Pete Carroll on Cam Newton: ‘Our guys know what they’re up against’

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SEATTLE, WA - NOVEMBER 20: Head coach Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks heads into the locker room at halftime during the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at CenturyLink Field on November 20, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. The Seahawks defeated the Eagles 26-15. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

SEATTLE – Seahawks coach Pete Carroll takes a few minutes every week to talk to Q13 News’ Aaron Levine.

This week, he talked about coaches he admires in other sports, the College Football Playoffs, Kam Chancellor’s early years, the challenge of facing Cam Newton, and much more as the Seahawks prepare to face the Carolina Panthers on Sunday night.

Coach, last week after the loss – right after, practically – a lot of the players were focusing their attention on the next week. In general, how quickly do the players focus on the next week after a bad game?

We have really established leadership, and our guys know where we’re going with our mentality and what’s necessary. So I set the thought in motion, and then they take over and they echo it, just as reminders. Sometimes they remind me too, so we work together to get that done. I think our group is very good about doing that.

Big game tomorrow night against the Panthers. Right now there’s a lot of attention on Luke Kuechly and whether he’s going to play. But Thomas Davis: What about him?

Luke is a great player, and Thomas is a great player also. We couldn’t avoid seeing all the big hits he makes, the coverage that he does, the blitzes that he carries out. He’s a really, really good player. He continues to play at the top of his game, no matter how old he is. He’s a fantastic threat. So, he’s an amazing player.

Did you see that picture of his arm in the Super Bowl last year, getting all stitched up?

Yeah, he wouldn’t care I’m sure. He’s too tough.

What’s the most difficult part of facing this Carolina offense? You’ve seen it a lot of the last few years.

The great diversity in the stuff that they do. They go from running the ball downhill at you in typical formations, to all the various things they can do by utilizing the (quarterback Cam Newton). They’re set up in the Wildcat formation, just because Cam runs everything. So there’s more plays, more concepts, more blocking schemes that we have to take care of. Fortunately, we’ve seen a lot of it, but they always come up with something new and they’re really good at it. So, it’s a great challenge. It’s really a challenge that we all look forward to because they are such a good football team.

How much do you like Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright in open space against Cam Newton?

They’ve been there before, so they know what they’re up against. All of our guys would tell you that doesn’t tell you that you got him. He’s a great player, and a great athlete. But our guys, they can make their plays. They’ve made them in the past, so we’re going to count on them doing it again.

You guys played in 80-degree weather last week, you come home, and next week you’re going to Green Bay. Is there a particular type of football weather you prefer?

I like it kind of cloudy, kind of winter-like. It doesn’t have to be the extremes in any direction, but I kind of like it when it’s kind of overcast, cloudy, just typical wintertime.

In an article in ESPN the Magazine earlier this week, Kam Chancellor talked about how he was a little reluctant to be a verbal leader on this team early on. How early did you go to ask him to be that verbal leader, and at what point did you sense that he was ready to take over that position?

I really started talking to him about that late in his first year, and just kind of calling on him. Because you could tell who he was, even into his second year when he was starting up, he wasn’t ready yet. And he was very clear, he said “I haven’t done anything yet,” and I respected that. It just took time for him to feel like he was in position to be the leader. He’s an extraordinary guy in front of the team and all that. I really admire the way – he understood it, too – he needed to establish himself before he would ever speak a word to anybody else.

You’re also expected to get Earl Thomas back this week. Steven Terrell did a terrific job last week, but what are the intangibles that Earl brings to this defense?

He knows our scheme as well as you can and he tries to take advantage of that. He’s been through it all, he’s seen it all, and he’s still a very dynamic player back there in terms of that ground that he can cover and the hits that he can make. He can take the ball off you, he can steal it from you, he can knock it out, and he’s a very good field guy too. So, he’s just been through all of it. I was very proud of Steven last week, he had three big deep-ball shots and he was on top of everything really nicely. But, it’s good to have Earl back in.

We saw the Big Ten championship earlier today. Philosophical question with the College Football Playoffs selection committee making their choices on Sunday: Should a team have to win their conference championship in order to make it to the College Football Playoff?

When I was in college, for years they kept asking me about these rules. I always told them, I don’t care. Whatever it is you, just tell us and we’ll go ahead and play with it. No matter what you do, there’s going to be issues. Just play the hand they deal you. I don’t know what’s best. It looks like Michigan, Ohio State is kind of left out if you would go that way, and they’re a very good football team. I’m glad it’s not my problem – I got no solutions.

Our Twitter question this week: Do you take anything away from coaches in other sports?

Certainly. I particularly watch basketball a lot, and the way the guys handle their teams and their situations and how they handle the playoffs. There’s a lot of stuff to be learned, and I’ve been a really big fan of the basketball guys for a long time. One of the people who influenced me immensely is a women’s soccer coach, Anson Dorrance from USC. So yeah, it’s very important to me.