Seahawks coach Pete Carroll says that the lack of a Super Bowl "hangover'' might result in a more focused team heading into the 2016 season.
BOCA RATON, Fla. — Seahawks coach Pete Carroll walked into a conference room at the Boca Raton Resort on Wednesday morning and headed to his designated spot to meet the media for an hour, sessions that are a tradition of the spring NFL’s annual meetings.
He passed the table occupied by new San Francisco 49ers coach Chip Kelly. Roughly 25 reporters and cameramen crowded around, many waiting for their first chance to ask him about having been fired by the Eagles and landing his new job.
“Look at that,’’ Carroll said with a smile. “The poor guy.’’
As Carroll turned to his table, just three reporters awaited — two from Seattle.
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More would find their way to come talk to Carroll. But the entrance was in stark contrast to this event a year ago when Carroll was the focus of the national media, everyone wanting their chance to ask about the stunning ending in the Seahawks’ Super Bowl loss to the Patriots.
Carroll agreed that the feel to this offseason is different for the Seahawks. There is less attention and — for now — less drama.
The Seahawks undoubtedly will make more moves to their roster.
But unlike a year ago, there are no lingering contract situations. The uncertainty around — and seemingly daily stories on — negotiations with quarterback Russell Wilson are gone. The Seahawks also had to extend the contract of middle linebacker Bobby Wagner last offseason.
Though questions have risen about whether the Seahawks should address the contracts of defensive lineman Michael Bennett and safety Kam Chancellor — both were unhappy with their deals, the latter holding out and missing two games — Carroll and general manager John Schneider have sent strong signals here that they don’t expect those situations to be issues.
“Everything is going great,’’ Carroll said when asked about Chancellor and Bennett. “Everything is going great. We’re off to having a great offseason, and guys are working really hard to make that happen.’’
In an interview Tuesday with the NFL Network, Carroll spoke specifically about Chancellor and Bennett and said in the Seahawks’ view, everyone is on the same page.
“We have a lot of stuff that we’re dealing with in putting our roster together,’’ Carroll said. “Those guys know that. We’ve been in contact with these guys throughout, so they know what’s going on and we’re going to do everything we can to keep them with us for as long as they’ll play football.”
Both are team leaders, and Carroll said he expects they and the Seahawks learned from the mistakes that led to their 0-2 and 2-4 starts last season, mistakes he is confident won’t be repeated.
Carroll also said the Seahawks simply are in a different spot mentally. Last season the Seahawks did not spend a day in first place and were eliminated from the playoffs in the second weekend.
He likened it to what it felt like in the summer of 2013. The Seahawks suffered a devastating divisional playoff loss at Atlanta, but they were coming off a second-half rally that gave them a feeling of optimism about what could be next.
“It’s much different coming off of this past season than it was coming off of two Super Bowls,’’ Carroll said. “It’s different. I’m particularly excited about the way we have come out of it. Our guys realized during last season that it took us a long time to get going again to where we really hit our stride, and that we our the only guys that were in the way of that.
“And so without the aftermath and the hangover from the Super Bowl and the mental thing and all of that, which you have to endure, we enter this offseason a little differently and very focused on getting back at it and getting back to work and getting our game right and taking it as far as we can take it. Our guys are really tuned into that, and the leadership of the team is really focused on that, and I think we are going to see our veteran guys be a better and more direct factor on the young guys as they come into our program by just setting things in motion a little bit quicker and more effectively.
“I think that’s what is going to happen. Our guys can’t wait to get started. It does feel more like it did coming out of the Atlanta game a few years back. It’s much more connected to that kind of outlook and mentality than the last two years.’’
Carroll also is more open now in acknowledging something he tried to downplay the past two off-seasons — that either winning or losing a Super Bowl takes a mental and physical toll.
“I would say that coming out of the Super Bowl is a much bigger factor than people realize,’’ he said. “It’s a wonderful factor. Whether you win it or whether you don’t, it’s an extraordinary factor, because you have just been to the Super Bowl. But it is something to deal with, and it’s unique in how it affects you and you have to deal with it and I think in a special, unique fashion to go ahead and put it in the right spot and make the most of it.’’
That’s a challenge he hopes to have again next offseason. For now, as the crowd (or lack thereof) that awaited him Wednesday indicated, the Seahawks again are just one of the 30 teams that fell short of that goal last year and are now trying to get back there.