Pete Carroll can’t sit still.
The Seattle Seahawks coach has done more in his first 5 1/2 months back in the NFL than some coaches do in an entire year.
Carroll has made status quo a no-go in Seattle, taking full advantage of the executive vice president power the Seahawks have also given him on personnel moves.
According to a team count, the Seahawks have made 40 transactions involving 95 players since Jan. 11, the day they hired Carroll. Nearly half (18) of those moves have come in the past eight weeks, approximately since the draft.
The Seahawks made just seven transactions from May 1, 2009, until this point last June.
Even the city’s constant rain and chill got him going this spring.
“It’s been really fun,” Carroll said this week at Seattle’s final minicamp before training camp begins in five weeks.
Then the Los Angeles transplant and former USC coach looked up into a rare, clear sky.
“It’s always sunny here, you know. This is awesome,” he joked. “I don’t know why everybody’s griping all the time.”
The Seahawks haven’t had time to gripe. They are too busy learning everybody’s names, and their own, new jobs.
Roughly half of Seattle’s roster is new from the one which finished last season 5-11 and got coach Jim Mora fired.
“We talked back in the beginning that we were going to compete to find as many ways we could to improve and to challenge the depth of the roster,” Carroll said. “If you’d have asked me, I would have thought we might have half (the roster) turned over.”
Carroll has hired an almost entirely new coaching staff, with many of the assistants coming with him from Southern California.
He and coordinator Jeremy Bates have installed a new offense with more reliance on zone blocking and running. He and coordinator Gus Bradley have installed a new defense with some variations of a 3-4 scheme to spice up the Seahawks’ perennial – and recently failed – 4-3.
He’s traded backup quarterback Seneca Wallace. He’s told three-time Pro Bowl passer Matt Hasselbeck he must compete for his job and is in the final year of his contract. Carroll sent that clear message in March by trading with the San Diego Chargers to get the unproven Charlie Whitehurst, a move that cost Seattle draft picks and a new $8 million contract for Hasselbeck’s heir. Then he pushed Whitehurst by signing J.P. Losman, the former starter and No. 1 pick with the Buffalo Bills.
He’s drafted a new fixture at left tackle, Russell Okung, sixth overall to replace the retired Walter Jones. Carroll made Okung a starter on the first snap of his first minicamp in April.
He’s drafted a new starting safety in Earl Thomas out of Texas. He’s brought back Lawyer Milloy, whom he coached a decade ago in New England. At 36 Milloy is the second-oldest Seahawk behind kicker Olindo Mare, upon whom Carroll slapped his franchise tag to keep him for 2010. Milloy is poised to start next to Thomas at safety.
That’s if Kevin Ellison doesn’t. Carroll signed another one of his former stars at USC on Tuesday, a day after the Chargers waived the safety.
Carroll has signed guys from all over the place on the basis of needing competition – or simply for having coached them at USC.
Former Trojans star Mike Williams, a former top 10 overall pick, ballooned his way out of the league. Carroll invited him for a three-day tryout. Now, he’s in shape and primed at 6-feet-5, 240 pounds to give the Seahawks the huge outside receiving threat Carroll loves and Seattle has lacked.
Carroll has also cut guys weeks or even days after signing them, such as former Trojans rushing star LenDale White. That sent a message throughout a curious locker room that anybody – even a former favorite of his – is expendable.
It’s been a constant carousel of competition. And Carroll is still months from coaching in his first NFL game since 1999.
“We just want to get a new look and build off the strengths of what we have and let’s see if we can keep pushing it,” he said. “The main theme is the competition thing. And we want these guys to feel it so it keeps the fires burning and they’ve got to keep battling.”
Carroll says he and new general manger John Schneider aren’t done. This roster churn may last through August – and beyond.
“Our approach, between John and I, we’re going to keep bringing guys in and keep making moves and keep pushing the envelope as much as we can to keep getting faster and keep getting guys with special qualities is what we’re looking for all the time,” he said, talking as fast as he moves. “We’re not done yet in that regard, and we won’t be done until we’re competing.
“I’m pumped up about it.”