With expectations as high as ever, Pete Carroll, Seattle’s indefatigable head coach, is set to start his seventh season at the helm of the Seahawks. His six seasons have produced three NFC West titles, 2 NFC Conference titles and a Super Bowl win. And this year, there’s no reason to temper expectations. Pete addresses a few of the roster moves made in the last 72 hours and looks forward to opening the season this Sunday against the Dolphins. Here’s the full transcript of his words on Monday.
Pete Carroll at the mic
How exciting, game one, finally here with the Miami Dolphins, is the excitement getting a hold of you?
This is an enormous event coming up, opening day of the NFL season for everyone. You know the whole country gets cranked up about it. Of course we are. We work so hard to get to this point. We're very happy with how things have turned out through the off season in getting our guys together, getting ready for camp, being healthy and ready to go for the season and all of that. We're really pumped up about it so it's a great event you know. It's really something special, so we're excited to be a part of it.
[Asked about the rookies and competition]
Yeah, I think it's like we've said all along, we really thought this was a great competitive roster. And we thought things could turn out and the guys could show up like this. So that's a good number. Probably more than... I don't know what other teams are doing. But for us, it's a good solid number. But it's a statement of picking the right guys and then battling when they got here and competing in camp to make it through it. It's not easy.
[Asked about DeAndre Elliott]
You can find very few plays throughout the preseason where he wasn't busting his tail and doing good stuff. He was very consistent. Very aggressive. Play making is in there. We've seen him battle with all of our guys throughout the practice. And then he capped it of with a really good film that he put together for the preseason. So I'm really excited about him.
You've got fifteen rookies in total. That's over a quarter of your roster. How is it getting all of them up to speed where they’re going to be needing to contribute...?
Sounds like a freshman class isn't it? I think it's a good statement about what we're doing and we believe in young guys. Young guys can play. And we've committed to that a long time ago and it's worked out fine for us. We'll see how these guys do. We've got to wait and see. But it's a good statement again of the process and getting guys in here that can compete and battle for spots and so I'm happy about it. Not worried about it at all.
Were you always that way with young guys?
Ever since I went to USC I was. Those days when I was in charge of personnel. From that point forward. See, the point of that is, I didn't have control of that. You know. So I'm always like, I believe that you can coach up young guys and all that. But not until you have control of who's staying and going can you really make that statement.
Tani Tupou, being one of those guys as well, getting him back?
Yeah, he did a great job. You know. He's made a terrific transition. He can play on both sides of the ball. We're excited to see him go. He's a big pounding fullback at 280, 80+. And you know, he's made a transition quickly. He showed it right off the bat though. It wasn't like he had to...it took him a long time. He made good statements early on so we were excited about him throughout. And he didn't do much of it in college. You know, I asked Coach Pete (Chris Petersen) about that. He hadn't done a lot, but he'd done some, and it just made sense to him.
You brought in a couple of outside guys in Garrison Smith and Dewey McDonald. What did you see from them?
Both those guys just looked like they had a chance to help us. You know, we found a couple of guys. We were just trying to get a little bit better. We thought those guys would be better on the roster than other guys that we let go. And it was really just the competition of it and through the film and watching them. And it was just our evaluation process. Hopefully they'll help us.
Is Dewey going to help on special teams?
Yeah. He looks like a guy that can help us immediately on special teams. May be able to help us with DeShawn Shead who plays so much on teams and in the same kind of role. Because DeShawn's going to play a lot of snaps for us otherwise. So I'm hoping that he'll fit in nicely.
Is he a possibility to do the sort of stuff that you had in mind with Brandon Browner?
No. We're going to play him at linebacker. We're going to put him at the weak side linebacker spot and see how that looks. He can certainly play safety for us. He's already done it in a very similar system that we already can recognize. So I told him that I know you can play safety. I want to see what you can do here to add to the competition at this spot.
Who are some of the guys on the roster that maybe can do some of those things you had envisioned for Browner matching up with tight ends and things like that?
Well we're fortunate in that DeShawn Shead can do a little bit of everything. And so he's played safety, and he's played corner, he's played nickel. So DeShawn gives us that guy that if we want to match up a corner on a tight end that's a big producing guy, that's the way we can go and we have a real nice flexibility with our guys. Jeremy (Laine) gives us that flexibility too and so does Tharold (Simon).
Jordan Hill, what happened to him?
He couldn’t stay healthy, he just couldn’t stay healthy and unfortunately he wasn’t able to put his best foot forward and other guys did well. And really, this is a bigger statement about putting Quinton Jefferson. He really has come to us and he can play 5 technique and 3 technique and be a contributor in the rush team as well as an inside guy. It was just a guy beating another guy out because of availability and hard work and all that. So I really think it’s more about “Q” than its anything else.
What do you need to see about Jimmy Graham this week?
We’re going one day at a time. He’s pumped up about it. We’re going one day at a time with the thought that he’s going to play - that’s our thought. We’ll find out how that works out with no goal in mind at this point really we’re just going to do it and see what that means. He’s doing that so that he practices at his highest level and he really pushing it so we can see. It’s very similar how we did Thomas (Rawls), so we’ll see what that means at the end of the week. We’ll just take it one day at a time then one week at a time. I have no expectation that he's going to play this week. I'm not counting on that happening. I'm just counting on coming out and having a really good day Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and then we'll see what happens from there.
[Asked about team captain voting]
Yes we did. On offense, Russell Wilson is captain again. On defense Kam Chancellor was voted captain. And on special teams Jon Ryan and DeShawn Shead were voted in as captains. Those votes were all from the players.
Was it, Troymaine Pope, was it a hard decision letting him go?
Yeah, he was a really good player, he was a really nice player. We liked our running backs, we're in good shape at our spot right there. But he did have really good pre-season and he was a great find. We'll see what happens with the Jets.
[Asked about Thomas Rawls]
Think of it where we were this time last year, you know, and what we knew about him. He had just come off the Raider game, you know, in pre-season where he had a good game stomping out on the field making some runs. And we thought maybe he might be able to help us. Well now we think he can be a terrific factor for our running game. His attitude, the great work ethic that he brings, the toughness that he brings. Just a great addition. ‘Cause we know that now. As we look at it, he's much more confident. He knows where he fits. He's ready in the next couple of weeks to get back in and play and start a game, take a game over and do all the things he can do. There's still time to take care of him as we get him back. He only carried the ball a couple times so far. But he's done everything we could ask of him. He's had an extraordinary off season of hard work. Everybody admires the heck out of him. He was here every day throughout the entire off season getting ready and just did a great job. So it's a great accomplishment for him. He looks like he's at full speed. Ready to go.
[Asked about the rapport between Rawls and the Offensive line]
Yeah. Yeah, the chemistry between the running back and the lineman is huge. Our guys think the world of him. And you'll notice, you'll watch them pick him up off the ground after a run and looking after him. That's a great relationship there.
How does the new IR rule change the cut downs for you? How did that play in this year?
It would only be a individual situation. There's a couple of situations that make a difference. Bringing guys back that are released/injured. There's a new situation there too and they're coming back a little sooner to you, the three weeks. So that's, you know you have a guy available half the time than it was before so that's good. It's good for the players too. I'm glad that that happened. That's a good rule. Get the guys back on their team so they can have a chance to make a living doing it as well and it will help them.
Were there any of the IR guys this weekend that that was impacted by? Or is that a chip down the road?
It hasn't come up. There's not a situation for us right there, right now. For the rule you're talking about.
Tanner McEvoy made it obviously. Is he healthy right now?
Yes. He really got back last week and we want to make sure and just keep him out of that game to ensure that he'd be here this week. He had an excellent pre-season for us. Very versatile football player. Really made a great statement because of what he did on special teams. I mean he's done some other things too. But on special teams, he really jumped out. And that has always been the way our young receivers have made their spot. And he did it kind of in classic fashion so we're happy to have him on there.
Could he play tight end?
Yes, he could.
Obviously the players choose the captains. But what are your thoughts on the guys that they picked?
Oh I love these guys as captains. I think, you know, there's a number of guys that could have been but the players singled these guys out. Russell is a great leader. He makes great statements of who he is and who we are and represents us beautifully whenever. There isn't a finer guy to have as your captain than Kam Chancellor. He is the epitome of what you're looking for in all ways and everybody knows it which is a good part of that. John Ryan continues to get recognized by our guys for all the great work he does and the leadership that he brings. And then to recognize a guy like Deshawn Shead too. That's a great statement of the program. You know, there was a few years back, he was one of these 7 or 8 guys who were here on the practice squad and worked his way all the way through it. Just with great heart and stick-to-itiveness and toughness and all that. He's been elevated to a point where he's a captain. That's a great statement by the young man that he is.
What does having Kam here at the start [do for you]?
It's a big boost for us, he's a great leader, he's always been a great leader, he's a terrific player as well and the combination of what he brings in the play on the field is really special to us and we're thrilled to have him.
With so many rookies you have to rely on in-season development for these guys, what's the difference maker to get these guys to produce sooner than later?
Well, it's already started, you know, it's underway... we want our guys to fit in, as early as we can, and so we try to find things that they can do well, and get them on the field and and let them contribute to us. The sooner they start contributing and feeling the confidence that they do add something, the faster they develop, it's really the way it's been. And then somewhere around halfway through the season you've got guys that are very comfortable with playing. You’ve brought your guys into the fold and I think that's always helped us strength-wise and productivity-wise at the end of football seasons and it's an important element as you build your roster throughout the season. But we got to play them to find that out. And you got to work them into that to have access to those guys.
Jarran Reed couldn't go with you the last couple of games. What did you see from him, and what do you expect?
Oh, he's a terrific, just like we saw, I mean he proved it when he got out here, he's a terrific run player. He's a great technician. Really tough. Great attitude. And he practiced today so he'll be back in action. He has terrific instincts. The savvy that he brings is special. He makes special plays, kind of feeling where the blocks are coming and where the ball carrier is going, that not everybody makes. And so I think he's a big improvement for us. With our big guys inside, that's a pretty good mix we can go with right now. And he can play nose tackle and 3 technique.
Has Nick Vannett progressed?
He's still working at it. He's the one guy that really couldn't practice today. It's like day to day, week to week kind of thing here. If he can get back by the end of this week running around. He's doing some of the running now. He won't make it this week. We won't play him this week. But after that, next week he's got a chance.
[Asked about right tackle competition]
Just feeling it. You know? We told you we're going to take all camp to do it. We did take all camp and figured it out. Feel good about Gary (Gilliam). The continuity from last year helps. Just his development. He's just getting started. His upside is still out there. So and I think it gives us great flexibility having J'Marcus (Webb). He'll play on both sides for us. And continue to battle to play. You know? So it's a competition in progress on both sides. Bradley (Sowell) has done a great job at the other side so far in camp. But we'll keep working our guys and making sure that we're doing the right thing with them. But right now I thought Gary had a good finish to his camp and he's ready to go.
You mentioned still needing to take care of Thomas. Is this a situation where you got to get the feel for how he's playing early in the game or do you go in with a certain number of snaps?
Just progress. Just we'll just make progress with him. Don't want to rush him. This is his second preseason game, you know in a sense, as far as relative to the other guys. So we'll see how he does. And I'd love for him to carry the ball quite a bit in this game and then we'll know where we stand going into the next week. It's just really bringing him along properly and carefully. We want to make sure we take care of him.
[What have you seen from C.J. Prosise?]
He's a talented football player. You know. It was really exciting to see what he did on special teams last week. He made some big plays and really showed his heart and his athleticism in another area. There really isn't anything that he hasn't done well. Very smart. He really spent a good appropriate amount of time studying while he was down so that it didn't hurt him in terms of his assignments and principles and protection and things like that. He did a very good job. So we haven't seen anything that we don't like. I mean he's really a complete football player.
How do you think the team has adjusted to Marshawn not being here this year?
I think we're fine. I think we've been fine for a long time.
What was the decision cutting Will Tukuafu?
Will Tukuafu. That decision?
He didn't make it this week.
You brought Justin Hamilton back to the practice squad?
Yeah, he made it back today. He’ll be back on the practice squad.
I enjoy Michael Bennett’s interviews because there’s absolutely no sugarcoating. I don’t ever feel the need to guess about what he really thinks. Michael talks candidly about the team’s strong culture of trust and dialogue. He also gives us a surprising tidbit about who the best athlete was at Texas A&M while he was there. Hint: he’s a Dolphins quarterback!
Michael Bennett at the mic
Mike you’ve talked in the past about how you’re kind of a game historian of the NFL and you like looking back. The way you guys have gone the last four years, winning two NFCs [is this season a chance to cement your status?]
I think we’ve got a lot of great players and a lot of people that’s going to be one day in Canton and I think if we continuously do what we’ve been doing, just focus on winning the game, I think because we focus on every game at a time, we never look too far ahead of the season and we focus on that game and we dominate that game. So our legacy is just one game at a time and I think that’s how we’ve been able to be at the top of the game right now. I think we’re not going to try and focus on having that legacy right now. We’re going to let the writers be the people that determine if we have a legacy or not.
I know you were getting some treatment last week how it feeling?
I feel great, I feel great I got a new toe you know so I feel real good.
Is it more of an issue to deal with now? Throughout the years than it was initially?
I think at this point of my career. I think injuries are just a part of the game. I think there's players that can play through injuries and there's some players that can't. I think that I've proven I can play through whatever pain I have and that's why I continuously do. You'll never tell the difference. I always play as hard as I can. That's all that matters.
Is this sort of a schedule maintenance thing or?
I always go out and try to get my toe to see a specialist. Make sure everything's good and it's just a scheduled thing and it always works out really well.
How far back does this issue go? How long have you had the toe issue?
I don't know. Eight years? So a long time.
What do you need to do during the week? In season to kind of get ready?
No practice. [laughter]
What do they call it? What's the name of?
I don't know what they call it. Ballerina toe.
You came into this league as an undrafted guy. Ton of them on this rosters. Do you feel like you guys have kind of a certain edge of being undrafted ...?
I think. I think we have an edge. I think we got that hunger. I think when you have guys who's on draft date guys who have been in the middle round you tend to have a certain amount of hunger for the game. I think a lot of guys are hungry for success. This team breaths hunger. The way Coach (Pete) Carroll talks about competition. All competition is is somebody that wants to eat more than the next person. That's how it is on this team. I think we breathe that to the young guys. I think it goes off, and the guys that leave here you see them on different teams you still see their hunger. And so I think the undrafted guys are really the guys that show the team in draft of how to work really hard. You see Doug Baldwin, you see all these guys who are like that from Bradley Sowell to tackle, me, so many different guys that have worked really hard to be where they're at.
There are fifteen rookies in this roster. Seven...
I hate rookies, but keep going.
How do you get them up to a level where they can help you contribute and be part of this?
I think you take it one step at a time. I think a lot of times people look at rookies and they expect them to be on the level where Richard Sherman is; they're expected to be on the level of Earl Thomas or Kam (Chancellor). You've got to realize that you got to take it one day at a time man. It's baby steps for these guys. For some of these guys who put 10,000 hours in. And so these guys they're just starting their journey. And all they can do is sit back and learn and learn how to play the game. The great thing about it is that on our team, you don't have to go watch other players. You've got the greatest of the greatest right here in front of you. You could just watch and see how they do it and then you could just learn from them. On other teams you've got to watch other players. You don't have to do that. We don't have to go watch J.J. Watt or whoever it is, Patrick Peterson. You don't have to do that. We got guys that's the best at what they do. So the rookies got a good chance of learning from all these guys.
Michael, what does it mean for the defense to have Kam from the start of the season this year?
I think it's great. Kam is the best at what he does. Him here as the enforcer, he's everything. He's the captain of our team. You know, he does everything right. He's just a special talent. We're lucky to have a teammate like him and he's done a great job of getting back in shape doing everything. I think nobody has ever lost faith in him and I think that's where we are right now.
What's it like having Tony McDaniel back in the lineup? It seems like he's about as good as he's ever been.
Yeah, T Mac is...I call him the Jolly Bean Giant. And he's just a giant of a man out there. If he was an X-Man he’d be a mutant. And he's just out there. He holds up those double teams. He plays the game like it's supposed to be played. An 11-year vet from being undrafted. He definitely knows how to work hard. And he understands the game. And I think when you have a guy who understands the game, it makes it a lot easier. You don't have to tell him a lot because he's been through a lot from being 3 Technique, being Nose, to End; he just plays the game at a high level. And we've won a lot of games with T Mac. He knows this system. Obviously he's part of the big three. He came here he won the championship.
Mike, what'd you think of Jeremy Lane following (Colin) Kaepernick's lead and taking a seat during the anthem?
I think it's his right to be able to protest. There are a lot of issues in America that people are starting to recognize. I think people have recognized it before. But I think with social media and the things that are out there, media outlets, everybody has a chance to show what is really going on, and their ideas, and having a chance to really protest what they think is wrong with America.
Hey, that's what it's about. It's about people having that right to have their voice and I think it's cool Jeremy Lane is doing what he wants to do. Obviously there's so much going on right now in America. Football's just a small part of what we do. At the end of the day, we'll be football players for twelve years or ten years, whatever it is, but at the end of the day we're still minorities, black men in America and that's what we're gonna be for the rest of our life. And if you want to protest about things that are going on, that's fine.
Do those conversations come up to you guys even in the locker room or at dinner or whatever?
I think those conversations come up every day. It's very relevant right now. It's been relevant for years but I think now, like I said, it's seen on cameras, it's seen on... There's so many ways to see videos and I think people are just seeing it more. And it's not just the African-American players, it's the white players too. They all see it. And we talk about it and it's good. It's good that we can have a conversation about it and people don't get angry and people understand where people are coming from and you just understand the sides, both sides of it.
Does the coaching staff ever, I mean, are those things incorporated into meetings and things like that?
I think coach Carroll is definitely understands that there's...what's going on. And I think he wants us to be very cautious - not cautious, but to pay attention to what's going on and what's going on to society. A lot of times we start our meetings about things that are going on in the world. Whether it's CNN or whether it's politics or things, sports around the world, we're always talking about something. And I think that's how we stay human as athletes. We still have that feeling of what's going on. So we talk about it within our coaching staff or in our coaching rooms. And it's just something that we should always talk about. We should always want to be more human and be more humane.
Does that build a bond...
Yeah, I think it does. It builds a bond when people are able to talk and communicate. I think a lot of times, you look at marriages or whatever it is, whenever there's failed communication, there's not good communication. And that relationship won't be good. I think that because we communicate so well as a team, I think that tends to help us where we are during the season, because we trust each other. We feel each other. We feel each other's pain. And we know each other's kids, we know what's going on in each other's lives. And I think that make you have a special bond with your teammates.
How much are you looking forward to playing a game that actually means something this weekend?
Oh man, I was just talking about the game of life. Tonight's game night at my house, I got to play Connect Four and I just wont let my daughter win, I just refuse to let her win. Every game matters and it's just cool, it's the first game. I get a chance to go against (Ryan) Tannehill obviously - he was in school when I was in school. He was a receiver though. So I always wanted to hit him and now he's playing quarterback for the Miami Dolphins - my first time. It's just a good game, when you go out to Century Link and you feel that vibe of what that stadium is going to be like that first week. Traffic is going to be crazy, so fans, leave early. It's going to be a fun day.
What kind of guy was Tannehill in college?
Actually Tanehill was the best athlete at our school, better than Von (Miller) better than me. My brother, you know, would argue that. But Tannehill was a good...one of the best athletes I've ever seen. He ran 4.4. He could do every type of dunk. And he was just cool. He was just a smooth cool guy. I always liked Tannehill.
That's like the nicest thing you've ever said about him?
Yeah, I like Tannehill, he went to the same school as me. But I'm not going to like him on Sunday. That's a whole other story. But I like him as a guy. He was always a good guy to me.
What do you tell the rookies about the game experience on Sundays?
I tell the rookies man, approach the game, just approach the game like every game. I don't want them to feel like that it's so big in the NFL that it's going to be overwhelming. I just want them to approach it like they approach practice but with a little bit more intensity. Have that same focus. Do everything you do. Because a lot of guys, when the lights come on, they can't do what they did in practice. And I think sometimes guys make the game too big. So I want them just to do the things that they've been doing in practice. The things that they dominated here, they just take it over to Century Link. It's just, the only difference between here and now is there's a lot of people over there. So just keep the game the same.