The gist of Pete Carroll’s final message for his players as they left the building this week: Don’t forget … your jobs are in danger.
“As our guys went out the door that’s what they were left with – when you come back, get ready (because) there’s going to be guys coming after your jobs and the best man is going to win,” the Sea-hawks coach said Wednesday.
The message is kinder than we might have expected some to have received on their way out the door in the past year: Don’t let it hit you in the fanny.
The Seahawks hardly need a reminder of the nature of the franchise, because a year of almost 300 roster changes is now being followed by a period of heavy staff change.
So we may not be entirely certain if Carroll has constructed a truly functional meritocracy with this team or if he’s turning into Darwin with a whistle.
But change is constant and pressure to evolve is unrelenting.
And, besides, most of the best remodeling projects start with a sledge hammer, crowbar and a giant trash bin.
“We’re going to be very active whenever we can, we’re going to continue to upgrade our roster at all times, we’re going to continue to make this team as competitive as possible,” Carroll said.
Nobody’s exempt, as the firing of offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates proves. Carroll cited philosophical differences. In essence, he wants an offense that can buckle up and run the football.
There may have been a number of reasons why that didn’t happen this season, primarily because the Seahawks had an offensive line that was limited by injuries and talent. But Bates did not find a way to make it happen. So … careful with the door, Jeremy.
But Tom Cable’s Oakland Raiders rushed for 239 yards against the Seahawks when they met this year. Cable got fired by Oakland, so Carroll hired him as offensive line/assistant head coach. Cable will bring an attitude of toughness to the entire team, Carroll predicted.
When asked about Cable’s off-field issues, which included allegations of domestic violence, Carroll promised the team vetted the hiring with due diligence … and will support and guide him “as he moves ahead to do all the good things and the right things.”
Well, if it goes badly, Carroll will rightly be viewed as an enabler, and a foul stench should visit his own door.
But Carroll and general manager John Schneider have earned some trust with what they’ve done so far. Players have learned that the door swings in both directions. If you get the job done, you will get more chances to play.
Backups such as defensive lineman Red Bryant and receiver Ben Obomanu worked their way into starting positions and became key contributors.
In the other direction, all your credentials and contract can’t save you if you don’t produce.
Even if you’re a recent first-round draft pick, if you’re a defensive end who can’t rush the passer – say, Lawrence Jackson – you might as well be a Passenger Pigeon.
And even if you’re the team’s highest-paid free agent, if you’re a receiver with more complaints than catches – T.J. Houshmandzadeh, for instance – you’re gone like a Dodo bird.
Loyalty has absolute value. Continuity breeds a sense of community on a team. Shared experience generally results in improvement. But talent wins in the NFL. And the Seattle Seahawks have been short of it in recent seasons.
This is a bottom-line business, and that can make it cold. It is appropriate that nobody is trying to hide it. Carroll, in fact, is stressing it.
“I told them all that everybody is competing again, we’re starting all over again, and they’ve got to fight for their jobs,” Carroll said. “Of course, we’ll take into account the experiences that they’ve shown us and what we know about them, but they can’t come back feeling comfortable (or) that they got it made because we’re going to do everything we can to make it uncomfortable so that they have to push to new levels and new heights.
“That’s for the starters and that’s for the backups. Then we let the dust settle in time.”
Other than that … have a nice offseason, guys.