To me, the phrase “In John and Pete we trust” is shorthand for “John Schneider and Pete Carroll turned the Seahawks into one of the best franchises in the league and have earned the benefit of the doubt.”
The phrase seems to have fallen out of favor recently - and is sometimes used derisively.
But there is still meaning in those words for me.
Going back to the beginning
After agreeing to terms two days earlier, Pete Carroll was officially hired as the head coach of the Seattle Seahawks on January 11th, 2010. John Schneider joined him in Seattle a week later and the duo got to work on rebuilding a team that had gone 5-11 the previous year.
Together, John and Pete made an NFL-high 284 roster transactions their first season. One of those transactions brought Marshawn Lynch to Seattle in return for a 4th round pick in 2011 and a 5th round pick in 2012.
Greatest Seahawks trade ever?
2010 was also the year that John and Pete (JS/PC) drafted Russell Okung (#6 overall) and Earl Thomas (#14) in the 1st round. And Golden Tate in the 2nd round. And Bam Bam Kam in the 5th.
Seattle started the 2010 season with 4 wins in the first 6 games, then lost 4 of their next 5. The team went 2-3 in December to finish 7-9, but their Week 17 victory over the Rams, 16-6, gave them the division title and made them the first playoff team in league history with a losing record.
FUN FACT: Charlie Whitehurst made his second career start in the division-clinching game. Here’s an article that came out after the game: Laugh all you want
SIDE NOTE: The 2010 season is a great example of why I tend not to complain about the Seahawks’ penchant for close games the last few years.
Here are the point differences from each game that season: +25, -17, +7, -17, +3, +12, -30, -34, +18, -15, -18, +17, -19, -16, -23, +10.
Both the Giants (34 points) and the Bucs (23 points) soundly spanked the Hawks. Both finished the season with a 10-6 record (i.e. 3 games “ahead” of Seattle).
And both watched the playoffs on TV.
Of course, as a division winner, the Seahawks DID “deserve” to be there.
Even if no one thought they had a chance of winning.
And why would they?
We all know what happened. We’ve told our kids about what happened. One day, they’ll tell their kids about what happened.
So why am I retelling this story?
No. 1: Because it means I can share this NFL.com link for a certain unforgettable play.
No. 2: Because it means that I can quote Matt Hasselbeck:
What do you call the person who graduated medical school with the lowest GPA?
No. 3: Because that season and that team and that game and THAT RUN laid the groundwork for “In John and Pete we trust.”
Over the years, “In John and Pete we trust” became the go-to response anytime the Seahawks did something that made others doubt the Hawks and/or that made us 12s scratch our heads.
“In John and Pete we trust” was a slogan, a mantra, and a badge of honor all rolled into one.
Building a team with a historic defense
2011 was, in some ways, a step backward. Seattle again finished 7-9, but this time they ended up four games behind the division-winning 49ers.
Looks were deceiving though.
From 2010 to 2011, the defense improved from #25 in points allowed to #7.
How? The answer lies in Seattle’s 2011 draft class which included, among others, K.J. Wright (R4), Richard Sherman (R5), and Byron Maxwell (R6). And in JS/PC’s decision to sign a player from the Canadian Football League - one Mr. Brandon Browner.
Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor in 2010 + Richard Sherman, Byron Maxwell, and Brandon Browner in 2011 = the founding members of the Legion of Boom.
From 2012 to 2015, Seattle’s defense was considered the best in the league; allowing the fewest points an unprecedented four straight seasons. Some argue that it was one of the best defenses of all-time.
Drafting their franchise quarterback
2012 brought the addition of Bruce Irvin (R1), Bobby Wagner (R2), and Mr. Russell Carrington Wilson (R3).
Draft experts were quick to dismiss Seattle’s selections, with much of the criticism pointed at Irvin and Wilson. There was a report at the time that one GM had said Wilson “would be lucky to be Seneca Wallace.”
WORTH NOTING: NFL.com’s “report card” was one of the more favorable ones that year. They gave Seattle a C+ for their draft class, said DE Bruce Irvin was a questionable pick, called QB Russell Wilson “a reliable reserve”, and considered RB Robert Turbin the Seahawks’ best pick.
Seattle finished half a game behind San Francisco in 2012, made the playoffs as the 5-seed, and beat Washington in the wildcard round.
In the division round, Seattle spotted the Atlanta Falcons a 20-0 halftime lead.
The Seahawks mounted a comeback behind their rookie quarterback, their bruising running back, and the Legion of Boom.
Seattle took the lead, 28-27, with 30 seconds left in the game.
The Falcons kicked a field goal as time expired and sent the young Hawks home with both a loss and a sense of purpose.
The 2013 season
Seattle finished atop the NFC with a 13-3 record, used their home field advantage to dispatch the Saints and the 9ers.
And the Seahawks sent a freakin’ message!
If there was a mercy rule in football, the game would have been over at halftime. Well, 12 seconds into the second half, at any rate - - after Percy Harvin took the kickoff (on a bounce) and split the Broncos defenders on his way to an 87-yard touchdown that staked the Hawks to an insurmountable 29-0 lead.
It was 36-0 before Denver got on the board.
Final score: 43-8. A Super Bowl rout over the most prolific offense in NFL history.
FUN FACT: Only four players that were on the roster that John and Pete inherited in 2010 were still on the roster when Seattle won Super Bowl 48: Max Unger, Red Bryant, Jon Ryan, and Brandon Mebane.
The 2014 season
Second verse, same as the first.
12-4 record, division title, NFC’s #1 seed, home wins in the playoffs over both the Panthers (31-17) and the Packers (28-22, in overtime).
Seattle vs. New England in Super Bowl 49
New England scores first, but Seattle answers. New England goes up 7 just before halftime. Seattle starts on their own 20 with 0:31 left in the 2nd quarter and comes out firing!
Four plays and 25 seconds later, Seattle has the ball on the New England 11-yard line. The game is tied at the half, 14-all.
Seattle builds a 10-point lead heading into the 4th quarter and is well-positioned to repeat as Super Bowl Champions.
New England takes the lead with 2:06 to play.
After one of the most amazing catches in Super Bowl history, Seattle has 1st and goal on the 5 with 1:06 on the clock, down 4.
Marshawn goes Beast Mode but is stopped at the 1.
2nd and goal with 30 seconds left and 1 timeout. The Seahawks line up, Wilson takes the snap, and . . .
Seattle scores the touchdown, wins the game, and hoists the Lombardi trophy a second time.
Fast forward six years
John and Pete have certainly made a number of high-profile mistakes since coming to Seattle - and many of them have occurred in the last six years.
Questionable trades, dubious signings, and bewildering draft picks.
No appreciation for the “value” of an offensive line.
Many would argue that this is readily apparent despite the Seahawks having used 17 draft picks on the O-line since 2010 (8 of them in the first 3 rounds) - and converting 3 defensive tackles as well.
Unwarranted faith in certain players and coaches, often coupled with too much faith in other players and coaches.
Predictability - and a frustrating inability to adapt in real-time.
Exceptionally poor clock management.
A 3-5 record in the playoffs.
Shall I go on?
Accountability starts at the top
Fans want John and Pete to be held accountable. Believe me, I know; I’m a fan too.
But here’s the thing . . .
John and Pete have been held accountable.
By the owner.
And they both got contract extensions.
Pete’s extension ties him to the Seahawks through 2025 and is likely to end with a retirement party.
Schneider’s extension will keep him in Seattle through the end of the 2027 draft.
At this point, ownership has basically said:
In John and Pete we trust!
Heading into the 2021 season, the Seahawks are in a tight spot.
The depth chart has been decimated by free agency.
The lower salary cap makes roster construction a lot more difficult than it has been in the past. And, in at least one case (RB Chris Carson), the cap pressure has resulted in the team breaking with tradition and using void years.
Seattle also has precious little draft capital.
When the offseason started, the Seahawks only had 4 picks.
Then they traded one of them to the
Oakland Las Vegas Raiders for Guard Gabe Jackson.
So now Seattle has a league-low three draft picks; only one of which is in the first two days (#55 overall).
However, the team has been been in tight spots before - and that’s even if we pretend that “the Behring years” never happened (much like the end of SB49).
The Seahawks finished 5-11 under Jim Mora the season before John and Pete arrived.
Fortunately, it’s been mostly “full speed ahead” since the dynamic duo settled in in Seattle. (helped in no small part by the L.O.B. and a certain “diminutive” quarterback)
But there are some rocks on the shoreline and the waves are crashing against the Seahawks’ boat.
Does the team have a plan?
Do John and/or Pete have a plan?
And if they both have a plan, is it the SAME plan?
Who’s in charge?
The public appearance of the relationship between John and Pete is an interesting one.
Take Seahawks.com as an example.
Here is what the team’s website says about its General Manager:
In his role, John Schneider “manages all aspects of the Seahawks roster and draft process while working collaboratively with Pete Carroll in all facets of the football operations department.”
John’s title is listed as Executive Vice President / General Manager.
And here is what the team’s website says about its Head Coach:
First off, Pete isn’t listed on the team’s Management page - which is sort of interesting.
But his coaching bio lists him as Executive VP of Football Operations / Head Coach and says that he became the 8th coach in Seahawks history after “one of the most successful runs in USC history in the college ranks.”
Looking just at the profiles on the team’s website, it appears as if John Schneider is the one that is in charge.
And yet . . .
Given the history of the JS/PC relationship here in Seattle, it would be easy to assume that the Seahawks’ decision tree has had, still has, and likely always will have two names at the top - and that one of them (not John’s) is at least slightly higher than the other.
There were, of course, some pretty interesting reports coming out of the league’s media arm (and other places) before John signed his extension last month.
And there was some speculation at the time (maybe still?) that perhaps Seattle now had a “true” GM (i.e. one that outranks the coach).
However, if recent reports are true that Pete is the one who “vetoed” the proposed Wilson trade with the Chicago Bears . . .
My guess is that Pete’s name is still (slash always was) the one atop the org-chart.
If so then maybe the phrase should be “In Pete and John we trust.”
It just doesn’t sound the same.
Even it if might, technically, be more accurate.
The bottom line
For me, personally, it all comes down to this:
Is “in John and Pete we trust” still something I believe?
And my answer is, “Yes.”
It’s a less enthusiastic “Yes” than it was 5 or 6 years ago, but I’m still willing to stand atop Lumen Field’s lighted trusses and scream it until my lungs burn.
That said . . .
If the front office continues to stick with the status quo then I think Pete retires after the 2025 season with just a single Lombardi trophy.
And I’m certain he wants a few more.
Stating the (somewhat) obvious
This article is both a prologue and an epilogue - so to speak - for my 9-part “If I were John and Pete” series.
That series started with the premise that the team’s ownership (i.e. Jody Allen and whoever is involved in the team-related decisions on her behalf) had clearly decided to keep the Seahawks’ wagon hitched to John and Pete.
There were reasons for the decision - many of which probably have to do with what the trustworthy twosome built here and the belief that John and Pete can lead the team to the promised land again.
And again and again and again.
That is the prologue part: Ownership made a decision; Pete is going to be Pete; John is going to be enchant and bewilder us with the draft and free agency.
C’est la vie.
Those that followed the series and read the comments know that I might have (almost certainly would have) gone a different direction if I were “ownership.”
Very specifically, I stated in a couple of the comments threads that would have replaced Pete with Eric Bieniemy this offseason rather than giving Pete an extension.
In that regard, this article is an epilogue - a reminder to myself (and hopefully others) that John and Pete have done something special here in Seattle and that they’ve earned my / our / ownership’s trust.
Thanks for reading!