Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said sideline outbursts and locker room tirades at the media were distractions this season the team needs to avoid in the future.
A season that ended too soon for coach Pete Carroll also finished in a manner he didn’t really like — with Seahawks players visibly displaying their frustration with a few tiffs on the field against the Falcons, and in one notable instance in the locker room afterward at a reporter.
And Monday, as he held his end-of-season press conference, Carroll said a focus for the future will be to make sure his players understand the fine line between emotion and distraction and attempt to stay on the right side of it more often.
“I think there was a couple outbursts that we had that we documented well, that really took us to a place we don’t want to be, we don’t want any part of it,’’ Carroll said. “The emotional side of it brought out some expressions, took us to a place that was a distraction and we had to get through and we did. … Sometimes the setbacks can allow you to grow and they did. We don’t need those distractions, it’s hard enough. It’s hard enough to get it done when everybody is in lock step and all of that.’’
Carroll said that message was relayed to the team when he met with his players for one final time Sunday.
“Clearly it’s not where we want to be representing who we are and what we’re all about,’’ Carroll said. “We have to do better at that.”
The outbursts this season included sideline rants by cornerback Richard Sherman directed at defensive coordinator Kris Richard in a game against Atlanta on Oct. 16 and at offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and Carroll in a game against the Rams on Dec. 14.
Then Saturday, defensive tackle Michael Bennett erupted into an expletive-laden tirade at local television reporter Bill Wixey in the locker room when Wixey asked a question about the team’s pass rush (Bennett also got into it on the field with Atlanta offensive linemen throughout the game, notably with Jake Matthews — with whom he had been angry due to an incident in the first game on Oct. 16).
Carroll said he didn’t see Bennett’s outburst — Carroll held a press conference in another room at about the same time — and said he had not talked to Bennett about it.
But he said the incident was “just another example of not being poised at the time.’’
And as the head coach, Carroll said he takes responsibility for the way the players act.
“I do, because it’s important for me to tap into these guys, their emotional side, and it becomes part of their play when it fits the person and that’s how they operate,’’ he said. “But sometimes, like I said, we make mistakes. I needed to do a better job of helping them head that off. This is a game that calls for guys to play at the edge and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. But I think there’s a mistake when they go too far.”
Carroll has often talked about creating a culture with the Seahawks in which players are allowed to freely express themselves on and off the field and observers have often credited that culture with enabling the team’s success of the past five years.
Carroll said understanding the makeup of his players was a reason he was “not necessarily surprised’’ at some of what happened this season.
“But I’m disappointed we weren’t able to control it, that guys weren’t able to keep it inside,’’ he said. “These guys have been very emotional players, and it’s part of the thing that we like about them. But there’s a point where you can go too far. Our guys are working at figuring that out.”
Carroll, though, insisted that the outbursts were not a sign of a team that had internal issues.
“We did deal with it and got through with it, I think better on the inside than the outside for those watching,’’ he said. “We were able to directly go at that stuff and we grew from it.’’
That led Carroll to make an interesting assessment that this team had as close of a bond as any he has had since coming to Seattle in 2010, which he said made having the season end before the ultimate goal of the Super Bowl even harder to accept.
“The connection between the players was unbelievably tight,’’ he said. “As much so as any team we’ve had in the time we’ve been here. I wanted to make sure we were all clear about that, so we could take that connection and the efforts we made to get there, into the next season.’’