Pete Carroll is “excitable” and “enthusiastic” to Mike Shanahan. The Seattle Seahawks coach’s energy is “unbelievable” and “unmatchable” in the words of his starting quarterback, Russell Wilson.
Now he’s back in the NFL playoffs, visiting the Washington Redskins on Sunday in the NFC wild card round. And while Carroll’s path from the pros to college and back has been filled with pitfalls, he hasn’t lost his emotions.
“In terms of just the energy that he brings to practice and in the meetings and everything, you really want to play for him,” Wilson said. “In terms of practice, he’s always flying around. He tries to race everybody to the drill. It’s pretty fun to play for him, especially the way he coaches.”
Carroll and Shanahan represent very different parts of the coaching spectrum. The Redskins’ coach gets fired up at times, but he doesn’t let his feelings fly in the same way as Carroll.
“Pete has always been very excitable,” Shanahan said. “I think you have to be yourself and that’s what Pete has done. He’s been himself. Everyone knows they type of job he did at Southern Cal. He’s a guy who is very enthusiastic in everything he does and a good friend.”
Shanahan tried to hire Carroll as defensive coordinator with the Denver Broncos in 1995; Carroll wound up with the San Francisco 49ers. Since then, Carroll followed up an unsuccessful stint as New England Patriots coach with nine impressive years at Southern Cal.
This is his second playoff appearance his returning to the NFL with the Seahawks.
“All of that time had to do with what we’re doing now. The building, the process, and getting my philosophy and my approach tight and together and at S.C., with all the winning we did there, I had a chance to really, I think, hone the message,” Carroll said. “Now we came here and have done exactly to the letter what we did there in our approach and our thinking and everything. Fortunately here we’re in a pretty good spot right now.”
Carroll is so much of a players’ coach that Wilson said he even looks forward to team meetings. That’s because the approach is different.
“He’s shown us different clips of some of the greatest athletes in the world and the struggles they’ve been through to be successful in terms of guys like Muhammad Ali and the Michael Jordans of the world and other football players too, as well,” Wilson said. “He always just has something new for us and it’s always exciting.”
Shanahan, who won two Super Bowls with the Broncos, delivers a more traditional approach. It has worked, including this season, when he guided the Redskins to seven straight victories to make the playoffs.
Far from “excitable,” it’s hardly a surprise that Shanahan wants to be considered something very different.
“I think overall, what you want to do as a coach, is be respected,” Shanahan said. “You’ve got a hard job to do and you want to be fair to the best player on your football team compared to the guy that maybe is not one of your better players. You want to be consistent. You’d like to be respected. I think if I had people trying to remember me it would be something like that.”