Seahawks Blog

Danny O'Neil covers the Seahawks for The Seattle Times.

October 6, 2011 at 12:45 PM

Pete Carroll stars in 'The Riverboat Gambler'

Posted by Danny O'Neil

RENTON -- Pete Carroll doesn't just expect the best-case scenario, he relies upon it.

He's willing to err on the side of optimism even if it costs his team points.

And it has.

But this has nothing to do with Steven Hauschka's 61-yard field-goal attempt on Sunday against Atlanta. That's only the latest example of end-of-the-half play-calling that could be charitably described as aggressive and in retrospect can look foolhardy.

Carroll is simply not going to play it safe. Not even when he says he's going to play it safe. For better or worse, Seattle has a coach that believes so resolutely in the bright side of a play that he leaves his team vulnerable on the other end when it doesn't work out. It's a trend that earned him a reputation for gutsiness at USC where he often had a prohibitive edge in talent, but that same penchant for taking risks has cost the Seahawks points in his 20 regular-season games in charge of the team.

And if you're still scratching your head over the conclusion to Sunday's game against the Atlanta Falcons, think back to Game 3 of last season, and the fire drill that occurred at the end of the first half against the San Diego Chargers.

The Seahawks had the ball at the San Diego 2 with 22 seconds left, facing third-and-1. Seattle had just spiked the ball to stop the clock, and had no timeouts remaining. Seattle had time to run a play before kicking the field goal, just not the play the Seahawks decided to run, which was a quarterback sneak. Because when Matt Hasselbeck was tackled at the San Diego 1, the Seahawks couldn't get their field-goal unit on the field and snap the ball before time ran out.

It was, in short, a debacle, and Carroll didn't flinch from taking responsibility.

"I got a little bold about our situation," Carroll said. "We need to take care of business better. I need to do a better job, and make sure that we get our points when we get our opportunities."

Sounds great, right? Well, the next week at St. Louis, the Seahawks lined up to attempt a 51-yard field goal with 1 minute left in the first half at St. Louis only to have holder Jon Ryan tackled for a 9-yard loss.

Or how about Game 9 last season when Seattle was tied 10-10 at Arizona, facing fourth-and-1 at the Arizona 16 with 1:10 left in the second quarter and the Seahawks once again busted out the quarterback sneak. This one not only cost Seattle a chance at kicking a field goal, but Hasselbeck suffered a broken wrist on his non-throwing hand.

It's the kind of gutsiness that earned acclaim at USC. In his final season at USC, Esquire did a profile on him entitled "Big Balls Pete Carroll." The subtext was that one of the things that made Carroll so incredible was a willingness to do things other coaches won't try.

And Carroll has been clear that there are going to be decisions he'll make that people will second guess, but that isn't going to stop him from making those decisions. He isn't going to err on the side of conventional wisdom and old coaching bromides.

Sunday showed that Carroll hasn't tempered his risk tolerance in the past year. He opted to send out a field-goal kicker who had never attempted a field goal longer than 54 yards to attempt a 61-yarder in a stadium where there had never been a field goal made longer than 55.

Carroll was asked Monday about any second thoughts.

"I'm fine about it," Carroll said. "I knew clearly what I wanted to do at the time and went for it. I'm not looking back at it."

It's hard-wired into his DNA.

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it is easy to gamble with other people's money (or professional reputations). let's see pete step up and be willing to gamble with the...  Posted on October 6, 2011 at 8:57 PM by oliverbrown. Jump to comment
of one thing I am critical; the seahaws have several premier rushers ... it's high time to establish a running game!  Posted on October 6, 2011 at 8:39 PM by stephen/seattle. Jump to comment
PC owes no apologies. yes, he pushes to win, and he expects to win. sometimes, he expects too much. that's not a fault; it's...  Posted on October 6, 2011 at 8:38 PM by stephen/seattle. Jump to comment

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