Carroll says he can fall victim to his optimism — has that hurt Seahawks?
Listen to Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll speak about his team, players and coaching staff and it’s clear he’s a “glass half full” guy. He loves to talk about positive takeaways, what went well and things of that nature.
Because of that, he’s been seen as one of the best “players’ coaches” in the league, and is commonly referred to as one of the head coaches that players would most like to play for aside from their own.
When it comes to drafting players or adding free agents, he is very intrigued as to what he and his coaches can help turn that player into, and he is confident that they can achieve that goal. Carroll will tell you that that his positive outlook is a large part of who he is, and that he’s optimistic maybe to a fault.
“I’m such an optimist … I see something that really excites me about a guy and I don’t have to see him play great all the time,” he said in the latest Flying Coach Podcast for The Ringer. “If I can see enough stuff then I think I can tap into it. I’m a little bit of a victim of that in recruiting and all that because maybe I’m too optimistic about that. Basically, they are what they are and then you develop them and you try to add to it, but I kind of fall (victim) to that.”
While Carroll has been extremely successful with the Seahawks, appearing in the playoffs eight out of 10 years, winning a Super Bowl and appearing in another, some have questioned how the roster has been constructed since the “glory years” of the early- and mid-2010s.
Carroll and Seahawks general manager John Schneider have always aimed to build the team’s core through the draft, and while Seattle has had some hits on recent drafts, such as receiver DK Metcalf last season and cornerback Shaquill Griffin in 2017, the success hasn’t been as great as it once was.
In Carroll and Schneider’s first three drafts together in Seattle – 2010, 2011 and 2012 – they hit on a number of superstars, many of them middle- and late-round selections. Players like quarterback Russell Wilson (third round, 2012), linebacker Bobby Wagner (second round, 2012), safety Earl Thomas (first round, 2010), safety Kam Chancellor (fifth round, 2010), cornerback Richard Sherman (fifth round, 2011) and linebacker K.J. Wright (fourth round, 2011) were selected in those three drafts, and Carroll and his staff helped mold them into superstars who won Seattle’s first Lombardi Trophy in 2013.
But the misses and busts have been far more prevalent since then, with guys like tackle Germain Ifedi, defensive tackle Malik McDowell, defensive end L.J. Collier and other picks failing to make an impact despite Carroll being extremely high on them and excited to have them in his system.
Has Carroll’s optimistic look on players, especially if he’s in fact taking guys in which he sees “something that really excited” him and doesn’t “have to see him play great all the time,” hurt the Seahawks over the years by selecting high-risk, high-reward prospects in the draft that haven’t panned out? 710 ESPN Seattle’s John Clayton isn’t so sure.
“Who are some of the names?” Clayton said after listening to Carroll’s comments. “I’d have to think (running back) C.J. Prosise, who he’s always talked well about and really loves him because of his ability to run routes because he’d been a receiver and running back in college at Notre Dame. And maybe (defensive tackle) Naz Jones, that could be another example. Could (safety) Tedric Thompson be another one?”
Prosise was a third-round pick in 2016 while Jones and Thompson were selected in the third and fourth rounds, respectively, in 2017. All three were players that Carroll spoke very highly of despite them not achieving the level of success you’d expect from someone as highly touted as they were. Injuries played a role with all three of those players, but they were also inconsistent when on the field. They were guys that Carroll thought he and his staff could mold into stars, but all three are now free agents just a few years after being drafted.
Even with draft misses, Carroll has still led the Seahawks to the playoffs eight times since 2010 and they’re a favorite to return to the postseason in 2020. Clayton thinks Carroll’s attitude and demeanor are a big part of that.
“The one thing is Pete is very optimistic and he’s very positive and he thinks that with his coaching and his coaching staff that he can get these guys to reach the best level. In many ways he has and in some cases, hey, you aren’t going to hit on everything, and I don’t think there should be any reconsideration of anything with what you do as far as Pete’s coaching because you can see the success,” Clayton said. “He’s in the playoffs just about every year, he’s now trying to build everything for a Super Bowl run. So you’re not going to be perfect, but hey, that’s the way football is.”
You can listen to Carroll’s comments on the podcast with Clayton’s reaction at this link or in the player below.