Pete Carroll has spent the last few weeks touting his new book to everyone from ESPN to shoppers inside a neighbourhood grocery in Seattle.
It’s title: Win Forever.
Yet Coach Carroll isn’t at Southern California anymore. For his new Seahawks, forever is going to have to wait at least five weeks, through a Seahawks training camp that begins Saturday with what seems like more issues than Carroll has pages in his book.
“We’re making progress,” Carroll says of his first NFL team since the 1999 New England Patriots. “And it’s really not time to make any sort of judgment.”
That’s because there’s so much still to judge.
There’s a new offence plus new blocking schemes to install under co-ordinator Jeremy Bates. There’s replacing franchise cornerstone Walter Jones at left tackle with top rookie draft choice Russell Okung, whenever the sixth-overall pick finally signs.
That’s part of a bigger concern fundamental to Seattle’s season: finding five offensive linemen who can consistently protect battered three-time Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who is entering the final year of his contract.
The Seahawks also have to find a running game, a pass rush, new defensive schemes — and perhaps a fountain of youth for 36-year-old safety Lawyer Milloy, in case he starts next to first-round draft pick Earl Thomas.
But none of that will happen until they accomplish their No. 1 camp task: getting used to the energy emanating from their new coach.
Months before his first game, Carroll has already brought in surprise guests to team meetings to entertain, motivate and invigorate a team that has gone 9-23 in the last two seasons and is on its third coach in two years.
Recent All-Pro kick returner Leon Washington arrived from the New York Jets in a trade in April. On one of his first days inside Seahawks headquarters, the running back stopped Carroll in a hallway and almost jumped into his arms.
“I’m stoked! I’m so excited!” Washington told his new coach. “You can feel the energy in the building, in the meetings.”
On the field, that energy is a byproduct of fear. Carroll overturned half the roster in the off-season. He says he’s not done, that the personnel churn could continue through August.
He keeps declaring no job is safe, not even Hasselbeck’s.
“Nobody really wants it that way. They would rather have, ‘OK I know what I am doing, I’m the lead the guy.’ But that doesn’t mean that’s what’s best,” Carroll said.
In March, he traded for former Chargers backup Charlie Whitehurst. He gave Whitehurst a US$8-million contract, even though he has yet to throw a pass during a regular NFL season, to push for Hasselbeck’s job.
Carroll’s not the only one with energy. The constant R-rated rants of new offensive line coach Alex Gibbs and new linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. will bounce off Lake Washington next to the practice field.
Gibbs and Norton have reason to yell. They are trying to develop the keys to Seattle’s season.
Gibbs arrived from the Texans to install his zone-blocking scheme that made rushing stars out of nearly anybody Denver put in its backfield during the 1990s. Gibbs has former Broncos starting guard Ben Hamilton in Seattle to tutor Okung as his neighbour on the left side of the line. Thursday he welcomed former Texans starting guard Chester Pitts on a $2-million free-agent deal.
The question remains: Can this line keep Hasselbeck, who turns 35 in September, healthy enough to play in all 16 regular-season games for the first time since 2007, Seattle’s last playoff season?
Norton is trying to transform Aaron Curry, last year’s fourth-overall pick, into a think-less, run-more pass rusher. He’s trying to restore the excellence of former Pro Bowl middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu, who is healthy again and back in the defence in which he starred at USC.
Norton is also welcoming back Leroy Hill from legal troubles that kept him from the team for most of the spring. The start of Hill’s trial on a domestic-violence charge was delayed Thursday until Aug. 20. The league suspended him for the opener.