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How Pete Carroll manages player psyche in a way that many other coaches don’t

Seattle Seahawks v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

I always look back at 2010 with an irrational fondness. A year earlier, the Seattle Seahawks were coached by Jim Mora and it started out fine. We knew the team wasn’t actually very good so most of us didn’t have Super Bowl aspirations. However, when the absolute blowout losses began, Mora seemed at a loss as to what to say. While losses mounted the press conferences turned very sour and difficult.

I was a rare defender of Jim that season, saying that I understood his frustrations even as the losses kept coming and he began to call out his players publicly. One famous or perhaps just memorable occasion was when, in response to bad offensive line play, Jim Mora proceeded to beg for dirtbags, nail-eaters, or for people to “Knock someone on their ass.” The last straw for many fans was when Mora wondered why center Chris Spencer was still wearing a cast on his right hand, changing his snapping hand.

I didn’t understand how any of this negatively effected the team. It wasn’t until three weeks were left in the season when Mora began saying “This was a 4-12 team” that I began my slow journey to a deep dislike of the young football coach

Fast forward a year and the new guy Pete Carroll was relentlessly positive even in the face of losses before the Seahawks were any good. You could see his team fight and just not have enough to put it up for four quarters. Pete was such a contrast to Jim Mora, and even Mike Holmgren, who never seemed to help fans or players build the right attitudes for competition.

Pete did and in 2011 he calmed me down after three consecutive bad losses. Paraphrasing, he said something like:

“We just have to look at things and realize that, we’re okay, we’re nearly on it but things aren’t ending up in our favor. We can get this thing right, we’re so close.”

There was no blaming anyone, no attacking anyone, no bitter words to the media because of long fruitless nights in the coach’s office watching film. It was this attitude and psychology that I really started to appreciate. I wasn’t the only one, so did Tarvaris Jackson who could have sat out with a torn pectoral but elected instead to battle it out for his team and coach. This is the team that we came to know as dominant.

The unnoticed thing Pete Carroll and his coaches do is make sure the players get their shots at records; Calling a play specifically for Russell Wilson to break the rookie record for touchdown passes in a season; Another time they called several passes to Doug Baldwin around the endzone when he had the chance to break the TD receptions record for the franchise last year ... They’re not shy about exalting personal achievements.

On the flip side with Seattle’s upcoming opponent, you have Bruce Arians, a coach blaming everyone and everything for the state of his football team. He’s talked about his kicker, he’s buried his offensive line. However, most recently he took it to a whole other level when he said it was strange how the weather in Miami got worse when his team was on offense.

It started the season before though.

When Seattle went in and stomped the Arizona Cardinals 36-6. His quotes were snippy, they even included speaking on Carson Palmer’s injury. It’s been unbelievable to watch a bright man turn into an over-sensitive millenial in just fifteen or so games, but I find myself enjoying it, because the contrast allows me to continue to enjoy Carroll and his constant focus on making sure he can pull the best from his players.

This game will be tough for the Seahawks, but the possible questions about Arians’ future after this season will be strange when you consider how hot he was as a commodity after his interim job with the Indianapolis Colts in 2012.

As a close to this piece I want to ask a question: Is there one moment where you remember finally saying “Yeah, that’s my head coach. I love this guy.” Was it early? Did it take you awhile? Are you still struggling with it?

What’s your “I finally accepted Pete Carroll when,” story?