Win Forever: Seahawks need to get back to their philosophy to be successful in 2017
Updated: Oct 29, 2018
Rule #1 in Pete Carroll's 'Win Forever' philosophy, "Always Protect The Team."
Right there, at the bottom of the pyramid, at the foundation of Pete Carroll "Win Forever" philosophy:
This is a snapshot straight out of Pete Carroll's book, "Win Forever." 2016 was riddled with acts that contradict this very concept, especially from the likes of veterans such as Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett and even Cliff Avril. You got Richard Sherman's off-field confrontation with Jim Moore to his on-field arguing with teammates and coordinators. Then, Michael Bennett blowing up at a local news reporter after the playoff loss to Atlanta and getting into altercations on the field with opposing players. Defensive veterans like Jeremy Lane, Cliff Avril, and Richard Sherman taking questionable hits on opposing players during various games during the season. There is something about the Seahawks players psyche that did not seem right with players in the 2016 season.
On several occasions of the 2016 season, Richard Sherman has gotten into altercations with members of the Seattle media, his own teammates and coaches. Most notably, his altercation with Darrell Bevell during the home game vs the Rams regarding the offensive play call on the 1-yard line. Listening to Sherman during interviews after that Rams game, it seems to me, that this team has never gotten over the Super Bowl 49 loss versus the Patriots. Especially for the guys that are still on this current team that were part of that Super Bowl 49 roster. The result of that play call on the 1-yard line during the Super Bowl denied the Seahawks, Richard Sherman, the city of Seattle, a second Super Bowl ring, the title of being back-to-back Super Bowl Champions. That call on the 1-yard line vs the Patriots is also ingrained in NFL history as one of the worst play-calls and heartbreaking losses of all-time. That scar has never healed. Every time it's shown on TV, every time the Seahawks play the Patriots, that scar is poked and prodded and becomes a wound all over again. So every time a pass play is called inside the 5-yard line that is unsuccessful, let alone, nearly intercepted, just opens up the wound again. This is probably what caused his press conference to sour with 710 ESPN Seattle reporter, Jim Moore, who has constantly dismissed the confrontation as a "non-story." Pete
In Art Thiel's article on SportspressNW.com, when asked if his rant (about Bevell) was potentially punishable, Sherman replied, "No. Because what’s our rule? Protect the team. That’s our rule. It goes both ways. That’s what me and Pete talked about.” The one thing that jumped out at me is when Sherman said "It goes both ways." Sherman was not asked to elaborate on that point but it got me thinking. Did Sherman imply that the coaches as much as the players need to live by the first rule to protect the team? And if so, was Sherman's antics another calculated act as a cry of desperation to the coaches to protect this team by making the offense more efficient, whether it be play-calling or personnel? According to ESPN.com, the 2016 Seahawks Offensive Rankings are:
Passing Yards per Game: 10th
Yards per Game: 12th
Points per Game: 18th Rushing Yards per Game: 25th Redzone Scoring Efficiency: 25th (teamrankings.com)
Sacks Allowed: 26th
You see it statistically. One on hand, the Seahawks can move the ball by passing but can't run the ball effectively. They can't protect the quarterback or score when in the red zone. So does Richard Sherman have a point about questioning Bevell's play calling? Since the Super Bowl loss, the Seahawks have ran 15 plays from the opponent's 1-yard line. They scored 8 of 15 times (53%), 6 by rush, 2 by pass. This only further backs up Sherman's argument to run the ball while on the 1-yard line.
Since the playoff loss to Atlanta, I have listened to several of the sports talk radio shows on 710 ESPN Seattle where it was questioned whether Richard Sherman should remain with Seahawks for 2017 based off his behavior in 2016 or whether Sherman's behavior is a distraction for the team. Let me say this, Richard Sherman should definitely still be part of this team because who else would take his spot? I have learned to always give Richard Sherman the benefit of any doubt. I think he has proved time and time again that no matter how it's perceived to the fans, his actions have well-intentions. He's like Batman, the Dark Knight. He's used to being vilified so he can take the heat. But underneath it all, he's truly trying to be the protector of this team - yearning for this coaching staff to change something, anything, especially on this offense because he knows Russell, Doug, Thomas, and Jimmy, needs help. But was Sherman out of line? Since Richard brought up Rule#1 which says he must recognize the consequences of his actions, then yes, he did break the rule. He broke it by not recognizing his actions would possibly cause a distraction to his team by creating a potential conflict between defense and offense. However, like Sherman said, protecting the team is a two-way street.
If the coaches want to scold Sherman about the criticism of the offense as a means to protect the team, then Pete Carroll needs to heed his own advice and protect the team by getting capable bodies around Russell Wilson.
Pete Carroll and the Offense
In his final press conference of the season, when asked if he thought he needed to spend more money on the line, Pete Carroll said: “I don’t think that way. That’s now how we — ‘OK, let’s take money and put it here and all of a sudden you’re going to get better.’ You’ve got to get guys that can play worthy of it, and when they demonstrate that then they get paid. We’ve shown that we understand that and are committed to that mentality. I don’t think you can just buy your way to it. We’re not going to do that. We’re not going to go out and spend a ton of money in free agency on one guy to try to save the day. That’s now how we function at all.” (Seattle Times/Jason Jenks) I get it. Money won't solve all of your problems. Money won't just make all your problems go away. No one can say definitely that paying someone like a Kevin Zeitler, $10M/year, that he would make an immediate impact on your team. No one knows. I get it. However, let's take a look back at Pete's philosophy. Another other quote Pete has this team live by is found in the 'central theme' of his 'Win Forever' pyramid, which is, "In a relentless pursuit of a competitive edge."
By stating, "we’re not going to go out and spend a ton of money in free agency to try to save the day,” is that indicative of a "relentless pursuit of a competitive edge?"
Again, I know Pete wants to pay guys who have earned it. That's the way it should be. It's been that way with Russell, Doug, Bobby, Sherman, Earl, the list goes on. It works. But the least Pete can do is bring in guys that can at least compete.
ESPN Seahawks beat writer, Sheil Kapadia, wrote an excellent article regarding the offensive line that can be read here. According to Sheil's article, the Seahawks have tried to get bodies to protect Russell Wilson. During the Carroll and Schneider era, the Seahawks have drafted 14 offensive linemen which is tied for the most with the 49ers in that time frame. (Sheil Kapadia/ESPN) From 2012 - 2016, the Seahawks drafted the following linemen: 2012 - None
2013 - Michael Bowie (Round 7)
2014 - Justin Britt (Round 2)
2015 - Terry Poole (Round 4)
2015 - Mark Glowinski (Round 4)
2016 - Germain Ifedi (Round 1)
2016 - Rees Ohdiambo (Round 3) 2016 - Joey Hunt (Round 6) The current group in front of Russell Wilson was graded 32 out of 32 by Pro Football Focus at the end of 2016. So what needs to happen?
First, Pete needs to halt the mad scientist experiments that Tom Cable implements. That needs to stop, PERIOD. JR Sweezy's transition from a defensive lineman to a starting NFL guard was an exception, not the rule. Britt took three years to settle into a starting role as a center, can this team afford to wait another 2-3 years for one of these guys to develop into their own? All while Russell Wilson, Doug Baldwin, Jimmy Graham, Kam Chancellor, Michael Bennett, Bobby Wagner, Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas are in the prime of their careers? No more turning former TEs to tackles just because they're good athletes. We need capable bodies around Russell Wilson to fully maximize Wilson's potential.
Pete has already stated that he will not fire any coach on his staff and that any coach leaving the organization will need to do so on his own accord. So Tom Cable is not going anywhere. But with Pete overseeing player personnel, he needs to step in and maximize the free agency opportunities to invoke more competition on this line.
Whether it be anger, frustration, or disappointment, the Seahawks need to expel their past demons to recognize their bright future. They can first do that by getting back to the team's philosophy - Always Protect The Team - which we know is a two-way street.