ESPN’s Riddick thinks Seahawks’ Carroll knew all along they were good
The Seahawks weren’t expected to go on a four-game winning streak in the middle of the season, nor were people thinking they’d be 7-5 and in position to make the playoffs entering Week 14.
If there is anyone who isn’t surprised, they’re probably in the Seahawks’ building – most notably coach Pete Carroll.
In fact, ESPN analyst and former NFL safety Louis Riddick thinks Carroll knew he and his team were going to prove people wrong in the Seahawks’ first season without stalwart superstars Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner on their roster.
Riddick was around the Seahawks in the week leading up to calling their second preseason game on Aug. 18 against the Chicago Bears, and he said Carroll was sending signals that Seattle was worth believing in more for the 2022 season than most were giving them credit for.
“He had this sly-like facial expression and this kind of twinkle in his eye when we were talking to him,” Riddick recalled Tuesday to Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk. “He was telling us in that production meeting, ‘Y’all are about to mess around and find out that this game hasn’t passed me by at all.’ That’s what he was telling us. ‘I know what I’m doing. I’ve been a good coach for a long time. I know what I’m doing.'”
If there’s one thing the 71-year-old Carroll has done this year, he’s shown that anyone who thought he was out of touch with today’s NFL was sorely mistaken.
“There was this rampant speculation that maybe the game had passed Pete by, which is kind of ridiculous in and of itself,” Riddick said. “I think this is a guy who is incredibly connected to his team and to the game and at the fundamental base level what it takes to win in the NFL.”
So why the turnaround this season following a disappointing 7-10 finish last year that was just the second losing season for Seattle since Carroll took over in 2010 – and the first since 2011?
“I think Pete needed to restock his roster,” Riddick said. “They needed some better football players. He had to make some unpopular decisions, along with (general manager) John Schneider, in order to usher out the old and bring in the new.”
And then there’s the draft class they brought in, led by fifth-round selection Tariq Woolen, who is tied for the NFL lead in interceptions this season, second-round running back Kenneth Walker III, and the offensive tackle duo of Charles Cross and Abraham Lucas.
“They hit on some players, both from a skilled position-specific standpoint and from a character makeup standpoint, and then (Carroll) was able to develop them during the offseason and during training camp and now they’re starting to gel together and play some really good football,” Riddick said. “Not perfect, but they’re starting to play some really good football. … As far as the way they restocked this roster, look, they nailed this draft. They absolutely nailed the draft and these young kids are playing their rear ends off.”
Oh, and there is also the fact that quarterback Geno Smith has been an MVP candidate, which was certainly unexpected considering he had to win the starting job over Drew Lock in training camp and had not been a full-time starting QB since 2014.
“I think the thing most importantly that has caught everyone a little bit by surprise, I don’t think anyone except for maybe Geno himself expected Geno to have this kind of explosion and this kind of chemistry with (offensive coordinator Shane Waldron) to the degree where… when you objectively evaluate him and watch his tape, it is very hard to find someone who’s playing quarterback better than him,” Riddick said. “And that is what is catapulting this team right now to levels where I don’t think anybody expected it to happen this way.”
Watching everything unfold the way it has just brings Riddick back to that preseason production meeting with Carroll.
“You know this guy is the ultimate optimist. You know Pete rolls that way, that’s how he’s built, that’s what he believes in – positive psychology. Always believe as though he’s better or his team is better than even they believe that they are. It is bearing fruit right now, man. It really is, and what a great opportunity to have over the next three weeks. But he had that look, he was determined to prove some people wrong… I could just sense it when we were talking to him. I could just sense it, and we all left that production meeting that day going, ‘Pete is on one this year, man. He’s trying to prove some people wrong. He hears what people were saying. He hears it.'”
You can listen to the full Brock and Salk conversation with Riddick in the podcast below.