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NFL Combine 2013 NFC West roundup: Pete Carroll, John Schneider represent the Seahawks

We take a look at comments by the Seahawks brain trust during the NFL Combine media availability.


Over the course of the year, we will post a variety of 49ers transcripts. A lot of the time we get little out of them, but sometimes there are interesting comments. The folks at NFL Draft Scout have provided a rundown of the many transcripts from front office and head coach press conferences last week.

The folks at Field Gulls had the bright idea to post transcripts for the rest of the division, and it seemed like a good idea. The 49ers and Seahawks in particular are developing into fierce rivals. Although other rivalries have greater historical significance, for the hear and now I would argue the 49ers and Seahawks might be the best rivalry in the NFL. It is an entirely subjective discussion, but with both teams on the rise, the animosity between the fan bases, and the one-time rivalry between the coaches, is there a better rivalry in the NFL right now?

As you read through these transcripts, I think you have to picture Pete Carroll hyped up on a ton of caffeine.

Pete Carroll Press Conference at the NFL Combine

Carroll transcript:

Q: How is this whole process going for you?

Carroll: Well, we kind of get back in the saddle again, having gone through really three solid weeks of evaluation so far with scouts in-house. We're deep into it already. So this is the big stage here that we go through and a lot to accomplish, a lot of information to gather. But again, this is one of the steps along the way so we're right in the middle of it all.

Q: You've said it's going to be tougher for 10 draft picks to make the team. Does the evaluation process get tweaked at all?

Carroll: No, the evaluation process really stays the same. That means it never really ends. We keep going. But it does call for us to be very specific about the guys that we choose because of the background and the information we have on our roster. We know our guys] so well. John said from the start he hoped we would really make this a very, very competitive roster as soon as possible. We've been able to do that, and that means that we'll have more difficult decisions. People might come after our guys a little bit more. They'll claim guys when we release them. The first year, we released hundreds of guys that nobody claimed. Things have changed. It is a little more difficult. It's more focused than it has ever been.

Q: With the level of talent on the roster, did that happen sooner maybe than you expected?

Carroll: This is kind of the way John projected it really. John gave me some real guidelines here how long he thought it would take. He thought, in the third year, we should start to feel it. I think we started to feel it in the second year, the youth and the big change in the roster had taken place. It was really at the end, when we made cuts this year, we watched the activity and what was going on, and the difficulty we had making our final cuts was much different than it was the first couple times around.

Q: How do you feel about the edge rushers and pass rush available from this inside.

Carroll: We'll see. We have a long ways to go on figuring this out. There are some speed guys. There are half a dozen guys that are big,long, fast guys that we have to sort out and right now we're just kind of figuring out who they are. But there are some guys that areinteresting and exciting. We'll see as we go through it. There's some big guys inside, not really the pass-rush oriented guys that maybe we saw when (Ndamukong) Suh and those guys came out - (Gerald) McCoy - a couple years ago, but still, really good football players thatcould help and could help our team. But we don't have it all sorted out yet, and don't have to for a while.

Q: Using tall cornerbacks the way you do, what went into that decision process and how has it helped you as a team?

Carroll: Really, the decision for me was like 20 years ago. So this didn't just happen, we happened to hit two big, long, tall guys at the same time. When you're a bump-and-run oriented group and that's part of the mainstay of your philosophy, you realize that the length that guys have at the line of scrimmage is a big asset. Some guys have long arms, and some guys have the broad shoulders and the big wingspan and all, but when you put together guys that are 6-3 and 6-4 and they have all of that, it just makes for a larger target for them at the line of scrimmage so the receivers have to go a longer ways to get around them.

That's as fundamental as that is, really. But you add to it, the weight and strength of those guys and they're hard to shove and push and jostle when you go to the football. So our guys are definitely a factor on guys all of the time. And if we're close, we have a chance of making the play. Some guys are close, and they can't get to the football, but our guys are pretty darn good at that so that has been a factor.

Q: How does that impact how your team matches up?

Carroll: There was a time when the average corner was 5-10.5 so if you're playing guys that are 6-2 and 6-3, you're at a lengthdisadvantage. That's not the case for us. We like playing big receivers. We like our guys to play tall guys now. It helps us in all areas, but that's not longer a factor that goes for the offensive side.

Q: Pete, how do you use the game against Atlanta for your guys?

Carroll: Really, in the locker room, at the end of that game, I talked to them directly about those, 25 seconds at the end and we didn't finish the game, wasn't going to define the year that we had. Because we had done a lot of great things and shown a lot of growth and development and emergence and maturity and all of that stuff. We just needed to take the fact of what happened and keep moving forward.

I didn't want that to create a false step or some misconception of who we are or what we're all about. That was really what that was about and dealing with it in that manner, which isn't different language for our guys. That's kind of how they hear it all the time anyway. We worked right through that. Russell would tell you, by the time he got to the tunnel, he had already started thinking about next year. So he lamented for about 75 yards or so. That's the kind of short memory that we like at this time as we're going.

Q: Do you expect a lot of adjustments?

Carroll: Well, everybody has to. We've forced the issue by these last couple years of football has forced the issue to be at hand for all the defensive staffs. Everybody has got to figure it out. Same way we had to do in college. If you guys remember, there were always these swings in college whether it was wishbone or the splitback veer offense or the misdirection I formation option game. It always calls for the defense to catch-up, and that's kind of what we're doing right now. We have to catch up scheme-wise and make sure we're positioned and deployed properly. Everybody is working on that when you have a quarterback that's going to run. I don't think you're working on it when you're playing New England very much. I don't think it's going to happen there.

Q: Given that you've rebuilt the roster, are you more apt to now spend money on an older, veteran free agent
given the needs at pass rush?

Carroll: We're not more apt to do anything at this time, I don't think. Because we were close last year? Oh, just get one more guy, that will make a defense. I don't think that. And John and I don't feel that way. We just want to keep developing our team.

Allow our team to grow, and to mature, but we'll still look at every single opportunity. And there are guys out there that are at the laterstages of their career that we will look at, but not with the thought, 'Let's just get a couple of old guys to really put it all together.' I don't think that that's where we are. This team has really been built from the inside with the young guys. We've got some great experienced players, but for the most part, this is a very young football team, and we'll continue to go that way.

Q: What is your experience with Gus Bradley?

Carroll: Gus had grown up with Monte Kiffin in football and in defense, which I had done as well. So when we first got together in Seattle, Gus was the coordinator there. It really took me about 10 days or two weeks or something of kind of hanging with him just to get to know him and understand how we would fit in all of that. And I fell in love with the guy. He's just a fantastic individual. Just an extraordinary competitive guy. He's got a great message. He's got great leadership skills. People love to be around him. Players like being around the guy.

He's very much an upbeat, high enthusiasm guy that will not allow his dobber to get down at any time. I think his football principles are excellent, and I think he brings a package that's unusual, and I'm surethat when he went in in his interviews, he wowed those guys. They were surprised at who he was, what he was all about and where he was coming from. I'm real excited for. We don't talk any more because we play this year.

Q: What influence did Monte Kiffin have on you, and what are your thoughts about his return to the league?

Carroll: A tremendous amount of influence on me. He taught me everything I knew about coaching defense starting way back at Arkansas a million years ago. We stayed connected throughout the years, and I never talked to him one time when he was coaching in college. See he didn't do very well. Matter of fact, I talked to him a lot. He's given me the foundation and the principles, really the heart of the philosophy of how we coach defense and what we look for in personnel and style of play and mentality and work ethic and all of that stuff really was Kiff. Because I didn't know a whole lot when I got to him, a graduate assistant.

He kind of took me with him for some years, and then when we stayed together for a long time in different assorted jobs we couldn't hold. I think he brings a tremendous wealth of knowledge and understanding. An extraordinary ability to analyze and evaluate. His communication skills with players on this level. I think there was some issue for him in college. He's just so far out there with how he coaches and what he understands and what it takes to play on thislevel, it didn't translate as easily as he would've liked. Other than that, I think the Cowboys were lucky to get him and I think he'll be a great asset for them.

Q: Coach, who's better, Richard Sherman or Darrelle Revis?

Carroll: Richard is one of the best guys on our team. I think Richard is a fantastic football player and he's having a blast this offseason, and I'm sure Mr. Revis might not be thinking that, but they might be enjoying it just as much.


John Schneider Press Conference at the NFL Combine

John Schneider transcript:

What are your overall impressions of the strengths and weaknesses in this draft class?

"I would say, I think it's a good group all the way through. Obviously the juniors have helped out a lot, like every other year. Specifically to not answer your question (smiles), I think it's a good group all the way through. There are just different parts of the draft that are nice in a couple of areas, nothing real specific. But there are a lot of good players."

Do you think other teams are looking for this year's Russell Wilson?

"It's hard to say right now. I don't know what other people are thinking about the position. But sure, I think there are probably a couple of guys that are going to step forward that maybe people don't expect."

Did you see franchise-player talent when you selected Wilson last year (in the third round)?

"We like him a lot. For me to tell you that he was going to do what he did in his first year, I'd be lying to you. We were able to acquire Matt Flynn, so we just had a great setup either way around, all the way around. Tarvaris Jackson actually did a lot of good stuff for us, too, the previous season. So we felt like we had a good setup. But to say that I thought he was going to do everything he did, I'd be lying."

What did Wilson have that allowed him to do that?

"Well, kind of what you see. I didn't think it would happen this fast. Just a very poised, smart, intelligent, accurate, great feet, hardworking guy that is eventually going to out-will you."

How do you justify targeting a player at No. 15 in the first round that might not be rated that high?

"(Smiles) Are you talking about last year specifically (when the Seahawks selected Bruce Irvin at No. 15))? The draft has so manydifferent components to it - the evaluation process; knowing other teams, our personnel staff is very involved as well trying to figure out what other teams' needs are. Really, I thought our pro staff did a great job last year identifying who would be the teams that would be involved or interested in specific players. So we just had to look at our board and kind of work with specific teams and see what types of different trades were available to try to put us in a position where if we went back we weren't completely losing a player. Say maybe we had one of three players. Last year, it was one of two players. So we felt if we went back we'd be able to get one of those two players."

How difficult is it for a scout to avoid the group-think situation?

"We take a lot of pride in giving our scouts a lot of leeway in terms of their opinions on players. So there is a concern about that But in giving our guys a lot of leeway and confidence in the job they do, they know they're going to be heard and at the end of the day we're going to take all the opinions and put them together. I don't feel we do anything necessarily different than other clubs. We try to work it where we feel like we don't have all the answers all the time. We're looking for more and more questions, and answers to be questioned. If that makes sense to you."

As a scout do you find yourself trying to protect against that?

"I think early in the process when you start, sure. Because you're looking at young guys. I know when I go to schools early in the season, that's where I see it the most. That's when you get in the most trouble because you're evaluating guys on maybe one or maybe two games and then maybe two games the previous season. So you're looking at it and going, 'OK, what does this mean?' You know what I mean? So I think that happens initially early in the season. But hopefully we give our guys enough confidence in their ability that they can just have their opinion and just keep working."

What are your plans for Matt Flynn?

"I think we have a great setup. I feel very blessed that we have two quarterbacks, to starting-caliber guys. What happened last yeardidn't really have a reflection on what Matt did, or Tarvaris for that matter. It was really what Russell did in terms of just kind of stepping forward and taking charge. From the way he performed in the preseason it was really hard to argue - I think it was like 12 of 18 possessions (that he led scoring drives). We just feel really blessed with our situation right now. It's so early. Everybody is in the middle of the draft process. So it's not like I've had a chance to sit down with other general managers and some of the people I know around the league to talk about what their situation is. As you guys well know, we're always going to listen to everything and if we're not doing that, we think we're not doing our job. That doesn't necessarily mean we will do something with Matt."

What are your thoughts on Russell running the zone-read?

"I think Russell can do that. I don't think there's any question. I think he showed towards the end of the season we could do that. But I think also is a guy that can stay in the pocket and deliver the ball, and deliver it on time. He's a guy who has a unique ability to find passing lanes, and slip and slide."

What did you see in Gus Bradley that made you think he'd be a good head coach?

"Gus is fantastic. He has incredible people skills. Very strong leader of men. When I talked to Dave and a couple of the people down there (in Jacksonville), I just thought he was a perfect fit. He's a guy who has a ton of energy. His work ethic is off the charts. And just ethically, he's just a really good man."

{On having Dan Quinn back in Seattle):

That worked out great for us. Dan was with us our first year here, and he wasted to have some of those head coaching leadership skills, and he felt like he needed to go do that. For us to make that transition really helps, because he has a feel for Pete's defensive philosophy, as well as some of our players, like Chris Clemons, Red Bryant, and Brandon Mebane -- some of the guys who are still there.

{On what he's hoping to see in Russell Wilson from the first year to the second):

Relaxing. getting a break. Taking a vacation. He needs to get a way a little bit, you know? I was telling him the other day that he went from the Rose Bowl all the way through this process -- he did the Jon Gruden QB Camp last year, went through the draft, was in it right away, studied his tail off, and just competed like crazy. He was over at the University of Washington, throwing to some of our receivers and some of their receivers. Then, he came into a very long rookie season, going as far as we went, and then he went to the Pro Bowl ... he went to the NFL Network and did the whole gameday coverage for the championship weekend, and then, after that, he went to the Pro Bowl. Then, he went to the Super Bowl and did all the stuff down there. I saw him the following Monday after the Super Bowl, and I said, 'Man you've gotta take some vacation,' you know? You need to get away a little bit. But I guess he was in there working yesterday, so...

{On what the Seahawks saw from Bruce Irvin in his first season):

Bruce still has a huge upside -- he's only rushed the passer for three years now. From a technique standpoint, there are a lot things he needs to improve on, and he knows that. But it's very rare to find somebody with his ability to jump off the ball, and his speed around the corners, and ability to work his way back to the quarterback. I think he knows that the frustration kinda came out in the couple time he wasn't quite able to finish on the quarterback.

But it's not always about quarterback sacks -- it's about moving the quarterback, and he was able to move the quarterback a ton. So, there are some things that don't show up, but I think he would tell you that he has some work to do. In terms of going back and thinking about the pick, we're obviously still very excited about it.

(On how the Seahawks set third-day draft picks up to succeed):

I can't speak for other organizations, but as for our group, we knowour coaches have trust in us as far as acquiring players that fit what they're looking for , or fit a certain position. They're going to compete, and obviously for them to do that, the trust in the coaches to teach, work, and develop those players. And Pete's mainphilosophy is all about competition. So, he opens that door, and you have a chance to play.

{On what happens if he and Pete Carroll don't see eye-to-eye on a particular decision):

Pete and I have a great relationship, so we're able to talk through everything, really.

(On how Jason Jones played, and if the Seahawks would like him back):

Jason did a nice job. He's one of those guys, like we were talking about earlier, where he did move the quarterback a lot and he was disruptive. I don't think he finished as much as he would have liked to, but he's still a guy we're going to keep a close eye on, for sure.

(On looking into draft prospects Twitter and Facebook accounts):

You'd be shocked. Our security guy does a Twitter and Facebook count. It goes both ways, through. There are some guys on Twitter, and it's like they're trying to be Eddie Haskell now. They're putting out, 'Oh, I'm going to work out and it's 3:30 in the morning.' That's kinda weird, you know? But it does go both ways. You see some things that are very alarming. The Facebook stuff -- a couple years ago, you had that one guy who had a pile of coke and a couple guns sitting there. I don't think that bodes very well. I know my boss wouldn't really like that.

(On the Twitter feud between Darrelle Revis and Richard Sherman):

Yeah, Richard was just on TV. We know Richard, and to us, it's not a really big deal. It's what makes him who he is. It's one of the things that made us fall in love with him, and it gives him the confidence to play the way he plays. He feels that he's the best cornerback in the league, and God bless him.

(On whether Seattle's previous drafts change this draft for them):

We grade for our team; we don't grade for the league. Our boardbasically represents that, if that makes sense to you. We grade a guy based on whether we think he can compete with Bruce Irvin, orMalcolm Smith, or Bobby Wagner, and that's the way our board falls.

(On how much the Senior Bowl affects his draft evaluation):

I think it's huge. Guys that turn it down and don't go -- if they'reinjured, I get it, but that's kind of the ultimate stage. If I was able to play in the Senior Bowl, I'd jump all over it. It would be outstanding. In terms of interviewing guys and grabbing them right after practice, or being able to be right on the field, which is a huge deal. Phil Savage did a great job with that this year. But in terms of watching how they lead, and how they work with the coaches, it's a great evaluation piece. It's great for the guys, too -- getting ready for the next phase in their professional careers.

(On matching up with the 49ers):

It's turned into a great rivalry. I think it's two of the more physical teams in the NFL. Really,
I just feel that we need to keep working our system, and trying to get better every single day. That sounds like a cliche, but we're trying to get better at every single position and do things better than anybody's ever done, really. That's our goal, and whether or not we get there is kind of a different deal, but we feel confident that we're approaching that. We struggled against them the first time we played them down there, and played well at CenturyLink Field.