Gallant: Seahawks ahead of the curve with way coaching is trending in NFL

Mar 24, 2020, 12:40 AM

Bill Belichick, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll...

Bill Belichick succeeded Pete Carroll as the New England Patriots head coach 20 years ago. (Getty)


For a long time, I believed there was only one way to successfully run an NFL team. But this offseason, that strategy might have died.

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The environment we’re raised in shapes our perspectives. Religion. Politics. Sports fandom. And because of that, many of us grow up believing that one philosophy is the only possible mindset. Over time, those opinions might evolve. Often, though, we’ll ride that line of thinking all the way to the grave.

“Sheesh, PAWL. Two death references in 2 paragraphs? Lighten up.”

I grew up believing that the game’s best coaches were no-nonsense drill sergeants that kept players constantly paranoid about their personal performances. Can you blame me? After all, I’d watched Bill Parcells bark and Bill Belichick growl their Patriots teams to Super Bowls. And in between those two, Pete Carroll’s player-friendly strategy backfired. The way our neck of the woods felt about Pete? I think it’s best explained in this 2001 Bill Simmons column:

“Kraft hired good-natured, upbeat San Fran assistant Pete Carroll as head coach, the classic case of a ‘Player’s coach’ replacing a ‘Disciplinarian.’ Within months, players were diving into mosh pits, missing practices, and getting into car accidents and fistfights. Even though they were a consensus Super Bowl contender, the Pats kept making mistakes in big moments, and Carroll’s goofy ‘I’m jacked and pumped!’ routine was bordering on ‘Saturday Night Live sketch’ territory. One of my readers at the time joked, ‘The Pete Carroll era finally answers the question of why Fredo was never given control of the Corleone family.’

Nearly 20 years later, who’d have thought that Carroll – now the oldest coach in the league – and his style with the Seahawks might be the forerunner for the future of coaching across the NFL?

Football coaches still have the power to rule their team with an iron fist. Maybe not to the degree of fictional coaches like Bud Kilmer in “Varsity Blues,” but compared to basketball coaches (especially those of star players) and baseball managers, they’re practically despots.

Based off this offseason, that may be about to change, because it’s been a bad past week for the league’s strong-arm coaches.

In Houston, we’d already seen Texans head coach Bill O’Brien run off two general managers. And in a little over a year, he’s sent two transcendent talents – Jadeveon Clowney and DeAndre Hopkins – packing for pennies on the dollar. Why? Because, from the sound of things, he wasn’t willing to compromise his coaching style for super talented players.

O’Brien was never a fan of Clowney, and he and Hopkins didn’t see eye to eye, either. Now both are gone. There’s a chance O’Brien could make this work, I guess. But on the outside looking in, why would someone want to join an organization like that going forward?

Meanwhile in Detroit, Lions head coach Matt Patricia went a step further, disrespecting at least one of his now former players. After Quandre Diggs was traded to the Seahawks, star cornerback Darius Slay’s reaction was noteworthy. And over the past week, we found out just how much Slay disliked his time in Detroit, specifically when playing for Patricia.

And yeah, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick’s coaching style have made him the most successful coach in NFL History. But per an ESPN report, his methods might be one of the biggest factors in Tom Brady leaving New England to play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

O’Brien and Patricia are both from the Belichick coaching tree. Maybe these developments are just a referendum on “The Patriots Way.”

I think they’re a sign of the changing times. It’s one thing to get grilled by someone like Bill Belichick. But if it’s someone like O’Brien or Patricia, guys who have zero pelts on the wall? As a player, how seriously would you take them in 2020? Especially if they’re being downright disrespectful, like in Patricia’s case?

Here’s some good news for the Seahawks: These guys all seem to be the complete opposite of Pete Carroll. So for all the things that may frustrate Seahawks fans about Pete – clock management, weird challenges, and a love of running the football – be thankful that he’s ahead of the curve here.

Follow 710 ESPN Seattle’s Paul Gallant on Twitter.

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Gallant: Seahawks ahead of the curve with way coaching is trending in NFL