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SEAHAWKS: I Couldn't Be More Proud of Mark

Posted Nov 7, 2012

Transcripts of conference calls by Seattle's Pete Carroll and Leon Washington with Jets reporters on Wednesday afternoon:


On how things are in Seattle…

You guys are easy. It’s going fine. We’re pumped up. We haven’t been home very much this season so far. To have two games back to back is cool. We’re excited about it. This is a great place for us to play. We love playing here. With the bye week coming up next week, we’re going to try and make the most of it.

On his comments about Mark Sanchez

I told Mark exactly what I thought was the right thing to do for him. I talked to him just like he was my own son. I told my own kids the exact same thing. He could have been at USC for another year, and in that position to have so much come his way and be at USC when we were going to have a great team, would have allowed him to prepare himself in the way you can only uniquely get [in college]. I was very close with his dad throughout the whole time and he knew exactly what I thought was the truth. It wasn’t that I was trying to keep him, but I mean that was part of it. If he was going to stay, he would have had a chance to play for us, but that wasn’t the reason I talked to him. I never talk to our players in that way. I talk to them about what is best for those guys in my mind.

The thing that was thrilling about it was to see Mark really, first off, go against what I thought and his dad thought. It was a tremendous illustration for him doing what he believed. I thought it was really amazing that he was strong enough to do that. We both thought it was going to serve him better to not go. The fact that he went there and was successful and won those first three games — isn’t he the first rookie ever to win his first three games or something? — it was just extraordinary. I was so thrilled for him.

Just because he didn’t do what I thought doesn’t mean it wasn’t the right thing. He went out and proved that he was ready. To get into the playoffs and take it so far and then come back the next year, I thought it was just a tremendous demonstration of a guy who believes in himself. He did that because he knew he could do it and he believed it was the time. He even went against some of the people that were closest to him to do that. I respect him for that.

On if Sanchez not staying in school has hurt him…

No. I think that’s well and done. All of that is washed out by now and he’s been in the hot seat and we’ve been through a ton of things with championship games and all that together. I think that eventually gets washed away. My thought is, I always wanted our guys to be the very best they could possibly be when the time came so they could make the most of it. When you have that thought, then you think in a certain way. I wanted him to maximize his preparation so he could maximize the opportunity. He got through it and overcame it. Whatever I thought he had to overcome, he left that in the dust and kicked butt and had a great first two years and he’s having a great career.

On how often he talks to Sanchez…

I think the last time was before the season. We just communicate through texting or something. We communicate every now and then when one of our guys gets in a situation or does something good. We’re all watching the Trojans really closely. A group of our guys are still linked and I think will be forever. I’ll talk to him when I see him and we have so many people that cross over that we kind of stay in connection with what is happening.

On if there were any hard feelings about Sanchez entering the NFL …

Which comments are you talking about? No, no at all. We talked right through all of that. We sat together until about 2 o’clock in the morning the night before, talking it through. I love Mark and I love everything he stood for. When he made the decision he made, he made what was the right thing in his mind. He stood up and grew up and was a man about it. Then he went out and proved it. I couldn’t be more proud of him. That doesn’t have anything to do with what I thought. I didn’t have any other thoughts than what I just told you. We talked about it immediately after, whatever that was, soon after with the family. We were totally in favor of him [entering the NFL]. You ask him. I don’t think there’s a thought in the world that I’d have any hard feelings.

On what it’s going to be like seeing Sanchez on the other sideline…

It’s going to be cool. I love playing against our guys. The people that I love the most I like to beat the most. It’s always been that way and as we go against our guys, the bad thing is the former USC guys always play well against us. I don’t know what that is. I don’t know if they’re getting back at me or what, but I hope we can have the kind of day we want to have and get our win.

On how he felt about the Jets acquiring Tim Tebow

I think like everybody else. We knew Tim, too. We’d been through recruiting with him and all of that. I knew that those guys knew each other so there was going to be an obvious relationship between them. I figured that if anybody could get it done, it was those two guys. They have tremendous character and integrity and they would figure it out and they have. They’ve done nothing but the right stuff in dealing with the competitiveness of it all and trying to fit it together and the rest of it is up to the coaches.

On if he is surprised the Jets haven’t used Tebow that much…

I don’t know. We’re expecting him to play. We have to count on him being in there. He’s done enough stuff and enough difficult concepts that we’re studying and we’re all over it. It’s totally up to them. They get to do whatever they want.

On how much preparation will be spent on Tebow…

A considerable amount, let’s put it that way. You want to know how many plays? [laughing]

On the progress Seattle has made…

It’s really taken us this time to get going. I think at the middle of last season when we crossed into the second half of last year, we kind of felt like we discovered the guys we want to lean on for the long haul. We put together the nucleus of guys that we had chosen. John Schneider did a fantastic job of accumulating guys and we started winning games the second half. We started to turn it and play better football.

We really haven’t backed off of that. Even though we’re still at 5-4 right now, we’ve been close to having all of our games. We haven’t been out of anything and have been involved with the ball in our hands with the chance to win or the chance to stop the win each week. The nucleus of the guys we have assembled here is one I think we’re going to ride for some time. We think from this point forward we have a chance to be a really good club and be very competitive and we’re going to try and prove that this week.

On if he is overwhelmed by the homefield advantage he has in Seattle…

No, I haven’t been overwhelmed by it, but it’s extraordinarily fun to be around it. This is a great place to play. Our fans are incredibly cranked up every time we go. The intensity factor and the way the stadium fits together with our crowd, it is really cool. It’s different than a great college setting. It feels different. It’s an NFL crowd, but they just won’t back off and they won’t sit down. It’s really an honor to be playing for them. It’s really fun, every time we go out.

On Leon Washington…

He’s been a real fixture for us. We’re trying to have a complete football team and you want to fit it together with special teams. We’ve been really solid on special teams throughout the time we’ve been here and Leon has been a big factor in that. He’s such a good, consistent threat that you have to deal with on kicks and punts.

Lately, the last few weeks, our opportunities have been minimized. Teams are doing a nice job of kicking the ball out of bounds or kicking the ball deep. We haven’t had that many chances, but we know that he’s just a play away from busting it at all times. That’s a really positive factor and he’s also been a plus to us when we’ve needed him on offense. He’s been a great kid in the program.

On Russell Wilson’s downfield throwing ability off of play action…

There are certain things that we look to do to complement the run game that we’ve championed. I just put that stuff as part of it. We’ve tailored everything, as I think we all do, to our quarterbacks. Russell has a really good arm. He can throw the ball a mile. He has good downfield accuracy and he has great vision. That has fit together.

We’ve kept it under wraps as much as we could to help him grow and keep him moving ahead positively in hopes that in the second half of the season we can really start to branch out and blossom. We’ll see how that goes, but he’s done a fantastic job for us. We’re thrilled about it. The future for Russell is bright. He’s just learning, but he studies so hard and works so hard at it that he’s going to grow as much as a young guy can grow in this position. Hopefully, we can keep doing things to complement that and support him.

On the status of Braylon Edwards…

He’ll get some work today and tomorrow he has a chance to go full-go. We’ll see if he can make it back. We’re kind of counting on him getting back this week.

On rumors that the Jets were going to draft Bruce Irvin…

We were not aware specifically of that, but I’ve heard that, too. We knew there were teams that were in the hunt for him and we weren’t exactly sure who might move to get to him. Some teams saw him one way and others like us saw him as an extraordinary talent. We knew him, knew the background of the kid and we were really hoping we would get the chance going into the draft to find a spot there where we could nail him.

We did. It’s worked out great so far. He’s off to a great start as a rookie and we’re playing him exactly as we had hoped. He plays in passing situations, and on early downs he plays right where Chris Clemons plays. It’s worked out great, but I do know that there were other teams interested. We’ve heard of probably four other teams that were lamenting the opportunity because they saw it, too.

On if he has a basketball hoop in Seattle…

In fact we do. If any of you guys show up early, I’ll take you to the hole [laughter].


On life in Seattle…

Life is good in Seattle. I love it out here. It’s the Great Northwest. Our football team, we’re trying to get things together. We have a good football team, so we’re trying to make this late run in the season. Besides that, the family is doing great. I have three beautiful boys and you guys know my wife, Charity. Everything is going great.

On if he imagined it would go as well as it has since he left the Jets…

Obviously, the doubt from breaking my leg, that part of it was like, “Wow, can I ever get back to being Leon? Can I get back to returning kicks and making plays?” That part of it was the only hesitation that I had. Obviously, playing football again, with the great opportunity that Pete gave me in Seattle, I was thankful for that part of it. Just to play football again is awesome.

On if he thought the Jets believed he wouldn’t come back from his injury…

No, not at all. I remember when I got traded, Rex came and talked to me and said, "Look, Leon, we have to pay a bunch of guys, Nick Mangold, David, Harris" — I remember him saying the names — "Darrelle Revis" and stuff like that. It’s a business, so I understand it. I was thankful that I had the opportunity that they drafted me in the first place. It was awesome.

On if he was surprised with the Jets' special teams performance against Miami…

I mean, I’m not surprised in the sense that it’s the National Football League. You know these guys get paid to make plays across from you anyways. We all know how consistent Coach Westhoff has been on special teams with the Jets and throughout his career, so I don’t look at it as one game against Miami, "They're not the old Jets." They’re a really good special teams unit, they do everything so well, so I’m not surprised at all. I think they’ll get back on the right track.

On the noise level at CenturyLink Field...

It’s awesome. We definitely use it to our advantage. We’ve led the league the last five years in false starts on the opposing team. The energy the fans bring to the stadium is so loud. When I’m about to do a kickoff return, I can feel the energy the fans are giving me. It’s awesome playing here. We know when opponents come here to play us it’s going to be a tough task for them to get a win. We definitely use it to our advantage.

On QB Russell Wilson…

It’s weird in the sense that it’s good for us. The first day he came in you knew there was something different about this kid, the way he prepared. I’m usually one of the first guys at the football facility, so when I pull up at 6:15 in the morning, his car is already in his parking spot. I’m like, man, this guy is special. When I came up here on Tuesday at 3 in the afternoon, he’s up here. You knew from day one when he got here how special this kid is and the way he handles the huddle and the way he prepares himself. He’s definitely not like a rookie. You can see why he’s playing so well because he prepares himself better than anyone I’ve ever been around at the quarterback position.

On if he keeps in contact with any Jets…

I follow a lot of the Jets on Twitter, I follow a lot of the beatwriters and I follow the team on Twitter, so I keep up with them. Honestly, I’m good friends with Darrelle, D’Brickashaw [Ferguson], keep in contact with those guys when I see them in the offseason. So I follow those guys. That was four years of my life that I spent there so it’s only quite natural and then you have some of the guys that’s still there so I follow them pretty good.

On if he’s asked about the Jets often…

Not really. Some of the questions I do get are like “How was Rex Ryan as a coach? Is he a player’s coach?” And I’ll be like, "Yeah, definitely, he’s a players’ coach. He’s somebody that you’d want to play for." Or some guys, my kicker today asked me, “How was Mike Westhoff?” I said he was awesome. He’s another players’ coach that you want to play for. In a sense, they ask me about that. Individual players, not too often. We’re too concerned about what we’re doing over here.

On if he was surprised Coach Ryan was voted most overrated coach…

Yeah [laughing], I saw that yesterday and it’s kind of like, man, the Jets are 3-5 this year and he’s overrated. When a couple years ago, he [reached two AFC Championship Games] and things and such and he’s the best coach in the National Football League. You know how that goes. Every year it’s something different in the National Football League. But I was kind of surprised to see that because knowing that he’s a players’ coach.

On if he would like to return a kickoff for a touchdown vs. the Jets…

[Laughing] Man, I would like to take one to the house anytime. Last week I was trying to take one to the house. I knew that question was going to come up. There’s no added attention to me playing the Jets. Honestly — and I’m very serious when I say this — we’re concerned about what we’re doing out here, we have a really good football team, and we’re trying to put things together. So we’re not too concerned about our opponent. We’re prepared for them but we’re concerned about doing things we need to do in order for us to win the game. Would I like to return a kickoff for a touchdown against the Jets? Yes. Would I like to return a kickoff for a touchdown against the 49ers, the Rams or whoever it may be? Yes. So to answer that question, yes.

On the criticism Mark Sanchez takes…

Being in the National Football League, players talk about the players across the league and such and such. You kind of follow it but not too much. Initially, when Tim Tebow got there, it’s kind of like, OK, what’s going to happen? Is it going to be Sanchez? Is it going to be Tebow? Whoever the case may be. So it looks like they’re sticking behind Sanchez. It’s the best thing for him to have that support from the organization. So I’m sure Sanchez is the type of player that he works hard, I’m sure he’s trying to get things together. Like I said, I’m more concerned about protecting for Russell Wilson and trying to make plays for him.

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