Because we're going so in-depth into the Green Bay model of roster building and all that here, I wanted to provide a little background on the subject. John Schneider, in case you weren't paying attention, spent the preceding eight seasons in the Green Bay Packers organization, first as a personnel analyst to GM Ted Thompson, then later as Director of Football Operations in 2008, before being hired as General Manager by the Seahawks in January 2010.
Tim Ruskell had resigned a month or so earlier, and after then-Seahawks CEO Tod Leiweike tried and failed to hire Mike Holmgren and/or Tony Dungy to act as president/GM of the team, he decided to take another route, firing Jim L. Mora and hiring Pete Carroll as Head Coach and Executive Vice President. That's when the Seahawks started looking for a new GM.
They found Schneider in Green Bay, and picked him over several other very qualified candidates. As Danny O'Neil put it at the time of his hiring,
"Schneider doesn't have 20 years of front-office experience like Floyd Reese, the other finalist who many around the league considered the favorite to get the job. Schneider, 38, doesn't have a "recent" Super Bowl ring like Marc Ross of the Giants or Omar Khan of the Steelers, who were also interviewed.
But what Schneider does possess is a sterling reputation for draft acumen, and after spending the past seven seasons in Green Bay, he's well-schooled in the Packers' approach to steering clear of the league's free-agent spending frenzy. He's a no-muss, no-fuss personnel guru who will now be responsible for working alongside new coach Pete Carroll. The first phase of "Extreme Makeover: The Seahawks Edition" is now complete."
Though Schneider didn't have a 'recent' Super Bowl ring, as O'Neil pointed out, the team he and Ted Thompson put together soon would have one, as Aaron Rodgers and company dominated the 2010 playoffs on their way to a Super Bowl XLV win.
To me, the biggest reason that Paul Allen, Pete Carroll, and Leiwieke decided to go with a 38-year old personnel guy named John Schneider was because they liked the model Green Bay had developed in terms of roster building, staggering of contracts, and staying away from high-priced, glitzy free agent signings. They wanted a guy with a scouting background that could completely overhaul the roster and essentially start from scratch, then maintain a young roster in a similar fashion the Green Bay Packers are doing. From my point of view, why else would they have hired Schneider, in all honesty?
That's just a guess, but regardless, Schneider has gone about things here in Seattle in a very Ted Thompson-esque manner.
Said Schneider, shortly after the Packers won the Super Bowl last season, "Like any student, if you will, you try to learn from everybody. I've learned a lot about study and patience and evaluation from Ted. There's no question. Ted has always been like an older-brother figure in the business..."
"I think every organization is different; every path is a little different. When people talk about blueprint, yeah, obviously we'd love to be young and talented and fast; yeah, we want to have the depth they have, we want to have the speed they have, the versatility."
"Our motto here is, we're competing every day. So we're going to take advantage of every opportunity we can in terms of evaluation and acquisition. And with that, also being able to fix our deficiencies as quickly as we can. Or if we make mistakes along the way, to be able to compensate for those mistakes as quickly as we can."
"You have to have a very good pulse for your team, and constantly be evaluating your team and know who's going to fit and who's not going to fit. I would say one of Ted's biggest strengths and one of the biggest things I've learned from him - because he's a former player - is just the importance of the locker room and team chemistry."
As Davis laid out over the last few weeks, Ted Thompson builds through the Draft, rarely makes forays into free agency, and relies on developing talent within. Green Bay, today, has 45 players on its 53 man roster that Thompson originally drafted or acquired directly after the draft in rookie free agency. Only four players on the roster have logged significant snaps for another NFL team.
In Schneider and Carroll's total rebuild, they've been forced to expedite the process a little by signing some free agents, but by and large these players have been young, athletic players with a lot of upside, ie Sidney Rice and Zach Miller.
Right after this year's Draft, John Schneider said, "So, you can't fix everything in one Draft. You gotta put together, two, three of these things and then you know, start supplementing and have a real nice, young core of you know, young, tough, smart, competitive, fast guys."
"If we put together a nice Draft, [add] a couple nice free agents, re-do some of our guys together, then yeah, we'll be on our way. [Next year, we'll] add another Draft to that and we'll be on our way to the motto we had at Green Bay, where we don't have to go outside the house."
"Things are positive right now, but we've got a long way to go. If we put two more solid Drafts together we'll be on our way to a team like that. I want us to get to the point where we're a consistent Championship-caliber team, where every year guys want our players. We'd rather grow with aggressive style players with size and toughness."
As for the Draft, as Davis pointed out, under Ted Thompson, Green Bay has averaged 9.7 picks each year over seven seasons, including ten picks this last year after winning a Super Bowl with one of the youngest rosters in the NFL.
Is that part of the Schneider methodology? Going back a little bit, I found this quote from when Schneider was on with Mitch Levy directly after this year's Draft -
"[This Draft] was about trying to address our depth on both the offensive and defensive line, and then continually adding depth throughout. We wanted to get bigger at receiver. We wanted to get bigger at the corner position. And we were able to do those things.
I was hoping we could move back at some point. I was hoping to pick at least nine or 10 times. Ten would have been great, because we felt really good about some of the stuff we had from the fourth round to the seventh round. And when drafts get over, everybody blows off the seventh-round picks, but when you're sitting there and you actually have a lot of guys on your board, those are hard decisions - they're not blow-off decisions at all."
Related to all this, one question that could be raised is who is in charge and who is ultimately responsible for the on-field product? The Pete Carroll & John Schneider partnership is a fairly unique one in the NFL, and their synergistic and collaborative relationship has received some fanfare. So who makes the decisions, ultimately? Pete Carroll is the Executive Vice President and thus, technically Schneider's boss, and the final say on all roster moves falls to him.
From what I understand though, through interviews with both Carroll and Schneider, and from Scott Enyeart's insider take on the situation, essentially it works like this (as Scott puts it):
John Schneider sets the buffet, and Pete Carroll chooses what goes on the plate.
Carroll provided one example of this method on Tuesday on the Brock and Salk show, when he talked about Brandon Browner. Salk asked him where they found Browner, and Carroll replied "I don't know where that came from. It came out of nowhere to me. I don't know how our guys came back to his name. John came by, said "Brandon Browner, he played at Oregon State," I said "Oh I know who that is - what's he been doing?" He said, "he's been in Canada for four years." So I said, "bring him in".
Some random thoughts from that Schein/Schneider interview from yesterday, as brought to us by Glen Peer.
The biggest difference this year over last:
"A team that is tougher, and more competitive than we were last year. Pete and I are most proud of the way guys are fighting. We want a bunch of guys who will go out in the parking lot and play."
"Last year we couldn't have stayed in a fight and exchange punches with a team like Baltimore."
"This is a team that's gonna go out and punch you in the face, and we weren't that last year, well we did in the Saints game...this team has the identity we're looking for now we just gotta get the talent there"
On the QB situation:
"I'm never going to be comfortable with that position, and I told Tarvaris that when he got here. "Every single draft we'll be looking at guys, and so far I'm pleased."
"We knew this was the year to move on from Matt [Hasselbeck]. With the lockout, this was our year to take some blows at the QB position, and we knew we need a guy who could move and take some shots behind our line, and I'm not saying Matt couldn't have done it but tarvaris knowing the system was an easy decision for us"
"Toughness, and mental toughness, players love him, strong locker room presence, people can say whatever they want about the guy but he's one of the toughest QBs I've ever been around."
On Kam Chancellor:
"Kam has become our enforcer. Our corners are big and do have hands on them a lot but thats our mentality and WRs and QBs will be thinking about that...forces the qbs to put the ball in tight spots"
Schneider credits Marshawn Lynch's weight loss to what he's done the last 5 weeks
On Doug Baldwin:
Baldwin is "Smart, tough, and reliable - that's what we've been looking for, and when we sat down and watched all the throws at him [at Stanford], that's what we saw. The cool thing about him is that he's got a 75 1/ 4" catching range so that makes him like 6'1."
Schneider then compares Baldwin to Brandon Stokely last year, and talks about how he rated him at the top of the 6th round.
They told him "your ability to come in and fit here, being like Brandon Stokley, he bought into it from day one..."
On Max Unger:
"Max Unger is really an underrated guy here in this program, the guys here before us did a great job getting him in the 2nd round so he's been great."
On what comes next for JS:
"Free agency meetings start next week, bowl games, QBs, CBs specifically noted to watch in bowl games, then all star games. Draft meetings start 4-5 days before Super Bowl, and we carry that through Combine and Draft.. We need to also start getting some guys that are here re-done, and we'll figure out heading to FA what the budget we have is and go from there"