Pete Carroll, John Schneider are in perfect alignment for Seahawks
Seahawks rebuilding project isn't getting the praise it deserves entering the 2012 NFL draft, and the two men leading the team are the reason why.
Seattle Times staff columnist
RENTON — It's late April once again, and the Seahawks are all cozy in the Draft Room of Brotherly Love.
John Schneider makes a joke, and Pete Carroll chuckles. Carroll meanders to making a point, and Schneider clarifies it succinctly. As the general manager and coach/vice president prepare for their third draft, their "fantastic collaboration" (former president Tod Leiweke's phrase) remains on display.
At times in the past, it felt forced. But the synergy between those two, and within an entire organization that was fractured before they arrived in 2010, is authentic. And the way they carry on in public — on occasion they're a fist bump or a man-hug away from nauseating — it can seem like a passive-aggressive middle finger to anyone who doubted they would mesh.
That's just who they are, though — refreshingly goofy, two kids clowning in class. When it comes to team building, all is progressing nicely with the remodeling Seahawks, and the sturdiness of this foundation starts with the chemistry between Carroll and Schneider. It's not just about their bond. Most important is that they have compatible philosophies.
From Carroll's competition-heavy coaching style that relies on regular infusions of youth to Schneider's thorough pursuit of talent, the two are benefiting from each other. Carroll needed this kind of general manager to make his grand dreams possible. Schneider needed to work for this kind of coach to be at his creative best in acquiring the most talent.
Together, with the help of their staffs, they've done good work so far. The Seahawks' makeover isn't being lauded as much as it should because the team has yet to break through on the field. But they're in position to do so now, and even after factoring in that the NFL is legislated for parity, it's still impressive to observe how, in only two years, the Seahawks have gone from an aging, overpriced roster with inferior athleticism and toughness to a young, aggressive squad with a promising future.
They're at least a year ahead of schedule, in terms of roster development. They can stay ahead with another successful draft this week. They haven't won anything yet, so don't get carried away. But they came up with an ideal plan, and to this point, they have executed it well.
Sixteen of the 18 players drafted under Schneider and Carroll are now on the roster. Seven of them are starters. Two of them, safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, played in the Pro Bowl last season.
Schneider has amassed quality talent through two drafts, as well as smart decisions for young players in free agency and via trade, and Carroll has shown a commitment to playing them.
"We're trying to play young guys, and we need to find out where they fit as soon as possible," Carroll said. "So, we force those guys to the front to get an evaluation on them whenever we can — preseason for sure, in camp for sure. The young guys that we draft are going to go with the first group. They're going to get shoved in there. We want to see how they fit in and how they handle it and all that, in hopes of getting the information that you need in order to make those kinds of decisions.
"It's really my job to make sure that we give guys competitive opportunities and create the situations where we can see them and get good information. If we don't do that, then I'm failing John here because we've got to figure out where these guys fit in. I'm committed to it."
As Carroll has said many times, his experience at USC changed his philosophy on what young players can handle and also how much patience he can stomach.
Asked his beliefs on young players before USC, Carroll said: "Classically, that young guys are going to get you beat and that they'll make mistakes and they'll lose it for you. One of my favorite coaches ever, Bud Grant, said one time, 'For every young guy you start, you lose a game.' That was classic, traditional thinking. I was of that mindset in classic fashion until I had to be in charge of calling all the shots, and then it just flipped in me that we don't know where we're going unless we find these guys out."
Schneider says the coaching staff's enthusiasm about coaching young players is a tremendous help to a talent evaluator. The Seahawks also are flexible about what kind of players fit into their schemes. They just want special talent, and clearly, they're finding it.
In the Draft Room of Brotherly Love, it appears there's room to be both silly and shrewd.
Jerry Brewer: 206-464-2277 or email@example.com
On Twitter: @JerryBrewer
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