On January 12, 2010, Pete Carroll held his first press conference as head coach and vice president of football operations for the Seattle Seahawks. His first words to the public as head coach of the Seahawks were "I am so fired up..." and then we found out just how fired up this guy can be.
Carroll is the "Hot Takes" of the NFL.
Five years later, Carroll has led Seattle to four playoff berths, three division titles, two NFC Championships, and could possibly add a second Lombardi to the trophy case next week. It's quite an impressive feat to put it mildly. Only three coaches in NFL history have won two Super Bowls in their first five years with a team: Don Shula, Jimmy Johnson and Bill Belichick.
Johnson, Barry Switzer, and Carroll are the only coaches in history to win a national title and a Super Bowl, but Carroll could become the first to win two of each.
These are all ridiculously impressive accomplishments but when Carroll stood at the podium that day, before he had even hired John Schneider as general manager, he basically said this would happen. You can watch the original press conference in it's entirety in the link above, but here's a quick breakdown on some of the things he said that day and if they held true.
1:50 - "I am so fired up to be here today..."
4:20 - (on raised expectations and Paul Allen's desire to win) "You're only judged by perfection ... I hope that it can be done better than it's ever been done before around (Seattle) ... I love setting our standards so high that maybe it doesn't even seem feasible and that's okay with me."
The Seahawks are on the edge of the unfeasible.
Carroll has gone 90% of the way to "Dynasty" talk for a team that was basically the San Diego Chargers a few years ago; a team that wasn't terrible, had some great and exciting seasons, but could not get over the hump and finish what they had started. Now the Seattle Seahawks are a team that people hate around the country, and that's not a bad thing. Let's put it this way: Neutral fans around the country are pulling for the Patriots.
5:25 - "As a defensive background guy, knowing we can call on the 12th man on third down, we need to take advantage. We need to make sure that we speed this thing up on the edge."
On the first part of that sentence, Carroll has certainly enjoyed a lot of success at home. The Seahawks are 31-9 at home under Carroll, the fourth-best home record since 2010, and have allowed 661 points, the second-fewest in the NFL since 2010, behind the San Francisco 49ers.
But tighten things up a bit and the advantage is even more clear.
Since 2011, the Seahawks are 26-6 at home, third-best record, and have allowed a league-low 488 points, just 15.2 points per game.
Since 2012, they've allowed 328 points at home and are 22-2. That's 91 points fewer than second-best San Francisco, tied with the Denver Broncos for the best record. This doesn't include a 4-0 home playoff record over the last two years.
But the other thing that Carroll talked about -- speed on the edge -- he probably would have asked for a little bit more from that end by this point. Michael Bennett showed his importance against the Green Bay Packers when he helped stuff Eddie Lacy on three straight plays to help Seattle get the ball back, but overall the Seahawks are just average at getting to the quarterback.
They finished 20th in sacks this season and they are 12th overall since 2012. They definitely have added some fast players on the edge, like Bruce Irvin and Cliff Avril (succeeding Chris Clemons, of course) but this team really could hit next level if more of those QB hits and hurries became losses. The strip sacks and disruptions-to-interceptions have definitely been beneficial though.
5:55 - "If you watch our team play, you're gonna see great effort. If you watch our team you're gonna see great enthusiasm. We're gonna play this game the way it's supposed to be played, like you love the game of football."
6:10 - "I wanna see a very, very tough football team. From the word 'Go' .. And I want you to see a team that plays smart."
When I think "Smart" I think of a team that protects the football. Since Russell Wilson has become the starter, the Seahawks have turned it over 51 times in 48 games. Only the Patriots (49 turnovers) have fewer. They have also forced 94 turnovers, third-most behind the Bears (96) and Pats (95.)
When I think "Tough" I think injuries and really that's not something you can control, but Seattle has managed to stay relatively healthy at key positions, even though they did place a high number of players on IR this season. It's interesting that in each of the last two years they placed someone on IR, only to have them come back with the designated-to-return tag, and we sort of forget that they were ever hurt: Russell Okung in 2013 and Jeremy Lane this season.
Sherman and Thomas's will to stay in the game against the Packers also shows a certain toughness.
6:35 - "It would be wrong for me not to mention that in our football .. We have to run the football to be successful, in our division first, and in the NFL ... It'll effect defense, it'll effect passing game, it'll help our quarterback ... You'll know more about that in the days to come, you'll understand what I'm talking about."
Carroll isn't just shooting bullshit up your butt when he talks about running the football. This isn't new. He's said it since day one and he never wavered from that position, even while every other team tried to make the running back position as loathed as the designated hitter in baseball. But Marshawn Lynch, like Edgar Martinez, has had a Hall of Fame career in Seattle.
The Seahawks are first in the NFL in rushing yards since 2011, when Lynch really got integrated into the offense. Since 2012, they have rushed for 661 more yards than second-place San Francisco.
By maintaining the fifth-highest TOP since 2012, it has helped make the defense as good as they can be, giving them rest and longer fields to defend. Certainly having Lynch in the backfield has helped Wilson, just like having Wilson has helped Lynch reach new heights over the last three seasons.
8:00 - (In regards to expectations) "We have to embrace and understand the fact that the way you practice is what makes you ... It is what gives you the chance to be a champion from now on ... Fundamentals ... "
Carroll does not agree with Allen Iverson's stance on practice. Last I checked, Carroll has more rings than Iverson.
9:20 - (In regards to evaluating talent and what he learned by recruiting some of the country's best players at USC) "They're the same guys, they're the same people, they're just a little bit older."
This is when Carroll mentions that being in charge of an entire program at USC, as compared to having little or no control of personnel decisions in New England, has helped him see what kind of control he really needs in order to be successful. And in learning more about the recruiting process and talent evaluation at USC, he's more prepared to find the guys that will be successful for his football team in Seattle.
Carroll has recruited some of the same guys he had at USC, like Malcolm Smith, Mike Williams, and Anthony McCoy, but not many. But even if a player didn't go to USC, it doesn't mean Carroll wasn't recruiting him or that he didn't want him. This is probably part of where the obsession with Percy Harvin came along, but I think we were all obsessed with the idea of Harvin.
10:50 - "The reason that I've come to (the Seahawks) is that I understand from the organization that I'll be intricately involved in all aspects of (personnel decisions.)"
One week later, Seattle hired John Schneider. Without giving Carroll the opportunity to handpick a GM, Schneider may have never been a member of the organization and that could have cost them several of their most important players today. The relationship they have, as well as the relationship they have with Paul Allen, is integral to their success.
12:10 - "This program is about competition. You'll see in all aspects of the work that we do that we will be in a relentless pursuit of a competitive edge in everything we're doing."
Carroll calls competition "the most important part" of what the Seahawks are going to be doing and again, no bullshit up your butt. Nobody gave Wilson a chance in hell of winning the starting quarterback job, but there he was in Week 1 and it wasn't a decision everybody agreed with. It ended up working out okay.
Cutting guys like Deon Grant and LenDale White also showed that if you don't perform, if you don't get with the program, you'll be gone. Few guys who have not made it in Seattle have managed to make it somewhere else.
18:15 - "(The Seahawks) have embraced my approach and the way I see things and the way I wanna do stuff in the manner that they wanna wipe the path clear and give me the clearest opportunity to bring everything I have to offer."
Goodbye Tim Ruskell, Jim Mora, and 95% of the players you thought were good.
25:22 - "What has to happen in our organization is that we have to have communication ... It is most important that I know who Aaron Curry is, to know what he's all about, so I can figure him out, so I can help him .. be the best he can be."
It wouldn't take long before Carroll found out that the best place Curry could be was Oakland. Even though Curry wasn't a Carroll pick, he's also not been afraid to cut bait with a player that he once thought he liked but turned out not to be the case. Draft picks like Chris Harper, Mark LeGree, and EJ Wilson found that out.
38:00 - "That is one of the key elements ... you gotta have a quarterback."
Carroll and Schneider took a number of low-risk moves to try and find a high-impact player, but never risked a high draft pick or a lot of money on a "maybe." The trade for Charlie Whitehurst was criticized, but it was barely a drop in the bucket, especially when you look back and see what kind of talent this organization could cull from the fifth round or the CFL. Eventually the perfect opportunity arose when Russell Wilson was available in the third round and now the Seahawks have the perfect quarterback for what they want to do.
For some reason not everyone agrees with what Seattle does -- run the football more than anyone else, play defense -- but I'm going to go out on a limb and say it's working. Pretty much everything Carroll has promised he would do is working.
In another week, those high expectations might need to be raised again.