Carroll is clearly using all those doubts as motivation for this year. He realizes that’s not the kind of energy that can propel a team through an entire season, but it doesn’t hurt to tap into it when necessary. The head coach is feeling a different vibe around Lumen Field these days, the kind of electricity that was so prominent during this team’s glory years. Carroll said he even talked with some of his former players from those squads on Sunday, guys like Chancellor and Cliff Avril, about how the stadium is starting to rock like it used to back in the day.
There aren’t many Seahawks players left who were around from those years. Lockett, who came on as a third-round pick in 2015, is the longest-tenured player, and he was reminding his teammates on Sunday of how important it is to remember what people thought of them back in August. “It’s amazing what you can accomplish when nobody cares who gets the credit,” Lockett said. “We just have a bunch of guys who really want to buy in.”
That environment says a lot about their head coach and his own ability to persevere. When a local reporter asked Carroll how coaching this team compares to his winning a Super Bowl and a couple national championships at USC, Carroll said, “This is a very special opportunity right now. And it’s been that way because of all the hype and the circumstances and the challenge and the doubting and all that kind of stuff. I like this challenge. I’ve liked it from the start, or I wouldn’t be here. But the fact that the guys are coming through because of the way they’ve worked and how much they care about it, it’s a coach’s thrill.”
You didn’t have to hear Carroll speak those words to know he’s having fun. Late in Sunday’s game, he drew a penalty for bumping into an official who was running down the Seahawks’ sideline. Carroll was so immersed in the action that he’d wandered too far into the field of play and ultimately drew the yellow flag. He laughed at himself a few seconds after the call and joked about it a little more in his post-game press conference.
This was a man who wasn’t supposed to be so gleeful by this point in this season. He certainly wasn’t expected to be playing meaningful football games, or to be looking down at the 49ers, Rams and Cardinals — all of whom made the playoffs last season — in the division standings. That’s also why Carroll is enjoying this run so much. Success always feels much sweeter when people think you no longer have it in you.
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