Pete Carroll deals with quirky questions and false premises all the time, but this one surprised him.
He was asked during training camp how the 2014 Seahawks were going to open up the offense and develop a more extensive passing game.
Through a squint, Carroll replied: “Why would we want to do that? We’re just going to keep growing; we’re not changing anything. … I don’t even know why we would. Why would you want that? I like what’s going on.”
Yes, his team had somewhat recently scored a 43-8 technical-knockout of the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII — a team that threw the ball almost exclusively and racked up some of the most gaudy offensive statistics in NFL history.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Olympian
Why would the Seahawks want to be more like a team they just demolished?
As Carroll pointed out, they wouldn’t. And neither would many of the teams in the NFL, who have obviously noted the way the Seahawks have made everything old seem new again.
The RetroHawks were 31st in the league in pass attempts and second in rush attempts. They pounded the ball on the ground, took care of the ball, and stressed defense.
In his nine seasons as Seahawks’ head coach, “Ground Chuck” Knox had only one of his teams average more rushing yardage in a season (1986 — 143.8 per game) than did Carroll’s 2013 Seahawks (136.8).
But nobody is nicknaming Carroll anything like Pedestrian Pete.
Surely, the game has changed, right? It’s dominated by Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees — guys who have to pass for 5,000 yards a season. It’s the way of the league.
Consider this: In the process of ringing up 43 points in the Super Bowl XLVIII, the Seahawks benefitted from fewer passing yards (206) than did the Green Bay Packers (228) while winning Super Bowl I.
Lombardi’s Packers looked like Chip Kelly’s Eagles compared to the 2013 Seahawks.
Here’s what Carroll reminded the NFL: If you run the ball and can stop the run, you can exert physical dominance in any kind of weather at any point in the season.
And while schemes can be devised to stop offensive trickery, schemes can’t help much when your guys simply can’t stand up against physically superior manpower.
Since Week 9 of 2011, when the Hawks decided it was time to saddle up Marshawn Lynch and enforce their will as rushing team, no other back in the league has rushed for more yards (3,788), including Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson (3,538).
And in that time, the Hawks have compiled more ground yards than any team in the league.
With a conservative style and ball-hawking defense, the Hawks are 27-4 under Carroll when they win the turnover battle. They led the league last season with 39 takeaways. They intercepted 28 passes and had just nine intercepted — coming out plus-19 in passing game turnovers.
As for personnel trends, the Seahawks have gone to big and physical secondary players. So other teams are now trying to follow that blueprint.
Seeing how the Seahawks dominated offenses with that secondary last season, the NFL made it a point of emphasis to regulate contact by defensive backs on receivers. When asked whether that was geared toward limiting the influence of the Seahawks’ secondary, Carroll sounded delighted, since the move seemed like a compliment.
The Seahawks’ coaching style, meanwhile, has not only led to NFL imitators, but coaches from other sports have been showing up to take notes on their methods during training camp, including new Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr and Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez.
But Carroll is taking no credit for teams trying to mimic The Seahawk Way.
“We have unique personnel and we’re trying to use them in unique fashions here,” Carroll said. “(That’s) based on what they can do. That’s always the way we’ve looked at it.”
In essence, what others do is up to them.
“We’re just playing ball the way we play,” Carroll said. “We’ll always play to the strengths and uniqueness of our players and hopefully as the guys develop, you learn more. The new guys add something and just seem to fit that together.”
It’s about as old school as it gets.