Pete Carroll and the Curious Case of the Guy Behind the Guy

By now everyone with a cable/internet package has seen a replay of Malcom Butler’s goal line interception. If Butler brilliantly jumped the route to grab the slant intended for Ricardo Lockette, the Seahawks coaching staff brilliantly disregarded a basic football credo: “Just Win, Baby.” Thank you Mr. Al Davis. Statistically, the slant pass wasn’t the worst decision on second down. It just looked that way with Marshawn Lynch relegated from Beast Mode to Least Mode. The praise and consequence of this game falls squarely on the shoulders of the head coaches. For Seattle, Pete Carroll has the distinction of bearing the brunt of the criticism for his call. Carroll called the game he wanted to see. Not the game he wanted to win. In that sense, it’s a continuum of his life experience as a head coach.

How do we reconcile that call at that moment of the biggest game of the year? We probably can’t, but we can make an assessment based on cognitive dissonance of one of the most cerebral coaches in the NFL.

The Conflict:
It was important for the team to win the Super Bowl.
The coach wanted to choose the hero.

Pete Carroll is all about fully exercising his intellect to make decisions regarding running, throwing, and hitting large men on the regular. His daily coaching themes carried over from his days with USC have been well chronicled. “Tell-The-Truth Monday” is when game mistakes are corrected, big plays praised. “Competition Wednesday” represents the game-type intensity demanded of the first game-plan specific practice. Takeaways and ball security are stressed on “Turnover Thursday.”

He’s well researched, detailed and in his own words “A Competitor.” On this occasion, he overshot his self-ascribed theme by more than a country mile. Not surprisingly, the man who lists Abraham Maslow (Self Actualization) and Zen Master D.T. Suzuki as his inspirations had each down scripted in his head. At least that’s how he explained it to Michelle Tafoya in the loser’s Q&A located in some jail cell reincarnation of the backstage hallway. “Second down we throw. If we don’t get in we run on third and take a time out if needed.” He over shot it. What should’ve been on his mind was to win that game in that moment. No more downs, Pete. Win on that one.

This wasn’t the first head scratching final play move orchestrated by Pete Carroll. He was also highly criticized for removing RB Reggie Bush the reigning Heisman Trophy winner from a potential game-clinching fourth-down call in the final minutes of USC’s 41-38 loss to Texas in the 2006 Rose Bowl. BTW, that team was stacked with the likes of Steve Smith, Brian Cushing and Lendale White. Instead, he left Bush on the sidelines as White got stuffed twice at the goal line. Leaving Bush on the field would’ve taken one defender out of the box. The same goes to this year’s Super Bowl. Pats send in the jumbo package and Lynch is completely out of the play. He’s not even a decoy.

The call doesn’t pass the sniff test of a coach wanting to win. It fits a pattern by this particular coach trying to orchestrate every detail of what’s in front of him. If Russell Wilson completes that pass and the Seahawks win, it’s a gutsy call by the coach and his guy (Which Marshawn Lynch is not)  gets to say he’s going to Disney World. The head coach is the general on the sidelines. On the field, he’s the guy behind the guy and that doesn’t sit well with Pete Carroll.

14 days until pitchers and catchers report.

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