Saturday, September 24, 2011

Why Rumors of Carroll-Schneider's Demise are Probably Greatly Exaggerated

We pre-empt your regularly scheduled viewing of "Five Things Pete Carroll Still Needs to Prove" to bring you this breaking news bulletin: Pro Football Weekly is jumping to conclusions Evil Knievel-style. Again.

Hub Arkush and Eric Edholm of PFW reported yesterday morning that the collaborative relationship between VPFO/head coach Pete Carroll and GM John Schneider "could be on rocky ground". The spate of offensive injuries and the subpar performance of the offensive line are reported to be a source of tension between the two, with each supposedly making personnel moves the other is displeased with.

This piece of substantiation is offered:

"I talked to one agent who had one of his free-agent clients shipped into Seattle, and when he got there, Pete Carroll said, 'What is he doing here? We don't need him for a football team.' That's just one example of personnel not matching up to what the coach wants to put on the field."

Some reasons why this report doesn't make sense:

1. That agent story is the only item of supporting information that's present in this whole thing. It's one piece, smacking of sensationalism to be quite honest, and the conclusions leaped to from that one exhibit are massive. This doesn't pass the basic strength-of-evidence test.

2. It doesn't offer a motive. Why would Pete Carroll, John Schneider, or anyone in their right mind be annoyed over the acquisition of Sidney Rice, Robert Gallery, or Zach Miller? Tarvaris Jackson I can see, but the other three are proven NFL veterans. We know Pete loves to niggle over his scheme, but that's not mentioned in enough detail here to provide any credibility.

3. It ignores the collaborative relationship in the VMAC. Carroll and Schneider, from all vantage points and by the claim of evey respectable journalist who's seen the process up close, are making decisions together. The PFW piece seems to operate under the assumption that the two are holed up in separate rooms doing their own thing.

4. It doesn't account for the participation of the coaching staff. Doug Farrar mentions that Carroll and Schneider chose to mine the past player connections of OC Darell Bevell and O-line coach Tom Cable in order to find some continuity to help the team after the lockout. Ergo, most of Seattle's offseason acquisitions on offense. James Carpenter and John Moffitt were also Cable picks. We can still debate the wisdom of those moves, but still, it's an easy alternative explanation to "Carroll and Schneider are just on different pages."

5. It's not as if Carroll and Schneider have always agreed on everything anyway. Charlie Whitehurst was largely Schneider's guy, having been on his radar for years before. Carroll supported the move all the way, but reading between the lines, one could easily conclude that it wasn't Carroll's idea. Which speaks to the strength of the collaboration, compromise, and united front that they're trying to build - all good signs of a strong relationship.

6. It doesn't jive with Carroll's history. It's implied that Carroll is upset over the injuries suffered by Sidney Rice and Robert Gallery. First of all, it would be pretty irrational of Pete to get frustrated over something as unpredictable as injuries, unless you think that Rice's torn labrum has something to do with the gimpy hip that sidelined him in Minnesota. They're kind of in different parts of the body. Second of all, even if there was injury history to point to, Carroll is hardly injury-shy. During the 2010 draft, he traded with the Jets for major player Leon Washington, sidelined by injury, shortly after drafting CB Walter Thurmond - a second-round talent knocked down a few rounds by injury - and pretty much cordoning off a starting spot for him, to the point of being willing to trade away the incumbent Josh Wilson. Both Washington and Thurmond had truly gruesome leg fractures to recover from, and Thurmond still isn't back. So Carroll doesn't exactly look afraid to gamble against injury, although it's true that Thurmond and Washington didn't cost that much either.

7. Too many other alternative explanations. This could be a frustrated Pete Carroll making frustrated comments that are being blown out of context. It could be a frustrated agent trying to dish on a front office who didn't sign his guy. It could be a couple of bored writers trying to dish on the worst team in the NFL. Teams like the Seahawks are always targets of rumor-mongering. Are these cynical and unsupported possibilities? Yes. But they're also consistent with the day-to-day NFL, and they prevent the "rocky ground" theory from sounding definitive.

In less fancy words, this sounds like bullcrap being made out of nothing. Near-pure speculation based on very little falsifiable information. Of course, that's certainly our hope, because the destruction of Carroll and Schneider's working relationship is hardly a good thing for an already-struggling franchise. So let's be aware of are bias. But still, I haven't seen anything that serves as a respectable red flag. The leap is just too big. So let's get back to our pasta. Nothing to see here.

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