PHOENIX (AP) — Give Pete Carroll the opportunity to campaign for someone or something he believes in and he’ll gladly jump at the chance.
Usually it’s for a player, or a cause. But Carroll’s drive this year was getting recognition for general manager John Schneider, the co-architect of the Seattle Seahawks’ rise who usually tries to avoid the spotlight.
“He has just worked tirelessly to continue to compete, to find guys to make this a healthy, competitive roster,” Carroll said. “I mean the hundreds of changes in the first year was just trying to find guys. The continuation of that, it changed in terms of the numbers, but the attitude, the approach, John just continued to battle for it.
“I don’t know how he couldn’t be recognized with the drafts that he’s had, with the free agency success he’s had, with the success of our lower draft picks that have come through.”
Five years after being selected by Carroll to be the second piece of the Seahawks hierarchy, Seattle is in a second consecutive Super Bowl thanks largely to a roster constructed by Schneider. He’s received little recognition for what Seattle has accomplished during his tenure and while Schneider doesn’t care, Carroll would like to see him honored.
“His insight and his ability and really the creativity that he brings couldn’t have been more obvious,” Carroll said. “But the rest of us, I don’t know. We’re just playing a game and we’re a team. But I think his situation here really should stand out and should be recognized.”
The 43-year-old Schneider has not rested on what Seattle has accomplished during his tenure, to the point where the Seahawks were holding pre-draft meetings this week in Arizona leading up to Sunday’s game against New England. Asked recently if he could have imagined Seattle’s success after five years, Schneider said he can’t look at two conference titles and four playoff appearances from a broad perspective.
“We are so focused and consumed about getting better in every area on a daily basis that it has just built like that over the years,” Schneider said. “I know you guys have heard me talk about being a consistent championship-caliber team. And with that comes really tough decisions, like, every day. Obviously, it’s what you strive for. Everybody just kind of knows that. We don’t talk about it. Yeah, of course everybody wants to be a world champion, everybody wants to win Super Bowls. But the manner in which we did it was a blast, the whole group. The culture that we are in is just awesome.”
While Schneider and Carroll are 20 years apart in age, they often act like brothers. That relationship developed in the first few months of their partnership when Seattle went through hundreds of roster transactions trying to remodel its team. They often pull lines from movies like “Step Brothers” in meetings to lighten the mood.
“It’s a cool relationship because John will come through and check with coach all the time, every move he’s going to make. Coach will go ahead and say ‘I agree with you,’ but at the same time they’ll have their differences and they always come to an agreement and they’re always on the same page,” said Nate Carroll, an assistant coach for Seattle and Pete’s son. “It’s very powerful. It’s a comfortable setting to work in. Those guys are great.”
What Schneider has constructed relies on a mix of elements: Hitting on gems in the draft more often than not; discovering undrafted free agents that can contribute; and sprinkling in key free agents when it fits the Seahawks’ financial structure.
Schneider knows time is running out for having so many key contributors playing for cheap by NFL standards. Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, K.J. Wright and Michael Bennett are all taken care of for at least a few more seasons. But looming is an expected new deal for quarterback Russell Wilson this offseason.
“It presents challenges, there is no question. We haven’t sat down with his representatives,” Schneider said. “We are still going to be drafting young players and playing young players, so we might not be able to dip into free agency like you may want to here and there or compensate somebody else that you want to compensate that is already on your team. But just the fact that we’re going to continue to keep drafting players and playing young players should help us compensate for whatever level of compensation (Wilson’s contract) is.”