Reading between the lines: Pete Carroll and Kellen Winslow
We tried the patented "Pete Carroll Translator" in training camp to decipher the quarterback competition.
It wasn't perfect. Translating from Carroll's dialect of rapid-fire speech, incomplete sentences and dangling participles is difficult.
Not only that, but this is a football coach we're talking about and those men are in the business of collecting information not sharing it.
It takes a close ear and a lot of projection and interpretation to put Carroll's statements into layman's terms, but with more than two years of covering the man, I feel that I'm fairly fluent in Carroll-ese so here is the best attempt to translate Carroll's explanation for why the team released tight end Kellen Winslow with his actual responses to actual questions followed by hypothetical interpretations.
(Editor's note: Please keep this in the spirit of things, which is not a literal translation but a reporter's projection of what the coach might have meant.)
Q: Coach, what was the thought process in releasing Kellen Winslow?
What Carroll said: "Well, we had some very difficult choices at 53, and that was one of the most. I really like the heck out of him. He played very well for us. He practiced really hard for us. He exceeded expectations in terms of how much he could practice. Very, very competitive about learning and growing with it.
"But it came down at the end of it, as we looked at the whole thing, we fit it together differently. Unfortunately, he couldn't stay with us. It was fortunate that we could find a guy that we really liked in Evan (Moore). I have known him since he was a high-school kid back at Brea Olinda back in the old days, played against him at Stanford, and he happened to be a guy that can really catch the football, 6-6 and a healthy body that's ready to go. So we felt like we could make that exchange and still uphold that catching that we needed right at that position. We wish him the best.
"Kellen did a great job in my mind, and if there was a time down the road, that we could get back to him, we would consider doing that. It just didn't work out."
What Carroll meant:: That one caught you off guard, huh? Well, his knee wasn't any worse than we thought. In fact it was better than we feared, and he wasn't some kind of social menace who bit off a teammate's head or put cement in one of our washing machines, either. He was fine.
When it came down to it, we decided that as hard as he tried, we looked over and found a guy who was both younger and not so expensive who could fill into a similar role. Also, if you hadn't noticed with the departures of Lendale White and Mike Williams, we're kind of ruthless when it comes to turning the page.
Now if Kellen wants to come back and talk about playing for what we were offering, yeah, we can have that conversation.
Q: How much did his contract factor into it?
What Carroll said: "Everything is a factor. Everything is a factor on every side of it whether they're making a lot of money or not making a lot of money. We take everything into account to not make those decisions and consider every aspect of it because we have to. That's how we do it."
What Carroll meant: If he was willing to take the pay cut we had talked about, we wouldn't be having this conversation.
Q: Were you OK with his ability to manage the knee?
What Carroll said: "Yeah, he did all right. He made it through it, and we made a considerable effort to manage him, but he exceeded our expectations in how much he could work, and he never wanted out. He always wanted to practice. I didn't know that about him when we got him, and I was impressed with that. He hated having to miss something because he loves to play."
What Carroll meant: Have I not made it clear yet that he was able to play at the level we expected? There wasn't an issue with his health or his production. Seriously.
Q: So you weren't worried about his ability to hold up through the season?
What Carroll said: "I don't know. I don't know. He has a serious issue that he's dealing with, but he knows how to manage it, and with our complementary approach to it, it seemed like we were getting it done. He was able to do everything we asked him to do in terms of playing in the practice mode and also in the games. He wanted to play more in the preseason. He was fighting us, 'Come on, let me go back in.' OK. We were very guarded about it knowing it was a long-haul ordeal."
What Carroll meant: Let's not get carried away here. He has knee issues. We knew that. Those knee issues didn't prevent him from playing, and even practicing, more than we expected, but let's not pretend like he went and found the Hot Tub Time Machine or anything. His knee was going to have to be managed, and he wasn't going to be able to practice daily during the regular season.
Q: When you look at Winslow's numbers, his career catches, and compared them, Evan Moore is a younger player but he's had 62 catches in three years. It looks like you might have sacrificed performance. Do you feel like there's dropoff there?
What Carroll said: "There's a difference between those guys in their histories, sure. Kellen has been a great big-time performer for a long time, and there's no doubt about that. He showed us why. You could see it.
"But it's a big exchange that we make because it's a long-haul thinking. We're not just thinking about the immediate. We're one of the youngest teams in the NFL for a reason, and that's a big deal to us. We want to continue to build for the future, and make sure we always have our eye on that. Going with a guy that's younger that's in great shape and all of that, we felt like we could make a good exchange here and get the production that we need.
"We have a great tight end in Zach (Miller), and we love what he does. And Anthony (McCoy) has played great. He's had a great camp.
"(We) had factored in all that. We want those guys in there playing. The position really is the third tight end spot, and we would like special dimensions in that player just like we always talk about. Unique aspects. What we get in Evan is a 6-6 guy who can catch everything. He has a great catching range and he knows how to get down the field. He can run routes as a wide receiver, which he was growing up. He gives us some things that we think we can feature in that third spot."
What Carroll meant: Wow. We've got ourselves an investigative reporter right here. I mean, he looked up stats on the InterGoogle or whatever you kids call it and saw that Evan Moore's 62 career receptions doesn't quite stack up against one of the best receiving tight ends of this generation.
Well, Columbo, there was a little bit more that went into this decision than checking NFL.com. See, Winslow was going to make a healthy chunk of money. We thought there was a way to reduce that.
But when that paycut was turned down, and we were faced with the prospect of paying Winslow $3.3 million for what would amount to one year of service, so we took a deep breath and surveyed the situation.
We had a young fellow in McCoy who showed signs he might be ready to take the next step. There was Moore, who while not as prolific, is younger, cheaper and could grow into something more who would play a role for years to come. So we decided we were better off - in the long term - saving more than $2 million in payroll and giving these younger guys room to grow.