Those crazy, unconventional and quite possibly brilliant Seahawks are doing it again. They’re creating a stir with a flurry of moves that are easy to pick apart individually. But by now, we should know better than to jump to premature conclusions.
OK, OK. Truth be told, I should know better.
What I’ve learned in 18 months covering the Pete Carroll/John Schneider regime: Never analyze any of their decisions in a vacuum. They’re big-picture men with a crystallized vision of both where they’re headed and how to get there. They’re transparent in that way. They’re confident in their beliefs and have a good feel for team building, but they’re surprisingly flexible, too, as long as their decisions bolster their grand mission.
Their goal is to build a championship team with mostly young, athletic 20-something players who possess prototypical size. They want to be an attacking defense-centered team with a mobile quarterback guiding an offense that makes opponents choke on the running game. And they want to build from within, using the draft as their primary resource and filling out the roster with smart free-agency moves that help them acquire players who still have an upside.
To be certain, it’s not a revolutionary plan. But the entire front office’s commitment to it, how it permeates every tactic, is special. And then the Seahawks are eccentric in some of their pursuits and philosophies. It makes them easy to criticize but near impossible to criticize correctly.
I ripped them for believing that Carroll and Schneider could form, as former team president Tod Leiweke put it, a “fantastic collaboration.” But the quirky front-office structure, in which the coach has slightly more power than the general manager, has made them fantastic collaborators.
I ripped them for the Super Roster Shuffle before last season began. But all those 11th-hour roster changes did make the team better.
I ripped them, a little, for seemingly reaching to select right tackle James Carpenter in the first round of April’s NFL draft. But the pick was part of a preconceived effort to improve the offensive line.
Now, I’m the one who’s torn.
We’re two days into free agency, but Carroll and Schneider have changed this team considerably. They’ve ditched 10-year incumbent Matt Hasselbeck and signed Tarvaris Jackson at quarterback. They’ve also made two major acquisitions so far: guard Robert Gallery and wide receiver Sidney Rice. They still have much work to do, and it’s odd they didn’t address their defensive line immediately after putting a Band-Aid on the quarterback dilemma, but they deserve patience and trust.
Why? Because they never deviate from their vision. And because they tend to make knee-jerks look stupid.
Believe me, I know.
I’m skeptical about some of the things the Seahawks are attempting, particularly at quarterback. But more than that, I’m intrigued. They’re being unconventional again. While most teams pursue a long-term quarterback, any quarterback, as soon as possible when rebuilding, the Seahawks are sliding that to the back of the list and fixing what they can right now.
It’s not that they don’t value the quarterback position. Carroll has coached some great ones, in college and the NFL, in his career. Schneider, as a Green Bay executive, witnessed the impact of Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers. They know quarterback is the most important job in team sports, and they don’t take that lightly.
However, they are reading this market well. They didn’t like their quarterback options in the draft, so they passed. They didn’t love their free agency and trade options enough to expend major resources, so they signed Jackson at a good value. Neither Jackson nor Charlie Whitehurst appears good enough to lead a team deep into the playoffs, but rebuilding is a process. Not everything can be accomplished in one offseason. The Seahawks are throwing their resources at other areas, and it seems they’re spending their money well. They’ll find a long-term quarterback when there’s a good move to be made, but they won’t force it.
The risk is that they might soon become one of those teams with every piece in place except the franchise quarterback. Such QBs are hard to find, but that doesn’t mean a team should start shooting its bullets irresponsibly, hoping to get lucky.
I still believe the Seahawks will regret moving past Hasselbeck so soon. But I’m not willing to scream that Carroll and Schneider were wrong prematurely. They must be allowed to execute their plan because it’s well-conceived.
I’ve learned my lesson.