For ten years, Pete Carroll lorded over the Trojan dynasty amid endless scrutiny as the face of L.A.’s pseudo-pro football team.
In Seattle, the eccentric head coach has operated in relative obscurity and his defense is king. Carroll, a former defensive coordinator who coached Troy Polamalu amongst others, had visions of transforming Southern Cal into Cornerback U, and in 2000 spent a period as the Seahawks defensive backs coach.
Contingent upon his return to the NFL, Carroll requested autonomy over player personnel decisions. John Schneider is the Seahawks general manager, but in a Kriss Kross-type backwards twist, the coach hired the GM. Together, the tandem has cobbled together a youthful unit that appears built for sustained success.
While Carroll was hoisting national championship trophies and developing Heisman Trophy winners, his offensive superstars were basking in more adulation and shine than Paul Wall’s custom grills.
However, defense is Carroll’s baby.
It would have been impossible, for the Seahawks to stay afloat during the first half of the season while Russell Wilson acclimated to the NFL, if it weren’t for their ball hawking secondary.
From the Steel Curtain to the Monsters of the Midway, to the Fearsome Foursome, every great defense needs a great nickname. Carroll’s towering secondary was quickly dubbed the Legion of Boom. There’s no definitive origin, but theoretically the boom originates from the thud that can be heard after opposing receivers put their hands on the leather.
In the two seasons prior to Carroll’s arrival, the Seahawks pass defense ranked 32nd and 30th in the league and was an airstrip for connecting flights between receivers and the end zone. Three years into Carroll’s master plan, the Seahawks are allowing the fifth-fewest yards and third fewest points per game, while quickly earning one of the best nicknames in sports.
Despite getting schooled by the Bears' equally-physical Brandon Marshall Sunday, statistically, Seattle remains the best at keying in and shutting down opposing offenses' top receivers.
Just as Carroll defied NFL logic by starting a quarterback with cornerback height, he went even more unconventional by assembling a secondary with prototypical quarterback size.
Sub-six foot corners are typically ideal in contrast to bigger ones, who tend to lack the foot speed and flexible hips to cover dynamic receivers.
Aside from safety Earl Thomas, Carroll is eviscerating that philosophy like Jennifer Hudson burning off baby fat.
Everything is bigger in Texas, except the former Longhorn, Thomas. The 5-10 safety was originally projected to be Brian Dawkins Eagles heir apparent, until Carroll swooped in and plucked him up with the 14th overall pick
Four rounds later, Carroll honed in on bruising Virginia Tech safety Kam Chancellor. The 6-3, 232 pound defensive back was once considered an elite pocket passer on Friday nights in prep school. On Sundays, Bam-Bam now roams the Seahawks secondary jumping ill-advised throws and taking ball carriers souls.
Defensive backs 6-3 and over are bigger anomalies than 7-foot tall Russians limbo champions or plus-size Victoria Secret models. In Seattle, it’s the norm.
One year after drafting Bam-Bam and Thomas, Carroll welcomed a pair of familiar Pac-10 products into the fold in Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman.
Not since Lester Haynes and Mike Hayes rocked the silver and black have a more talented pair of towering bump-and-run corners patrolled the same secondary.
Half a decade ago before drafting Richard Sherman in the fifth round of the 2011 NFL Draft Carroll was unable to lure the 6-3 Compton product with 4.39 speed from Stanford.
The only things bigger than Sherman standing next to the typical cornerback are his ego, his braids and his mouth, which he used to punk Tom Brady in the aftermath of a Week 6 victory.
At 6-4, Browner is the biggest of the bunch. Prior to last season, Browner’s most recent pro experience came during a 2006 truck stop in Broncos training camp and a four-year northern pilgrimage with the CFL’s Calgary Stampeders.
It took just five weeks for Browner to make up for lost time. His first career interception resulted in a franchise-record 84-yard interception return.
The apple doesn’t fall too far from the Haynes-Hayes tree, and with the good comes the bad.
Depending on the results of the appeal process, Browner and Sherman may be suspended for the final four weeks of the regular season, for consuming Aderral as a performance enhancer much like Hayes excessively applied Stickum and T-Pain abused Auto-tune.
If the Seahawks hang on to the NFC’s final Wild Card playoff slot, Carroll’s risky decision to put the ball in Wilson’s hands will be praised by the masses. However, after every boom, opposing offenses are met with reality. Carroll’s babies are eatin’ up receivers.