Pete Carroll has his Seahawks looking like one of the best teams in football at 4-0, but the former Vikings defensive backs coach knows better than to overlook Mike Zimmer’s squad that comes into Seattle for Sunday Night Football with a 1-3 record.
“These guys have had a really tough schedule. The people they have played, they have had tough games against good people and they’re going to have a really good season,” Carroll said. “This is a good club. Because they’re so consistent, and you can feel the philosophy and Mike’s influence in all of that and they have really good coaches and coordinators that are loaded up with background. They have good history. They have a lot of assets and you can see it coming through the football.”
Since Zimmer joined the Vikings as head coach in 2014, they have the fourth-best record in the NFC at 58-41-1 while the Seahawks are No. 1 at 66-33-1. But in that time the Seahawks are 4-0 against the Vikings, including a 37-30 win in Seattle last season.
“I don’t have a close relationship with Mike, I just have a football relationship with him, watching the work that he has done over the years and how consistent he has been and what a force he has been in creating a good team as a head coach,” Carroll said. “The whole Zimmer effect, playing great defense, running the football, taking care of the ball, all of the things that he does that makes them a successful program. It’s right at the heart of what Mike is all about. I don’t know Mike well, but I do know his football well, I have great respect for him.”
Growing with Wilson
There is no better quarterback in football than Seahawks starter Russell Wilson, who seems to get better each season. He has the highest passer rating in the NFL at 136.7 with 16 touchdown passes and only two interceptions and 1,285 passing yards. Wilson is also completing a league-high 75.2% of his passes.
One of the great stories in football is when Carroll called up his mentor, former Vikings coach Bud Grant, to ask him about drafting Wilson.
A lot of draft experts thought Wilson was too short, and Grant said he once coached a quarterback who everybody thought was too short in Fran Tarkenton.
Carroll picked the former Wisconsin QB in the third round in 2012.
“I could never have imagined that the guy could be this consistent and this consistently a great competitor. He’s just a phenomenal, rare person,” Carroll said of Wilson. “It’s all that makeup and drive that he has that continues to show up every day. I mean every day, every year, he just brings it. It never wavered one time in all of the years that we have been together. I have been very fortunate to have this opportunity to watch this guy play the sport he loves.”
While Wilson has continued to evolve, Carroll said he is too, despite being an NFL head coach for 15 years.
“I think I have more clarity about what I’m doing and how I’m doing things now than I ever did before. I think every year I have had a chance to keep growing,” he said. “It doesn’t mean that it always translates into wins and losses, but just awareness and looking after people, taking care of the coaches and the players in a way that they’ll play well.
“I definitely keep growing there and continue to be curious to figure out how to do that. I haven’t changed as much as I think I have just grown and learned how to get more clear on what’s important to me in the whole process.”
Challenge for Vikings
While the Vikings should be 2-2 and have had some growing pains, Carroll said that he knows they are dynamic enough to win any game.
“The feature is Dalvin Cook, but you see Kirk Cousins throwing to some great catchers. Adam [Thielen] is really good and [Justin] Jefferson is really, really good, going to be a great player, tight ends are good. They have a really well-rounded offense,” Carroll said. “Kirk, I know he’s not probably happy with all of the numbers, but he has made some great plays this year and thrown some great balls down the field and connected on remarkable hookups.
“It’s why they’re one of the best teams in the NFL on early downs, explosive-wise, it’s because of him and using those receivers. The fact that he has six picks and six touchdowns doesn’t really look like that when you watch the film. He looks better than that.”
Still, no matter how you cut it, the Vikings are going to have their hands full in Seattle on Sunday night.
They’re seven-point underdogs, and Carroll says this might be the best team he has coached.
“We’re playing together well in that we’re feeding off one another. The defense is making big plays, the offense is capitalizing,” he said. “And when we need to make the stops the defense finds a way to do it. We’re different than we have been. We were much more dominantly a part of the game defensively in years back, but this team is really playing together well. Special team is really solid. If we can take care of that it makes us hard to beat.”
• St. Thomas graduate John Schneider is in his ninth season as the general manager of the Seattle Seahawks after spending eight seasons with the Green Bay Packers. He made his biggest trade this offseason bringing in Jets safety Jamal Adams, but Adams has been injured and will miss Sunday night’s Vikings game.
• Receiver J.D. Spielman, the son of Vikings GM Rick Spielman, got involved in the TCU offense in the first quarter vs. Kansas State on Saturday by completing a pass, but it went for no gain. The Nebraska transfer had five catches for 55 yards, four carries for 30 yards and seven punt returns for 80 yards over TCU’s first three games.
• Great news out of New York that former Gophers linebacker Blake Cashman is back practicing with the Jets after a shoulder injury. Cashman has 41 tackles in eight pro games over two seasons.
• Twins owner Bill Pohlad will get a big release next Saturday when HBO broadcasts “David Byrne’s American Utopia.” Pohlad served as executive producer on the film, which was directed by Spike Lee.
• Former Gophers golfer Erik van Rooyen earned $101,797 after tying for 23rd at the U.S. Open in New York last month, his second event of the 2021 season. Van Rooyen earned $171,345 in 11 events during the 2020 PGA Tour season.
• CBS Sports Top 100 NBA draft prospects has Apple Valley and Duke standout Tre Jones at No. 34, Cretin-Derham Hall and Gophers forward Daniel Oturu No. 41, Hopkins and Arizona forward Zeke Nnaji No. 43, and East Ridge grad and Baylor forward Freddie Gillespie No. 83.
• As the Twins enter their offseason plans, they rank No. 21 in baseball with a $60.4 million payroll for 2021, but that number will go way up with deals for Nelson Cruz and arbitration for Mitch Garver, Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton, Jose Berrios, Taylor Rogers, Tyler Duffey and Matt Wisler.