Pete Carroll is one of the best football coaches in the world, with a Super Bowl victory, two college national championships and a career record of 194-90 in his stints in the NFL and college with the Jets, Patriots, USC and the Seahawks.
Carroll — who is 97-71 in the NFL and 97-19 in college — said one of the most important times of his coaching career was when he was hired by Bud Grant to be a defensive backs coach for the Vikings in 1985. He talked about what his time in Minnesota meant to him.
“They were five great years for me growing up as a young coach in the league,” he said. “Bud gave me a chance to get back in. I had started with Buffalo [as defensive backs coach in 1984], got fired my first year, and got back in with the Vikings and got settled back into the league.”
Grant retired as Vikings coach in 1983 but returned in ’85 after Les Steckel went 3-13 as his replacement in ’84. Grant helped the Vikings get back to 7-9 in 1985 before retiring again, this time being replaced by Jerry Burns, and Carroll remained on the Vikings staff through 1989.
“Having a chance to be with Burnsy and [defensive line coach] Paul Wiggin and all the guys we worked with, and of course having a chance to visit with Bud whenever I could get to him, he was always really gracious,” Carroll said. “I had a blast listening to the stories and trying to gain his perspective when he was here. It was a very, very rich time for me growing as a coach.”
Sees Wilson in Bridgewater
It’s hard not to look at the Seahawks and see a blueprint for the Vikings, who are surrounding a young quarterback with a stout defense and a tremendous run game.
Through his first 24 games with the Vikings, Teddy Bridgewater has completed 64.8 percent of his passes for 5,199 yards, 22 touchdowns and 19 interceptions for a passer rating of 85.3.
Through his first 24 games with the Seahawks, Russell Wilson completed 63.0 percent of his passes for 4,746 yards, 39 touchdowns and 14 interceptions for a passer rating of 99.7.
“I see [Bridgewater] doing a really good job of giving them what they need to have a successful team,” Carroll said. “He’s doing like our quarterback. We build our team around the running game and playing defense and special teams, and the quarterback is the point guard, you know, and spreads he ball around. I think Teddy is doing a great job of that.”
Carroll also was asked what he recalled of coaching Everson Griffen and Matt Kalil in college.
“Neither one of them ran me out of coaching, so I’ve got fond memories,” he said. “They might have tried, but we had a ball together. We did a lot of winning and had a lot of fun watching those guys grow up and all. Both guys were really big factors on our team and the program there. It’s wonderful to see them have such success and be on top of the game well into their career. The families when they were coming through got to know their families, so it’s just fun to see them continue to have success.”
Yes, Carroll is one of the best in the business and if the Vikings want to keep their division lead over the Packers, they’ll need to beat one of the best coaches and best teams in the NFL.
Twins improve Target Field
The Twins again are planning some significant improvements to Target Field for 2016, the seventh year of the park.
“We’re going through a pretty significant renovation of our center field area,” team President Dave St. Peter said. “We had a couple of sections of seats above the batter’s eye that we have taken out and have replaced that with a multilevel gathering space for fans. The most expansive part of that will be an area at the top right below the Minnie and Paul sign that will be open to all fans and have shade and radiant heat and some signature food and beverage items. I think that will really become a destination inside the ballpark immediately.
“In addition to that we have a season ticket product, an all-inclusive, smaller, 120-person club that will be known as ‘Catch’ that will also be out in that area. We’re excited about it.”
Wolves win with D, youth
The Timberwolves were 8-10 going into Saturday, double their victory total through 18 games a season ago.
Last season, they were giving up 109.9 points per game on 49.9 percent shooting and being outscored 9.8 points per game. This season, they are giving up 101.1 points per game on 44.3 percent shooting and only being outscored 0.4 points per game.
But if you want the real reason for optimism it has to be this: Per game the Wolves were getting 86.8 minutes, 49.2 points and 16.5 rebounds from four players under 21, mainly Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine and Karl-Anthony Towns, plus Tyus Jones, though the 19-year-old from Apple Valley has barely played.
Meanwhile, the Wolves will hold their annual jersey auction Wednesday. All the players’ game-worn jerseys vs. the Lakers will be auctioned off, with proceeds to benefit the Flip Saunders Legacy Fund.
• It’s unlikely that Jerry Kill will be a college football head coach again because of the pressures of the job, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see him wind up as an assistant coach in the future. Kill and his wife, Rebecca, are moving out of their house here. They have to move out by January, and a decision on where they will move to likely won’t be made until he decides what he is going to do. Kill is not short of offers and certainly could be a great asset to the University of Minnesota. During his time as Gophers coach, he became one of the most popular people in the state. He could do great work as a fundraiser and in public relations, something the school badly needs.
• It will be strange to see Darrell Bevell, the Vikings offensive coordinator from 2006 to ’10, on the Seattle sidelines as Seahawks offensive coordinator, a role he has served since 2011. He has played a big part in developing Russell Wilson and helping Seattle to back-to-back Super Bowls.
• Jay Sawvel, who is likely to be promoted from defensive back coaches to defensive coordinator for the Gophers, was at Notre Dame as a graduate assistant from 1996 to ’99, beginning his career there under Lou Holtz. Sawvel worked on the Irish staff at the same time as Ohio State coach Urban Meyer.
• Peter Westerhaus was a highly recruited linebacker from Holy Family but never played one play for the Gophers because of ulcerative colitis, a chronic, inflammatory bowel disease. But he was kept on scholarship, remained listed on the roster and was introduced with the seniors at last week’s Wisconsin game.
• The Gophers have some hopes to get more out of two of their recent top recruits in Berkley Edwards and Jeff Jones. Big things were expected of both when they signed, but Edwards had only five carries on the season and Jones played primarily on special teams.