how you think he would fit, and tell us how you think he could accentuate those strengths once he's here, and develop those strengths."
In terms of their choice to go with Bruce Irvin in the first round this year, many people believed they were projecting a bit too much by taking him that early, especially considering he played more like a 5-tech in a 3-3-5 defense in a dissimilar role than what he'll be asked to do in Seattle. "There's no question that Bruce played inside a little bit; when he was playing he was playing in his 230's, so you know, he's going to get knocked around when he plays inside," said Schneider. "Any guy that has that kind of size is going to do that. When he's on the edge, he has that rare speed, and it fits a certain profile for us at the LEO position, so - that's a long answer, but that's really what it is."
Evidently, they believe he could 'accentuate those strengths' once he's here at LEO, and 'develop those strengths' further to fit the system. The main strength being his speed - which is of paramount importance to the elephant, or LEO position, but his ability to stop the run is something the Seahawks likely believe in and will look to improve.
Schneider went on to talk about the other end of the draft, and the team's ability in the past few seasons to hit on late round, even undrafted players, and a street free agent here or there.
"I think the passion part of it is huge with our group, and with Pete's staff," he replied. "We talk about - we have three things to talk about all the time - plan, communicate, and work. Plan, communicate, and work. Plan, communicate, and work. Plan, communicate, and work. You have to have a vision, you have to communicate that vision, then you have to work your tail off. I gave a talk to the group the other night downtown, and it was a father-son banquet, and I told them that the greatest gift that my dad ever gave me was work ethic. At the time, when I was a kid, working at a steel mill and cleaning steel and stuff like that during high school, I wasn't real excited about it. But now, I look back on it, and I feel like we can incorporate that philosophy into what we're doing.
"We're going to work work work work work, and in that - you know, watching film is kind of like reading books, ok? The more you see, the more you read, the more knowledge you have. We just say, 'we never have all the answers.' We're going to keep going, going, going, and try to figure it out, and hopefully with that, guys like Josh Portis, Jeron Johnson, Doug Baldwin, Lockette, guys like that drop into your locker room."
The decision to re-sign Marshawn Lynch to a long-term deal could be considered fairly risky, considering the short career expectancy for running backs and Lynch's particular brand of running that may invite accelerated wear and tear. As Schneider revealed, signing Lynch was more than a pure X's and O's decision.
"Well, when we got here, we talked about an identity, and creating an identity, and getting ourselves into a position where we were a consistent championship caliber football team," Schneider explained. "In order to do that in this league, you need to knock people around. You need to play strong, tough, smart, physical football."
He continued. "We thought, in acquiring Marshawn, that he would add that, not only on the field, but in the locker room as well and in the way he practices. He's done that, and you're always concerned about the way running backs don't hold up from a durability standpoint, but this guy - he is a seriously tough individual. He's the kind of guy that only knows one way to run, and that rubs off on the other guys, the other players here. It rubs off on our defense."
"So, he brings an identity for us, it was very important that we signed him to a long term deal, and we were just ecstatic to get that done before free agency started."
I think this line of thinking was similar to some of their reasoning in bringing back Red Bryant, and after hearing Schneider's comments on their purposeful and deliberate (even methodical) efforts to create and maintain a tough, physical, knock you in the teeth identity, Davis' piece on the Seahawks' identity makes that much more sense to me.
Head over the Chalk Talk podcast page to download the rest of the interview - they also hit on the Chris Clemons situation and Brian Banks' prospects in the NFL, plus Doug and Rob talk to a few other interesting guests. I really do feel like it's one of the best radio shows out there - Seahawks fans are lucky to have two national writers that are also big football X's and O's nerds in Farrar and Rang, able to bring really in-depth analysis of the Seahawks plus get access to some of the bigger names out there in Greg Cosell, Russ Lande, Peter King, John Schneider, or whoever.