I have no idea how Pete Carroll keeps his cool.
It’s one thing to stand in there and assume the blame after those occasional uncharacteristic dreadful Seahawks performances like the 14-5 loss at Tampa Bay on Sunday night.
Accountability is required. The captain of the ship is supposed to avoid the icebergs, and Carroll didn’t see this one coming.
But even after disastrous games, and in follow-up media sessions the day after, Carroll is unwaveringly diplomatic, with uncanny self-control.
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Chuck Knox used to have a blue-steel squint that presaged his detonation. Dennis Erickson had veins that would pop out. Mike Holmgren’s face would turn blood-red.
Carroll? California cool.
He has some code words and phrases that can tip you off. When he says of a player, “he made it through,” or “he did OK,” it means that mere survival was the only compliment Carroll could come up with.
If he explains personnel changes with, “just trying to get more competitive” at a position, it means that somebody, anybody, has to be an improvement over the incumbent.
To fully understand what Carroll is trying to say, but is too diplomatic to actually put into words, he needs the kind of “anger translator” employed by the Key and Peele comedy team when they gave President Obama the fictive “Luther” to express appropriate exasperation.
Monday’s press conference would have sounded differently if Carroll had a Luther.
Carroll: “Really disappointed with our performance yesterday from the top down. I thought I didn’t do a good job in this game getting our guys right for it.”
Luther: “How many times do I have to tell them every game’s a championship opportunity? Every week: championship opportunity. Is nobody listening? Yes, I know playing Tampa isn’t a championship, duh. But if you keep throwing away games you oughta be winning then there ain’t gonna be any real championship opportunities. Do I have to explain metaphors to these guys?”
Carroll: “Offense couldn’t get going … I feel like we didn’t adjust the way we wanted to …”
Luther: “No kidding we didn’t adjust. You remember Doug Baldwin flipping the bird at an assistant a couple weeks ago? I know the feeling.”
Carroll (on 14-5 score): “If I told you we were going to give up 14 points, I would have thought that was a pretty darn good football game.”
Luther: “Who was I kidding? It took us three whole games this season to get 14 points. Put together the Rams, Cardinals and Tampa Bay games — 180 minutes of football — and we couldn’t score a single touchdown? Not one. We got four field goals and a safety — 14 points.”
Carroll: “We didn’t do the things we went into the game thinking was necessary.”
Luther: “Like blocking. Maybe I was stupid to think we could block somebody. What are you telling me now, that you have to pay offensive linemen to get guys who can block? I thought all we had to do was feed them and wrap them up with a lot of tape. When they start expecting salaries like the rest of the players?”
Carroll (on offensive line problems): “It wasn’t about communication, we did a good job with our calls.”
Luther: “Yeah, the calls were great, as all those Buccaneer dudes ran past, the linemen kept calling out, ‘Look out, Russ, they’re coming!’ That’s communication.”
Carroll (On Russell Wilson): “He had to adapt to the pressure, and in very typical fashion, he moved more; it got him off the spot more than we like.”
Luther: “That man was running for his life again. Six sacks and 11 hits? How many legs you think he’s got? You think we can just buy him new knees and ankles? Yeah, he threw a coupla picks, but he was hit so much he watched most of the game through his ear-hole. How you gonna find receivers when you got a face-full of Gerald McCoy?”
Carroll (on Michael Bennett’s chances of returning): “… we’re counting on him playing.”
Luther: “What, you think we can use the best defender in the NFL? How many sacks we get last week? Zero! Twenty-eight passes and we only touched Jameis Winston three times? Oh, yeah, we’re counting on Bennett playing. Ya think maybe we’ll be a little better with Earl Thomas back there, too?”
Carroll (on big lead in division): “We’d like to have a couple more wins under our belt right now.”
Luther: “The rest of the NFC West couldn’t challenge in the Pac-12 South. We got that thing wrapped up. But they don’t hold parades for division winners. And if you can’t score and you can’t block, you ain’t gonna get far.”
Carroll: “We have to keep working to play better.”
Luther: “Are you trying to get me started on the offensive line? I mean it … do NOT get me started on that again! I mean it!”