seahawks-story

A Team Full of Coaches

How the Seahawks’ system of checks and balances, with lots of tough love, has molded them into a contender

By
Jim Trotter
· More from Jim·

RENTON, Wash. — Sidney Rice burst off the line of scrimmage, sprinted roughly 15 yards downfield, then cut left through the center of the Seattle defense during a recent practice. When he got back to the sideline he stopped and asked teammate Jermaine Kearse to critique the route.

“It looked all right. It looked pretty good,” the second-year wideout answered.

Rice then turned to third-year pro Doug Baldwin and asked what he thought of the route.

“You rounded it a little bit at the top,” he said.

Two different players. Two different responses. One unfiltered reaction.

“Jermaine,” Rice barked. “Don’t lie to me again. Tell the truth.”

The Seahawks are a popular pick to reach the Super Bowl because they’ve added several quality pieces to a club that finished 11-5 and came within eight seconds of reaching the NFC Championship Game last season. Much of the focus is on their depth, athleticism and talent, but another key factor is personal accountability. The players demand it of each other in practices and games.

“I tell the guys, ‘If you see something wrong with what I’m doing, tell me. Don’t hold back because I’m the leader of the group. I want to be criticized, too,’ ” says Rice. “If you can accept that from the guys that you work with every day, you develop the trust that you need to be successful. We just want to see each other do well.”

The commitment to accept nothing but each other’s best jumped out during my visiting to training camp last week. Other teams talk it, but the Seahawks practice it. To be more accurate, they demand it. Doesn’t matter if you’re a rookie or an All-Pro.

Bobby Wagner was a second-round pick who was placed in the middle of a talented defense last year as a rookie. Despite playing well and earning consideration for Defensive Rookie of the Year, he found himself out of position at times. He might’ve been in the “A” gap (between the center and guard) when he should have been in the “B” gap (between the guard and tackle). But despite his youth and inexperience, teammates cut him no slack. In the heat of battle they told him his play was unacceptable.

When Richard Sherman, arguably the game’s best cornerback, was beaten by Rams rookie Chris Givens for a 52-yard catch and run last season, teammates bluntly told Sherman he had to do better, not only because it was paramount for their bump-and-run coverage to work, but also because they expected more from him. Two plays later when QB Sam Bradford tested him again, Sherman was there for the interception. Not that he felt vindicated, though.

“That just brought me back to even,” he says. “My thinking was that I had to make another play to get on the plus side. That’s just how we hold each other accountable. It’s like big brothers and little brothers. You don’t ever want to let them down.”

The Seahawks sometimes get chided as a team that talks too much, particularly the vociferous Sherman. But their most important words are directed at each other, not opponents. During practice, when it appears the wideouts and cornerbacks are jawing at each other—which does happen—the sides are often providing insight into why one got the better of the other.

The Seahawks get chided as a team that talks too much, but their most important words are directed at each other.

“Today you saw a few guys catch balls, and they weren’t like, ‘Yeah! Yeah! I got you! Get some!’ ” says wideout Golden Tate. “The first thing I’m doing is going over to tell [cornerback Brandon] Browner how I caught the ball on him. Just like when Walter Thurmond gets the best of me off the line of scrimmage or in a route; he tells me, ‘Your stem was this way, or your shoulders were turned.’ That’s what we do.”

Spend time around the Seahawks and it becomes apparent the players genuinely like and respect each other. The wideouts don’t just hang with the wideouts, they’re also spending times with the defensive backs and joking with the offensive linemen. Sherman estimates that the cornerbacks spent more time with each other than they did with their own families. “We were together probably eight or nine months the last year,” he says.

This bodes well for the coming season, because championship squads are as much about good chemistry as they are about good talent. There are going to be moments that test a club’s collective mettle, that force teammates to look each other in the eyes and ask audibly or silently, Can I count on you?

In Seattle, criticism isn’t viewed as a means of tearing someone down. It’s considered a way of building him up, ensuring he won’t make the same mistake twice. That requires egos to be checked at the locker room door, which is where the Seahawks leave theirs.

“We all see each other as family,” Tate says. “We have a few rules, and one of them is to protect the team at all costs. Whatever the situation is, on the field, off the field—protect the team. That means demanding the best from each of us. That’s important to us because we’ve all bought in to what coach [Pete] Carroll expects from us. Every day we come with that in mind.

“I know when we take the practice field, I don’t play for myself. I play for the guys around me because we all know how good we can be as long as we don’t let what people are saying on the outside get to us. We also know there’s always room for improvement, which is why we demand so much from each other. It’s never personal. It’s all about getting better.”

The MMQB crew has hit the road for training camps. Check out all our coverage.

50 comments
BrandonDickey
BrandonDickey

Funny stuff, so many seen how good the hawks were, but still don't want to admit that they have the talent to be the best. A lot of it comes from their work ethics and how much of a family they have become. I for one can't express how happy I am for this Seahawks team, and how excited I am to be a season ticket holder. 2013 is gonna be a great year, and all you haters can just keep on hating. It's just dust on our shoulders, bout to be brushed off for good. Go Hawks 4 life

David50
David50

Since when are the Seahawks so good.

one good season lets see now what happens.

mystafugee
mystafugee

Here's the big thing that's different this year with Seattle and it's a big one: expectations.  Last year the team had none, nobody expected them to do anything.  So they were playing with house money last year. This year is different, they have big expectations, that doesn't mean they'll sink but this doesn't strike me as the type of team (strong veteran leadership) that is built to withstand.  Like the previous poster said, this team does reek of the Eagles a couple years ago.  

MatthewCortina
MatthewCortina

So much hype for a team with a 2nd-year QB who played well in less than 50% of his games, their top two WRs facing injuries, a coach that historically talks more than he wins, the toughest division in football, a string of PED-related suspensions, and a team that wouldn't have made the playoffs had it not been for a blown Hail Mary call. This team stinks of the Dream Team Eagles of two years ago.

BenjiStBenji
BenjiStBenji

I'm a huge Niners fan and can't wait for Sep 13th!!!  Going to be a war

Rick58
Rick58

King sure is in love with this team. I'm just glad this article calls them contenders, and not elite like on some other sites. I'm a pack fan and if GB and Seattle both make the playoffs I would like a rematch in a game that means something. No backup refs, no excuses, just head to head football. Then if Seattle prevails, I will except that GB was the second best team that faithful day.

Rick58
Rick58

King sure is in love with this team. I like that they say it is a contending team rather than an elite team.

mystafugee
mystafugee

@BrandonDickey Work ethic and how much of a family they have become?  I hate it when people say that because that's like saying I guess all the other teams apparently are lazy and the players all hate each other.  That sounds suspiciously like the type of praise people gave/give Tebow (i.e. works hard).  

BradR
BradR

@mystafugee 

This team is nothing like the "Dream Team" Eagles. The 2013 Hawks will return 20 out of 22 starters on O and D. They didn't bring in FA stars to fill holes- they brought in a couple FAs to supplement one of the 2 or 3 most talented and probably deepest roster (oh and one of the youngest) in the NFL... Try again.

ColinProctor
ColinProctor

@MatthewCortina curious what's even prompting you to speak on it. You have a serious opinion about a team you seem to not care for. Most people would probably tune the article out if they didn't agree with it. But you show an amount of vitriol towards the events of last season that make it impossible for fans of the team to absorb whatever point it is you're trying to make. 

This is a Seahawks article - it's likely that fans of the Seahawks will be happy to refute your superficial claims and comparisons on this board. If you want to call that homerism, you should probably check who's lawn you're standing in on your way back to your own. I call it routing for your team.

Your bias comes off as uneducated, because anyone who watched the development of the season last year knows better about how to gauge both RW's success and this team's chemistry. That's not Homerism, it's a product of people who have been paying very close attention to their team. 

And BTW, you don't know any better than anyone else how this season is going to shape up, so go back to your cave, troll. 

BrandonDickey
BrandonDickey

Damn dude get your facts straight. Hawks played well in all there games last year, didn't lose by more then 7 points in any game. One win didn't decide our playoff birth and only one more win and they would have won the division. It coming soon and you won't be able to deny how good of a team Seattle has when they dominate every other team in the NFL.

65_dave
65_dave

@MatthewCortina 

Hey Genius. 

That 2nd year QB was one of only 2 rookie QBs ever to have a passer rating over 100. He was one of only 2 rookie QBs EVER to have thrown 26 TDs in a single season. The other guy? Peyton Manning, and he threw 28 INTs that same year. He was 2nd to Cam Newton for total TDs by a Rookie QB. So please, Spare me. 

Top receivers. To finish the season last year the Seahawks averaged 34ppg. Without Harvin. And Rice isn't injured! He has Patellar Tendinitis, for which he received treatment for and has already resumed practice. Again, spare me.

PEDs. Seattle has had 6 players according to the media test positive for one PED or another. What they don't tell you is that 1 of those players never played for the Seahawks and had his test administered before he was even at training camp. What they don't tell you is that 1 of those players has a legit prescription but as a rookie failedu even  to have the correct paperwork filed to ensure he could continue to take it. That chalks it down to 4 players. 1 being Richard Sherman, who won his appeal. The Washington Redskins have had just as many PED related suspensions but nobody cares.

Would not be in the playoffs? Do you even pay attention to football? Do you know how the postseason works? Even if the Pack had won that game the Hawks would have finished 10-6, with the 5th seed. The same exact seed they had. They held the tie breakers over both the Vikes and the Bears.

And as for the Dream team? Man you are an idiot. The Eagles built their team through FA. Of the 22 projected starters for the Seahawks this next year, 15 were drafted by the team and the other 7 have been on the team for over 2 yrs. All the FA signing were for DEPTH, not starting roles. 

zipflopomg
zipflopomg

@MatthewCortina less than 50% of games? how do you explain an 11-5 record, of which they 1 of the 5 losses were in the last 8 regular season games. not to mention go look at some of the lopsided offensive numbers put up in the second half of the season, against some elite (and not so elite) teams. find some facts to back up your claim about a sub-par quarterback.

65_dave
65_dave

@Rick58 @Rick58 Man you Packer fans just won't stop crying. Instead of worrying about Seattle worry about your offensive line situation and the Niners Bearing down in week one. 8 Sacks. 8 against the Seahawks. You just lost your left Tackle, who wasn't even a left tackle to begin with! You guys are hosed week one. Freaking cry baby.

MatthewCortina
MatthewCortina

@zipflopomg @MatthewCortina I agree QB play is subjective. They started 4-4 (that's 50% of their regular season games). In those first 8 games, he never threw for more than 300 yards, he threw as many TDs as INTs, and he had passer ratings of 35, 45, 62 and 82. The other four games: NE and Dallas who were in the bottom half of total defense last year and GB (against whom they scored only 7 legitimate points) and Detroit. Now what about the other points I brought up?

mystafugee
mystafugee

@qwerty2002 @BrandonDickey They aren't lazy, as for hating each other, that's a product of losing not vice-versa.  When things turn south for the Seahawks, we'll see how happy of a family they are.  

ColinProctor
ColinProctor

@mystafugee Mr. Fugly is back in a Hawks article! What a shock! Oh and he's talking loud, but he isn't saying anything! WOW!

65_dave
65_dave

@MatthewCortina @GasolineSnuggie @65_dave @HienHoang WHAT GOOD POINTS HAHAHA??!?!?!? We refuted everything you said! With actual facts! Even your most asinine "Fact" of the Hawks missing the playoffs had not the beaten GB. Your response to actual facts being presented:

"Welp we'll see."

"Take it easy. This isn't a back alley."

"Haha I love defensive fans. It's a real mark of confidence."

MatthewCortina
MatthewCortina

@GasolineSnuggie @65_dave @MatthewCortina @HienHoang What I want to say is enjoy your circlejerk, guys. But I just posted about bringing civility to the discussion. 

What I like most is how bothered the two of you have gotten. Notice how when someone posts garbage and can't speak, you ignore them. But when someone brings up good points, you turn into over-compensating, defensive savages. I'll say it again: Grow up. 

Lots of support for a franchise that's never won a Super Bowl and who's most famous moment is when Matt Hasslebeck predicted a touchdown and threw it straight to Al Harris to lose the 2003 divisional playoff.

Enjoy your season. Good luck. AND GO PACK GO!

MatthewCortina
MatthewCortina

@GasolineSnuggie @HienHoang @MatthewCortina Haha "barring any injuries." That's part of the game. Green Bay won the Super Bowl in 2010 with 15 guys on IR, including 8 or so starters.


Listen, I'm a fan of football. And I've watched a lot of it for a long time. I'm no expert, but I know that only one team can win the Super Bowl. And to talk and to present your team as if it is a foregone conclusion that they'll win is foolish. I'll put my money on New England, Pittsburgh, New York, Green Bay or New Orleans before I put it on Seattle this year, because they've been there. They have established QBs. They build through the draft. And they act like a team. Seattle may do some of those things, but they haven't done it for very long. Can they do it? Sure. And they demand respect, but let's just calm down the rhetoric.


And I don't see why a counter-argument is disrespectful. If you can't handle criticism for your team and come up with an intelligent, non-derogatory rebuttal, then don't expect respect from other commenters. Don't assume I'm a fan of some rival team because I want to have a discussion about the Seahawks. I'm not like you--I want to debate this team, not make you feel stupid for thinking the way you do. Grow up and try to raise the level of discourse on this site.

GasolineSnuggie
GasolineSnuggie

@HienHoang @MatthewCortina @GasolineSnuggie Hien Hoang, it's about spewing negative factoids because of personal jealousy or bias ("and a team that wouldn't have made the playoffs had it not been for a blown Hail Mary call" - still the 5th seed, and arguably the right call). It's about respect (the Adderall crap was spoon-fed to Matthews all over America for page clicks and TV ratings). Re-read Matthew's first comment and see if you can spot the blatant uneducated-commenter trash-talk (let's analyze half of RW's season without context!!!). 

I have no idea why Matthew has a personal vendetta against the Hawks (maybe he's a 49er fan or jealous Vikings fan? maybe he doesn't know much about football?), but it's disrespectful to comment like his ideas mean something when we Hawks fans know exactly what team we have. We know the potential and the results that potential can lead to - both positive and negative. And I don't know about you, but I respond to the tone that is directed at me with similar tone. I don't need some smart*** telling me what's proper. If I see ignorance, I'll respond harshly.

Personally, I wouldn't disrespect another fanbase by going on an article about their team and commenting with the assumption that my views are as good as fact. That's just me though, and maybe the internet doesn't necessitate values...

Bookmarked, Matthew. I'll check it in January. Barring major injuries, I fully expect this team to be 11-5 or better.

HienHoang
HienHoang

@MatthewCortina

@GasolineSnuggie Why do fans have to get so defensive when people say anything negative about their teams?  The proper response should be, alright Matthew, see you at the end of the year and how would you like your crow served?

vasanth_n
vasanth_n

@formido @MatthewCortina @GasolineSnuggie @zipflopomg 

All stellar points from everyone. I am not vested to the Hawks - i live in phoenix but i admire the Hawks greatly. The cards will be lucky to make 7-9. Palmer was pedestrian at best the last few seasons.

 I love Wilson and I think he will be good - he was phenomenal in the 2nd half of the season and did fairly well in the playoffs as well (102 QB rating with 3 TDs, 1 running TD and 1 INT). I hate Sherman's mouth but admire his play.

I also agree with Matthew though - a lot of these spread QBs will be "figured out" now that the NFL has had a year of film. My personal belief is that Kaepernick, Wilson and RG3 are due for a correction in their Sophomore season. I also think that the 49ers are going to be in a spot of bother with their secondary in a mess. Rams will be improved but not sure if they can beat SF and Seattle 2 times each. This division will be a dog-fight between those 3 teams (not the cards - Palmer is not half as decent as Luck. Luck already has matched Palmer's playoff record in 1 season) but I still see Seattle and SF in the playoffs. The Hawks D is way too good not to get them there.

formido
formido

@MatthewCortina @GasolineSnuggie @zipflopomg 

As a rookie, Wilson improved so much over the course of the season that, over the last 10 games, he led the NFL in ESPN's QBR. You don't like QBR? He also led the NFL in passer rating and ANY/A over that span.

BTW, far from Seattle getting lucky with the Green Bay win, Seattle significantly underperformed its Pythagorean wins. Their record belied how good they actually were, as being #1 in DVOA at Football Outsiders attests.

You've obviously got a lot invested in your "Seattle is overrated" narrative. You'll save yourself a lot of heartache if you analyze this issue a little more objectively. Things don't quite appear to be heading the way you think they are. :(

MatthewCortina
MatthewCortina

@GasolineSnuggie @MatthewCortina This is what we'll do, guys. I'll bookmark this page. Midway through the season, or maybe after season we'll come back to it and see how the season went. Not after week 3 when Russell Wilson leads the league in Passer Rating bc they beat up on Carolina and Jacksonville, but after the season. Good luck. You'll need it if your expectations are as high as they seem.

GasolineSnuggie
GasolineSnuggie

@MatthewCortina You're in denial and/or full of jealousy. Especially if you think you are using facts. 

Once again, have fun watching the Seattle Seahawks make your team look like a college team.

65_dave
65_dave

@MatthewCortina @GasolineSnuggie @zipflopomg

Stop being a hater and look at this team objectively.

"Half the season, he was sub-par." Exactly, half the season. The 1st Half. And for the 2nd half he had the highest QB in ALL OF FOOTBALL, not just the NFC West, not just the NFC, all of the NFL.

 "St. Louis beat you last year and has only improved." On a fake field goal. And you seem to leave out how we beat them also. And you seem to think the Hawks have been sitting on their laurels all off season.

"And they have a real QB now and the best defensive player in football." Who pray tell is this "best defensive player in football"? 

" I was referring to the amount of talk compared to the results." Give me a link to where the team itself has referred to itself as a "Dream Team" or anything of the like.

Again, all of the FA signings are for DEPTH. Harvin was a trade and is the only guy expected to be a starter, and again. Did fine without him last year.

MatthewCortina
MatthewCortina

@GasolineSnuggie@MatthewCortina@zipflopomgFacts are not banter. Stats are not banter. Stop being a homer and look at this team objectively; it'll save you heartache in the long run.

Half the season, he was sub-par. I showed that with stats above. His stats were padded in a few blowout wins.

Harvin won't be back til at least after Thanksgiving.

If you're older than 25, you are aware of Pete Carroll's history. If this is your first experience with him, then yeah I'm sure he's great at the moment.

I'd check Arizona and St. Louis in your rearview mirror. St. Louis beat you last year and has only improved. Arizona has a coach that took a terrible Colts team last year in crazy adversity and made it a playoff team. And they have a real QB now and the best defensive player in football.

A team with that many suspensions should raise red flags. It'll come back to bit you.

Percy Harvin, Cliff Avril big free agents. I wasn't talking about the way the team was built when I compared them to the dream team (although Harvin and Avril came over this year), I was referring to the amount of talk compared to the results.

You can believe what you want.

GasolineSnuggie
GasolineSnuggie

@MatthewCortina @zipflopomg All of your points are baseless banter.

One of the best rookie seasons of all-time. 100.0 QB rating. Who else has done that? Marino? 26 TDs and 10 INTs. Manning threw 26, but he also threw 28 INTs! 

Harvin wasn't on the team last year and his return will help an already strong group. Rice's procedure was long-scheduled and not in response to anything new. 

PC doesn't talk at all really - unless you're talking about press conferences...? 

It's the toughest division in football because it has Seattle and San Francisco. SEATTLE and San Francisco.

PED violations have been overblown by the media. 

They would have been the 5th seed with a 10-6 record.

This team has been built through the draft and has stars playing on 3rd and 5th round contracts. They're nothing like the "Dream Team".

Have fun watching Seattle make your team look like a college squad.

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