Seahawks’ Pete Carroll discusses Rams matchup, Wagner’s return

Sep 8, 2023, 11:30 AM

Seattle Seahawks Pete Carroll Bobby Wagner...

Head coach Pete Carroll and middle linebacker Bobby Wagner of the Seattle Seahawks react on the sideline on August 14, 2021. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

(Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

It’s Blue Friday and we’re now just two days away from the start of the Seattle Seahawks’ regular season opener. This year, the Hawks open with a familiar foe in the Los Angeles Rams.

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For Pete Carroll, this will be his 14th Week 1 game as head coach of the Seattle Seahawks, which is something he discussed during this week’s Pete Carroll Preview on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM’s Seattle’s Morning News.

“It’s the culmination of this entire offseason of focus and dreaming, wishing and hoping and hard work to get it right,” Carroll told Seahawks radio voice Steve Raible Friday morning. “It’s a big moment after all of this time we put in to see us for the first time officially. It doesn’t always tell you everything, the first game, but it certainly is much awaited and anticipated and it’s exciting to get our guys revved up and going for the first time as a club. We’ve been talking about it for months now.”

A big focus of Week 1 is on the younger players, and for the Seahawks, they have no shortage there as 24 members of the Seahawks’ 53-man roster are either rookies or seccond-year players.

For the rookies, Carroll shared what the hope is with them in their first regular season game.

“They’ve got to settle in and make sure that we’re playing football instead of thinking about all the rest of the stuff and all the hype and the build up and all that,” Carroll said.

Carroll stressed that the Hawks “really tried for formulate this preparation” with the team’s three preseason games so rookies don’t get overwhelmed by Week 1.

“They’ve already played games and the mental part of it is something that we work really hard at and we talked about what it’s going to be like on this day so that we’re ready for it,” he said. “I feel like we’re OK, but basically, they’ve got to go play like they’re capable. And that’s way more of a challenge than you might think.”

Facing the Rams

It’s a bit unclear what kind of team the Rams will be in 2023.

After winning the Super Bowl in 2021, L.A. took a massive step back last year as injuries to key players stacked up, winning just five games and missing the playoffs.

Carroll isn’t discounting the Rams by any means.

“This club since (head coach Sean McVay has) been there has been really, really well coached and prepared and organized in all aspects of it,” Carroll said. “We only anticipate that they’re going to be at their best.”

Carroll also shared what he expects from the Rams on offense under McVay and defense under D-coordinator Raheem Morris.

“They’re going to have really grooved schemes that they run on offense and the things that they do will all be great choices and fit their personnel and all of that and they’ll plan against us really well,” Carroll said. “And on the other side of the ball on defense, Raheem does a great job with their stuff. They’ll be fitting things to their personnel more than they have, I think, in the past. They’ve got some really good young coverage guys that can play that they might adjust a little bit there.

“But all in all, it’ll be a very, very smart scheme and they’ll be up and fired up and all that kind of stuff. I’m expecting them to be at a championship level. Where they are, I don’t know that, but I’m expecting that. What we’re really concerned about is us. We’ve got to play football the way we know how to play it, and that will take care of all the issues if we do right.”

Bobby Wagner back with the Seattle Seahawks

Someone who was part of that poor Rams team a year ago is future Hall of Fame linebacker Bobby Wagner.

After spending 10 years with the Seahawks, Wagner was released and signed with the Rams, where he was once again an All-Pro. He returned to Seattle on a one-year deal and will be a key part of the team’s defense in 2023.

Carroll is thrilled to have Wagner back with the Hawks.

“When we first started thinking about it and talking about it with Bobby and trying to figure it out if we could pull this together, it was always a great idea. And it was one that I was really excited about, and I know one that Bobby was, too,” Carroll said.

Carroll called Seattle a “really treasured place” for Wagner.

“He loves the area, he loves his family being here and all of that, he loves his time he spent here. He has put in so much into this career he’s had,” Carroll said. “So to come back and to be accepted like he has by one, the franchise, but certainly by the fans, it’s just been about as much as you could hope for in a sports career. So now we’ve got to go play good ball and go win a bunch of games and cash in on it. But the build up of it, the expectation of it has been perfect, and I’m just thrilled for the way this has turned out.”

Wagner, unsurprisingly, was named one of Seattle’s captains for 2023. What was a bit surprising, though, was that he was one of six captains, easily the most captains the Seahawks have had under Carroll.

Seattle’s six captains for 2023 are Wagner and safety Quandre Diggs on defense, quarterback Geno Smith and wide receiver Tyler Lockett on offense and kicker Jason Myers and linebacker/fullback Nick Bellore for special teams.

“We went to six captains this time … and it was just because there’s so many guys that are worthy and I wanted to make sure that we’re well represented,” Carroll said. “This is a great group of guys. There’s other guys on this team, too, that lead and are a big factor and have a significant voice. But this is as good as you could hope for. These guys, every one of them has worked to get where they are and they’ve put up great reputations and records behind them and all that kind of stuff that just stands tall. So when these guys talk, everybody listens. And there’s other guys too, as I said, but these guys really have the listening ear for our players.”

Catch The Pete Carroll Preview every Friday at 8:15 a.m. on Seattle’s Morning News on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM. Listen to this week’s podcast at this link or in the player near the top of this story. 

More on the Seattle Seahawks

• Mark Sanchez: ‘So much meat on the bone’ for Seahawks in 2023
• K.J. Wright’s Seattle Seahawks predictions for 2023 season
• Huard: The 2 surprises from Seattle Seahawks’ Week 1 depth chart
• GM Schneider: Seahawks’ most improved position is DBs
• NFL Network’s Wyche: Chris Jones to Seahawks ‘would make a lot of sense’
• In Seahawks return, Bobby Wagner still feels at top of his game
• Rost on Seahawks: Making the case for each team to win NFC West
• Huard: Why is Seattle Seahawks’ ‘home run’ Geno deal now a ‘grand slam?’

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