SEATTLE – Deciphering the Seahawks isn’t just a chore. It’s a full-time job.
There’s no telling what coach/vice president Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider will do next. In two-plus seasons in charge, they have made eye-opening moves in the pursuit of unconventional excellence.
And we haven’t even gotten to the part about using first-round draft choices on players whose names you must type into a search engine before offering a reaction.
No wonder Bing is a sponsor.
There is a method to the Seahawks’ whimsical behavior, however. When you examine them closely, you realize they’ve made the right move more times than not. And so far, even their mistakes haven’t been of the franchise-killing variety. Despite all the confusion and debate they inspire, this has been a trustworthy front office.
True to form, Carroll and Schneider are testing that theory again. In the aftermath of the NFL draft, you’re left to wonder what the heck they were thinking after they made a surprise pick in the first round, selected a 5-foot-11 quarterback in the third round and spent the weekend shocking the arrogance out of draftniks.
Before the draft, Carroll cautioned that the Seahawks would continue to think differently. He talked about wanting “uniquely talented” players and focused on the coaching staff’s willingness to be flexible in figuring out how to utilize such athletes.
“We might surprise you a little bit with some of our thoughts on that regard,” Carroll said.
Oh, they surprised, for sure. The Seahawks carried through with their stated goal of improving their speed and length on defense. After that, you have to interpret their moves.
First, they clearly think the offense will take its biggest step by improving at quarterback, and they believe they have enough weapons, at least for now. They signed Matt Flynn in free agency and drafted the 5-11 Russell Wilson to groom. Now, they have better talent and depth, if you include Tarvaris Jackson and Josh Portis.
Here’s a second thing to consider: In general, it is initially easier to rebuild a young, aggressive defense through the draft than it is to fix the offense.
Under Carroll and Schneider, the Seahawks have used most of their free-agency dollars on offensive players who are experienced but still young. For three drafts, 18 of their 28 selections have been defensive players.
The Seahawks are just different. They like being different. They spend a lot of time not only grading the best players, but evaluating how to use them in their schemes.
The Seahawks don’t employ the classic approach. But because they’re so thorough and believe so fully in themselves, it’s wise to couch skepticism or at least delay unleashing it until you see the plan in action.
They’re eccentric, not stupid. Recognize the difference.