Doug Franz and Ron Wolfley of KTAR radio in Phoenix had some fun Wednesday morning parsing what Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll told 710ESPN Seattle regarding the Arizona Cardinals.
Their tweet caught my attention, so I listened online.
They questioned Carroll's judgment for allegedly criticizing the Cardinals' play calling this season and their decision to stick with quarterback Max Hall to open the second half Sunday. They also suggested Carroll had sounded dismissive when referring to Derek Anderson by name and Hall as "the other guy" Arizona played at quarterback.
Had Carroll crossed any lines with his comments Monday? This could provide terrific divisional fodder if true, and perhaps even if only allegedly true. Had Carroll unwittingly or even knowingly provided fuel to a division rival?
"I don't know," Wolfley said on the air. "I just have a hard time (thinking) Pete could be that dumb. Maybe after he played them twice, but once?"
Let's go straight to the audio. The offending quotes from Carroll, as relayed by KTAR beginning at the 3:30 mark of this segment:
On the change from Hall to Anderson: "Well, we absolutely anticipated it. We were talking about it at halftime, that it was going to happen for sure. I was surprised he didn’t start the second half, but I guess they waited until he got banged up to make the switch."
On the Cardinals' play calling: "This is a good running football team. They haven’t run the ball a lot yet, for whatever reason."
Nothing too inflammatory, I thought, but I was hooked. Wolfley was a four-time Pro Bowl choice as a player. He works as the Cardinals' radio analyst. If he could take offense to something Carroll said, a coach with Ken Whisenhunt's motivational skills presumably could find such comments useful. And so I went back through the audio from Carroll's weekly Monday show with 710ESPN Seattle's Brock Huard and Mike Salk.
If "Doug & Wolf" thought Carroll had some interesting things to say, they should sample Salk calling Hall a "12-year-old shot-putter with a football in his hand" before Carroll came onto the program. Huard, meanwhile, pointed out how college quarterbacks sometimes have their choice of smaller footballs, something that might have benefited the small-handed Hall in the wind and rain at Qwest Field.
Back to Carroll. The sound bites weren't fabricated, but they were taken out of context, in my view.
On the quarterback change, Carroll said the Seahawks "absolutely anticipated" the move. His full response, available at the 20:15 mark of this audio file:
We were talking about it at halftime, that it was going to happen for sure. I was surprised he didn’t start the second half, but I guess they waited until he got banged up to make the switch. So we anticipated that they would change and when they did, we would think that they would throw the ball more. They ran the ball at us in that drive that they went down the field and did a nice job. This is a good running football team. They haven’t run the ball a lot yet, for whatever reason, and I think they are one of the better running teams that we will see, scheme-wise and all of that. They kind of shoved it at us in that one drive. And then they had the good field position after the kickoff return and they were able to get a field goal. But all told, if that is all you give up, that is a pretty good day.
I have also wondered why the Cardinals haven't tried to run the ball more. They've fallen behind in a few games, for starters. That happened Sunday as well. Arizona was running the ball effectively when Tim Hightower lost a fumble following a 13-yard gain (he had gained 24 yards on his previous attempt).
Carroll's comments on Hall went deeper than simply referring to him as "the other guy" in the Cardinals' quarterback equation. The full comments, when asked how Anderson differed from Hall:
Well, there is no question that Derek is more experienced. He just stood up there and fired a couple balls just in normal fashion. The other guy had problems just hitting their regular stuff early on and he never really got going. A couple weeks ago, in their last game against the Saints, he got to hitting stuff and looked pretty good and got a little rhythm going that he didn’t recapture in our game. Derek has been around. He has thrown a lot of balls and it’s no big deal for him to come into a game. I thought they could be tougher with him at that time, so we were revved up to get after him and do some things differently to make sure he couldn’t get going.
Turns out "the other guy" had gotten into more of a rhythm against the Saints. Quite a few head coaches gloss over names, particularly names for unestablished players. Carroll called his own left tackle, Tyler Polumbus, by the wrong first name four times during a news conference early this season.
Carroll obviously wasn't taking a shot at Polumbus. I doubt he meant to take a shot at Hall. That wasn't really his tone during the interview as a whole. He called the Cardinals a "good, physical team" that "knocked us around" and left several Seattle players "banged up" heading into Week 8.
Overall, Carroll is still readjusting to the NFL. He's not changing his personality even though he has acknowledged needing to adjust his on-field approach. The confidence Carroll developed at USC permeates what he says and that's going to grate on some opponents -- for whatever reason.