SeattleSeahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll
Q: Compare the difference between your team at home and on the road.
A: It has been pretty clear that our ability to get turnovers has all happened here and we haven't been able to get the ball away from people when we're on the road, so it's just been a big factor. We've had such a difference in that aspect of it. It's the crowd, it's the place, it's everything about this place, but we have to find our ways to take the football off of people and even when we met Chicago on the road, we only had a safety, we got them for a safety. We didn't get the ball off of them one time in that game. So it's been much harder to play the style and the fashion that we'd like to on the road.
Q: What have you seen from the Giants in the weeks before the bye?
A: Well, they're a very well balanced team loaded with good, tough guys that can play in the style that Tom wants. They have terrific balance on offense with mixing their run and their pass with Bradshaw and then going to Eli with all of the throwing game and the receivers that they have – they really have a great setup there. Defensively, they have a terrific front that has really come to life in particular since the Chicago game. I'm sure it just took them a little time to get used to Perry and what he's doing and what he's expected of them and they've really responded beautifully and they give you all kinds of problems all across the board.
Q: What insight can you provide on Steve Smith and Terrell Thomas?
A: Oh, those are terrific kids. They were great performers in our program for years. Both of those guys did everything that you would hope a college kid could do – they were terrific in school, they did a great job on the field for us in representing us and they're doing a great job representing in the league as well.
Q: Did you like one of them more than the other?
A: Uh…no. I wouldn't say that. I like them both. That's a funny question. I like their families too. After all the years we were together and the tremendous amount of fun times and success we had, we'll always have a connection and those guys were really centerpiece guys in our program on both sides of the ball – they both had big impacts. The fun thing – those were good guys to deal with, too, they were fun to coach and to compete with.
Q: How is Steve a different receiver now than he was in college?
A: I don't think he's that much different. I think he's very similar. He had the extreme ability to catch the football. He has fantastically natural hands, just beautiful hand-eye coordination and it carried over to not just when he played football. He was a great basketball player growing up as well. He would love that I said that about him and he couples that with excellent body control and fantastic foot quickness. He has such great ability to run routes. He did all of that stuff for us. He really is playing very much the same role, so I'm not surprised by it a bit. I'm thrilled that everybody likes him so much and he's had such an impact on their team and showed the success over a number of years. I love that about what Steve's been able to do.
Q: What is the status of Matt Hasslebeck?
A: He's going to miss today's work on the field. He's out here with us and all, but we're going to give him one more day of rest. He got banged in the head and just needs another day. He feels good and is looking bright-eyed and all that, but the doctors want to give him one more day before we run him around, so we'll give him a day off – gives Charlie Whitehurst a chance to take over in a rare opportunity during the season to get all the reps for a day. We'll try to max out on trying to help him get better.
Q: Did you put a claim in for Randy Moss?
Q: How have you been able to get production out of Mike Williams that hasn't been there before?
A: Well, I'd like to say it's all because I'm coaching him again, but that's not really the case. Mike was a great football player for us the two years we had him and then he got sideswiped a little bit by his decisions and things and it didn't work out for a couple of years. When Mike came back to us here, when we tried him out, he was in great shape, he was determined to make something of himself and he had the kind of look in his eye that you want to see in great players and guys that are determined and that's all Mike has been for us. He's really been a great competitor and a great team member and has done everything you could ask of him since he's been back with us and he's off to a really good start. He didn't have a good game last week, he got banged up a little bit, but he's determined to continue to be a big factor in our team.
Q: How has the third time around been different for you as an NFL coach?
A: It is different. It's different because I feel like I've been here before. You always wish you could say that, but it feels like that. I'm very comfortable of what's asked of me in the job. The years at SC helped me get my whole system together and even working in charge of the personnel for nine years there, it gives you a better perspective of how to deal with that whole element of the NFL, which I didn't have in my past, so I'm just more comfortable with it and I'm enjoying it more than ever and I hope that I can do a good job for the program here.
Q: Is there anything about the college game that you miss more?
A: Yeah. I miss a lot of things. I miss winning every week. That was really fun. We won for a long time there and that almost isn't accessible here in the league – it's so even and so competitive. That part of it I'll never forget and the great fun of being around the whole campus atmosphere in Southern California and it is such a great history and heritage. It was really, really cool to be a part of that and to be representing all of the great coaches and players that had been there before. I never ever lost contact with that feeling and that sense of it, so it's different. That part of it is different. Being tied to an alumni base and that is different than in the NFL, city and all, so I always will be grateful for those times.
Q: Leon Washington had a gruesome injury last year. Did you consider it a gamble when you acquired him last year?
A: Well, a little bit. We went through all of the medical stuff and tried to figure it all out and then we had to hope that it was going to work out like everybody thought and our guys felt like he was going to get better and that it was an injury that he could recover from and just learning about his nature and all of that gave us the sense that he would overcome it no matter what. He's a remarkable kid, just a great, great competitive character and we love him and he would not let this get in the way and he's back to full speed. It's taken him some time to really be at full go, but he's back now and he's a big factor on our football team.
Q: What made you realize that Mike Williams could make a comeback after a couple of years out of the league?
A: Well, I would be one that…I doubted that he would be able to get back after the couple of years that he was out honestly, but we thought let's take a shot and see what he looks like. I gave a bunch of my guys opportunities that I'd been with in years past and Mike was one of the guys who really was ready for the moment and captured it, so knowing that he was such a dominant player – I look back and Michael was the best freshman in the history of college football at receiver and the best sophomore ever, statistically, so that's all I knew of him. He played for me two years and that was it, so I thought he would be a terrific pro and when he wasn't I was disappointed, so when we saw him work out with us and looked at the look in his eye and what he was saying and his determination, then the sky was the limit. We wind up three years later getting a number one draft pick receiver playing for us, so we're really thrilled about it and hope that we can continue to help him be effective.
Q: Can the noise at Qwest field be overrated or is it really that intense?
A: I don't know. They'll have to see for themselves again. I think it's a legitimate factor and our fans are dedicated to making it so. The construct of the stadium, the makeup of the fans – it's just deafening, so that can be a factor for us and we have to keep them going. We have to keep them going and keep us playing well so that it fuels them, so they are very tough minded and they are going to make it as difficult as any stadium that these guys can go in.
Q: Has the NFL game changed much since the last time you've been here?
A: What comes to me is that there's a lot more of a reliance on and willingness to throw the football – more yards being thrown for than ever and more quarterbacks throwing for a lot of yards and there's a greater comfort zone with it, but I don't think that's unique to the NFL. I see it throughout college football, throughout high school and even youth football with the shotgun and opportunities for guys to throw the ball around the field and all. I think you see it everywhere more so than in the past. It's just kind of the evolution of the game.
Q: Just to clarify on Moss…
A: I can't clarify it any more than saying we didn't put a claim in. That's it. That's all. That's easy. There's nothing else to clarify. We just didn't do that.
Seahawks RB/KR Leon Washington
Q: You miss it back east?
A: Yeah, I miss it a little bit because I'd be about to get off work right now if I was still there. Our day is just about starting underway. I miss those guys on the Jets and miss everything about New York. There's a bunch of friends back there and so much support out there. I spent four years of my life there, so quite naturally, I miss it.
Q: How much pressure do you put on yourself knowing that you're the dominant factor that gives the Seahawks an edge Sunday?
A: I didn't know that I was the only factor to which we'd win the game. Like always, I have a lot of pride in what I do. In everything I do, I try to be the best at it. When I get opportunities to do what I do, I try to do take advantage of it. Just like any other week in the season, I'm trying to go out and give my team a chance to win, just like I did in New York. I relish that opportunity, and try to take advantage of it.
Q: How much has the scheme of Seattle's special teams helped you out?
A: It helped us a lot. Coach Schneider and Ulbrich, our two special teams coaches, they're really good. I got a great guy to measure them by, Mike Westhoff. They are right up there with their coaching, teaching, and everything. It's an honor to have an opportunity to play on the Seahawks special teams. We're really good at what we do. We try to win football games when we go out there, so it's good to have a group of guys that you have to trust and go out there and get the job done for you.
Q: The Giants special teams haven't been particularly good. Do you see them having schematic problems or not making plays?
A: Early on, they gave up some big plays but they haven't given up anything really, really dramatic. They're a physical group, they're going to come down and try to hit you. They're playing well, and the last two games they have been playing well on special teams and I look for them to continue that. I know there is tradition behind the Giants, and I know they're going to be ready to play. Like I said before, it's just a great opportunity just to play another football game and have an opportunity to play with the Giants.
Q: How do you explain the difference between your team at home and on the road?
A: I think one of the biggest differences is that when you're on the road, you have to create your own energy and the fans aren't going to give you any energy and you have to create it yourself. When we're at home on Qwest Field, it's one of the toughest places to play at. It's so loud, and the opposing team can really struggle with the cadence and everything. At Qwest Field, we have the twelfth man and it's probably the best in the National Football League. They give us that advantage. On the road, we have to create our own energy and so far this season we're struggling to do that.
Q: How do you feel the way things worked out for you in Seattle?
A: I'm a mature guy, and I put a lot of things in perspective with my faith and my family. How I look at it is that the Jets didn't have anything to do with me breaking my leg. That was football, and they didn't have anything to do with that. Thank God I got another opportunity to go out there and play the game that I so love to do. I love all of the guys on that team, I love a lot of coaches on the Jets coaching staff, and I had a tremendous four years there. Much respect there. I know they have a good window of getting to the Super Bowl, and I kind of missed that. All in all, just having an opportunity to play football again, that's my biggest thrill this year.
Q: You surprised you were able to bounce back from a gruesome injury so quickly?
A: Not really because, as I know some of you guys are over at the Jets training facility, you guys can vividly remember a couple of months after the injury, I was moving around on the bike and they started to getting the hydro works and all that running in the water. What I was surprised about was how much help I had along the way. I had a lot of people who were critical in an emotional and physical support for getting me back. My wife was my biggest, biggest, biggest reason why I am where I am right now. She supported me, she took care of the kids and all that while I was going through my injury. I had a lot of help along the way, and with my work ethic, faith, and ability that God has blessed me with, I didn't have any doubt or surprise about how much help I've had.
Q: Do you think about what could have been if you stayed in New York?
A: Man, I guess you could think could of/would of. I know those guys on that team, and they're really good players and really talented. Like I said, they have a really good window of getting to the Super Bowl with so many good players on that team. That part, I think, could have, but secondly I have a great opportunity with the Seahawks. They wanted me, they traded for me even when I was hurt. I'm going to take advantage of this opportunity that I have over here and try to make the best of it.
Q: Rex Ryan has talked a lot about you. Do you keep in contact with him?
A: No. I haven't talk to Rex. Last time I talked to him was when I got traded. I know Rex and he's a players' coach and he's a really good guy. He's an honest, straightforward guy. I don't really need to talk to him because I know what type of coach he is, and he loves his players and cares about them. It's good to get compliments from that type of guy, because he has coached in the league for a long time and he has coached a lot of special players. I'm just thankful that it's compliments.
Q: What about Pete Carroll, is he a players' coach?
A: Yeah, Pete is similar to Rex in a lot of fashions. Players want to go out and play for him. He brings a lot of energy to the practices and to the game, so I'm just fortunate to have a coach such as Pete that demands a lot of his players, which all coaches do. He makes the game of football fun, and that's all you can ask for as a player.
Q: Does part of you want to show the Jets they made a mistake letting you walk?
A: Not at all, I'm constantly trying to prove to myself. Right when I got injured and coming back on the practice field, a lot of things I was doing before took some time to get back to the old Leon and doing some of the things he did before. Every week, I go out and try to prove to myself that "OK, can I do this move still or that move still or can I break away from guys like I used to?" Every week, I felt better and better in doing things and trying to prove to myself.
Q: What did the San Diego game do for you?
A: For one, it was really something incredible for my kids to read. Dad broke his leg, and so many people think that's an injury that you can't come back from, especially at my position, so it's something they can read and use as motivation to never give up, always face adversity, and fight through it. Secondly, it shows how well I'm blessed, and how hard I fight as an individual. I have so much help from my wife and we fought through this thing. Just the opportunity to play football again, it says a lot that it's like a period in that short book I was writing for my kids to read that their Dad is back.
Q: Would you have agreed to a long term deal with the Jets and hoped it worked out differently?
A: I thought we left that along guys. I would do the same exact thing. The contract I had on the table was the contract, and people don't know the details, but I'd do the same thing: go out there and play football. That's what I do, so the same thing.
Q: Still in contact with Jets players?
A: Oh yeah, no doubt. Sanchez, Brad, Jerricho, big Woody, Dustin Keller, Ihedigbo, James. A lot of those guys text me all the time and we pretty much text each other week to week. I tell them good luck on the game this Sunday and they'll text me and say I did a good job, so we still talk a lot. When I come up to the New York area now and then, I hang out with some of those guys.