Silly Season (or How I Learned to Love Pete Carroll)

The off-season in sports is often referred to as the silly season.  I’m not sure that I like the name of that.  I get where it’s coming from, there’s so much speculation and people are watching the trades and the signings and hoping that their team is going to sign this guy and that guy.  I think I can see through the silliness sometimes.  The championship isn’t always won in the off-season, is it?  Rome wasn’t built in a day much less three months.  Although I do like to think it burned in a day.  Nero stood over in the corner and fiddled while it burned.  Some general managers of teams stand over in the corner and fiddle while franchises go up in smoke.

I don’t seem to recall last year’s NFL off-season.  Maybe I was disenchanted.  Maybe I had other things on my mind.  I just can’t seem to place myself in it.  It doesn’t seem to have hit me like this years’.  Who would have seen the Seahawks blowing up their offensive line to get a guy like Jimmy Graham?  Or Chip Kelly going out and getting Sam Bradford?  I thought for sure he was going to go get his old QB(not that I’m not convinced he isn’t still going out for him).  The Bills getting him to trade Shady McCoy to them for Kelly’s old LB Kiko?  Where the hell did that come from?  Talk about watching Rome burn.  So in the span of a week, you’ve dumped your old QB, RB, watched WRs and OLs walk in free agency.  Nero would be exceptionally proud.  It’s no longer Lincoln Financial Field folks, it’s the Roman Coliseum and they are going to start handing out togas and drink wine out of chalices.  Mongols are heading for Philly.  Changes are afoot in Philly.

But they always say you can’t win the championship in the off-season, it’s more about what you do in the regular season.  I just have to wonder about some of the deals though.  The free agent signings, the draft coming up; can you really expect to draft and trade and sign to find yourself in a prime position?  I would have to think that maybe you’d have to have a strong base to begin with.

Let’s take Seattle.  I do have to think the Jimmy Graham trade is a head-scratcher for me.  Look, they were a play call away from a 2nd straight Super Bowl title.  Now you take Russell Wilson’s protective blanket in Max Unger and ship him and your first round draft pick to New Orleans for a tight end.  Granted the tight end can line up in the slot, out wide or on the line, he’s big and strong and causes match-up problems, but he had issues with his shoulder last year.  Yes he played through it, but if he gets hurt, they are now worried about a center position AND a tight end position.  Whereas they already had the center position locked up.  Plus they had that first round pick.  I know the Seahawks are great at finding gems in the draft.  I’m a huge Pete Carroll fan.  I love his mentality.  The way he coaches up guys, the team first, playing up to potential and being able to step up and compete.  That’s what it’s about, you don’t play the other guys as much you do yourself, finding a way to compete and win by beating that nagging feeling inside yourself that says you can’t do it.  They’ve built this strong defense by finding this guys that other people have cast off as not being able to play.  Sherman, Chancellor, Wagner among others.  It’s this mentality that “I can bring in guys to play in my system, I’ll get them to play to the best of their ability by convincing them to be positive, knowing they can do it and not letting anyone tell them they can’t.”

At this level it’s all about finding that edge.  Carroll seems to have found that edge.  His book is excellent at explaining it.  It makes you want to play for him because you know at some point you are going to do something wrong, but he’s not going to run over there and just yell at you about it, he’s going to yell at you because he knows you are better than that.  He’s going to tell you that because you are better than that, you are going to go out there next time and kick someone’s butt.  He expects a lot out of you, but at the same time, he rewards you.  You can see it in the culture, you see it in the way the guys play.  The way they rally around one another.  Watch the NFC Championship game where Kam Chancellor is mic’d up.  You’ll see how he never gives up.  It’s an underlying theme Carroll’s philosophy.  Don’t quit on me now.  Did you happen to catch the NBC interview with him and Matt Lauer?  That man is positivity to a T.  Only once did he let that play call get to him.  Meanwhile on Twitter he’s being called “world’s worst coach” or it’s the “worst play call ever.”  But the team sticks together.  He calls them family because he believes in it.  It’s not just words.  It’s a way of life.  The amazing thing about this is that he doesn’t go out on the first day of free agency and sign this guy and that guy.  He builds relationships and makes people better.  He’s made a philosophy.  He wants to make you better through it.  Whatever you want to do in football you do it through competing.  Never stop competing.  Why would you ever stop competing?  Every day compete.  Get better every day.  That’s what he’s about.  Don’t look back on yesterday you can’t change it.  Build up yourself and get back on the field.  That’s what I’ve learned about Pete Carroll.

Silly Season?  Well it seems like to me Silly Season is any season without Pete Carroll in it.  These guys running around signing anyone and everyone are just filling rosters like a video game.  That’s not a philosophy, it’s filling rosters.  You don’t know what you are going to get until you get on the field.  But when you sit down with your players and learn about them take away the barriers and edges and make it priority to build a roster with guys that want to play together not just for the money well that’s a winner.  Nero burned down Rome in a day and by the look of it, some people in the NFL are trying to do it, meanwhile, some people are doing their best to build something to stand up long past the embers have gone out.


A New York State of Mind

It seems that the Rangers are on the upswing again.  Last season it was the game against the Penguins when they blew them out 5-1 in the Garden where it seems that you could see that they had that something.  Looking back on it when they made the Stanley Cup run, I saw that game as the spark, the signal that they were going to make something of the Eastern Conference.  Now I know every team has a bad game and every team has those games where they play out of their minds, but this was a Ranger team that was sinking faster than the Titanic in the middle of the Atlantic.  This was NY’s NBC Rivalry game on national TV.  This was a chance to shine after shaking off the Tortorella curse and shake it off they did.  Oh and did I forget to mention, I was there?  So was Wilkes-Barre Scranton’s own Jayson Megna who was a recent callup.  But it looked like after weeks of shaky play they suddenly decided to put it all together.  This season it looked to me like the Pens game was the game that the Rangers decided to come along as well.  December 8, 4-3 SO win and since then, they’ve been 24-6-2.  It’s like they decide to beat the pundits’ choice for top team and go on a run.  I imagine there’s more to it than that, but it looks like it from the outside.  They are second in the division right now, Lundqvist has been out since taking a puck to the throat but they’ve still managed to squeak out wins with Talbot in net.  It’s very possible this team is primed for another Cup run.   The Cup could be in a New York State of Mind.