But the Seahawks celebrated that night like they’d won the Super Bowl. Before the end of the game, they sprinted from the sidelines, raised their helmets and danced on the lawn while officers tried to push them off the field. Carroll called the evening a “championship night”.
Of course, that title in the 7-9 division turned out to be the start of something big, even if it wasn’t clear at the time. The next week, Seattle beat Super Bowl champion Saints, and the following year, Carroll and general manager John Schneider would add several unknown players who would become the core of a constant winner with a Super Bowl title and nine consecutive winning seasons.
“It got us rolling in a way,” Carroll said on a conference call with media members from Washington this week. “After that we won a lot of games.”
If you look closely, the Washington Football team playing at FedEx Field in Seattle on Sunday can likely find many similarities between their situation and that of the 2010 Seahawks. Once again, an older, seasoned coach is trying to build a culture of winning on a team in dire need of a fresh start, pulling that team to an unlikely title in the division with a loss.
The Washington team that Ron Rivera inherited has more established players than the Seahawks team, but like Carroll, Rivera has searched for strangers and worked with Vice President of Staff Kyle Smith to bring on players who have something to prove and for squad spots will fight. All part of what Rivera calls building a “sustainable profit culture”.
In many ways, Rivera wants exactly what Carroll built in Seattle, an organization that is constantly in the postseason and has won at least ten games in seven of the past eight seasons, and a win from doing so again this year. While it’s easier to win year after year when you have a quarterback like Russell Wilson, Carroll did it while changing almost the entire team around him.
The reason for this, Carroll has repeatedly said, is the basic principle behind his organization: competition. The word dominates the Seahawks’ atmosphere. It is constantly shouted and imitated by the players. “Compete,” they say. Always compete. The competition allowed Carroll, Wilson, an unannounced third-round draft pick in 2012, to pick against Matt Flynn – a great free agent – and Tarvaris Jackson.
“That was the whole thing; It was about competing and enabling the guys to do so. “Said Carroll. “And if you remember, we probably had, I don’t know, 250 people who came through here in the first year … just to find our way and keep in touch. And everything competed. The other part was that we wanted to treat people really well and help them. We had a clear mind to help them be the best they could be. These two thoughts together gave us the guidance we needed and we moved on. “
While Rivera talks a lot about competition and clearly wants to create the feeling that no job is completely safe, he’s not the same as Carroll. Both men have a keen sense of understanding their players and maintaining optimism in dangerous times. Rivera’s approach is more subdued, however. He doesn’t talk about New Age philosophy and doesn’t seek advice from California achievement psychologists. He doesn’t let his players do yoga. He is an old football man who has played for Mike Ditka his entire career, who also treats his players like people.
And yet, Carroll and Rivera seem to have similar ideas when it comes to building an all-time winner.
“You have a really clear idea of what your approach and philosophy is so that you can bring it into play and facilitate the accomplishment of the mission of the goals and all,” Carroll said when asked what he thought of creating one Profit considers philosophy to be essential in an organization. “You have to be really clear. If you don’t know, stumble and mix and match.
“I think that allows you to stay together – just like Ron just did where they fought early and they held it together because he knew where he was going and he was really clear about it and he did a real sense of what it’s about and that’s why he can stick it out and get to the other side and be a department head. “
The game against Seattle on Sunday will be difficult for this team in Washington despite the winning streak in four games. The Seahawks’ offensive is stronger than that which dominated the Washington defense. But it’s also a game Washington doesn’t have to win. Even in the 6-8 win over Carolina and Philadelphia, Washington has room to hobble on to the unlikely division title that Carrolls Seahawks earned that Sunday night in 2010.
The one who started a decade of winning that hasn’t stopped yet.
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