Yeah, he’s passed along the techniques and mechanics and schemes and all the usual things a coach is paid to impart to his athletes.
But a powerful subtext to Pete Carroll’s main message to the Seattle Seahawks this season has been this: Believe.
Believe it can be done. Believe the approach works. Even if the evidence isn’t always there. And maybe it takes time, and the dividends will be deferred, but they will accrue if you believe.
And while Saturday’s stunning 41-36 upset of the New Orleans Saints at Qwest Field certainly validates his message, getting them to believe may have been secondary to getting them to suspend their disbeliefs.
“It didn’t matter … what was said outside, and all of the (negative) story lines and all that,” Carroll said of the widespread scoffing of the 7-9 Hawks taking on the defending World Champs. “They just did buy it.”
No word was said about them being massive underdogs, and nobody in the building paid attention to the circumstances that made them a national punch line.
All he tried to convince them was that if they did only what they are capable of – nothing extraordinary – they could defeat the Saints.
Yeah … right.
Matt Hasselbeck obviously chose to believe it was 2005 again, and that he could throw four touchdowns in a game when less than a month ago he was throwing four interceptions, and two weeks ago he was limping on a hip that he injured without even being touched.
A patched-up offensive line, meanwhile, believed it could keep Hasselbeck protected and also clear the way for 149 rushing yards against the No. 4 defense in the NFL.
“All year long, (Carroll) told us if we believe, we can go places,” center Chris Spencer said. “We had that feeling all week that we could do it, and he said he could feel the confidence and belief in the room.”
Confidence they could win? “(Before the game) we were talking about how meetings were going to be scheduled next week,” linebacker David Hawthorne said. “Our biggest thing always has been pulling together and believing in ourselves. We didn’t approach this week any differently. We just all believed.”
Veteran safety Lawyer Milloy was asked a number of times last week to address the situation that allowed the Seahawks to reach the playoffs with a losing record. He didn’t want any part of that discussion. He just kept saying: Once you’re in the tournament, anything can happen.”
“It happened, didn’t it?” Milloy said. “We have a chance to be a champion if we stay humble and keep working hard. Each week we’re gaining that belief. These young guys see that this is what the coaches have been talking about, this is what that old-ass Lawyer Milloy talks about; whenever you work hard and prepare hard, you’ve always got a chance.”
But what about all the lopsided losses this season, and those games that the team looked so … so … ordinary?
“Some of it got lost in translation for whatever reason throughout the year,” Milloy said. “Now we’re figuring it out, and accepting it, and we’re building that belief that we’re going to play well … and we did.”
If the belief seemed to be slipping as the Saints drew close in the fourth quarter, it was pounded home with a jack-hammer stiff arm and what may have been one of the most exceptional rushes in franchise history.
With the Saints regaining momentum and coming within four points, 34-30, Marshawn Lynch took a handoff on a “power” off right tackle. He was hit by eight Saints, but he kept pumping his legs, and 67 bloody, bruising, thrilling yards later, he dove into the end zone.
His effort is the stuff of highlights. But what will get overlooked is the fact that 300-pound guard Tyler Polumbus was 60 yards downfield still trying to block for him. And just a few strides behind? The guy wearing No. 8 – Hasselbeck. The 35-year-old quarterback with a broken left wrist and a bum back was racing downfield in case he could throw a block.
This is a guy who had every right to hang back and watch from a safe distance. But that’s not how these guys are wired at this point. Belief will do that.
Hasselbeck is testimony that Carroll’s approach is not just some guy spreading a lot of Tinkerbell Magic Dust. “What makes it easy to buy in is because it’s legit,” Hasselbeck said.
That should only get stronger, as the Seahawks’ outrageous upset of the Saints was both the proof and the pay-off.