Richard Sherman had a meltdown on the Seahawks sidelines last week. Instead of fracturing the team, it brought the group closer together.
Seattle’s win over Atlanta on Sunday wasn’t short on storylines. The game featured two teams with one loss looking to vault themselves to the top of the NFC and create a sizable separation in their division races.
Some of the dominant storylines included the following:
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The Falcons number one offense against the Seahawks stout defense.
Former Seahawks Defensive Coordinator, Dan Quinn coming back to Century link to face Pete Carroll.
Matt Ryan vs. Russell Wilson
Julio Jones facing Richard Sherman.
Heck, there was even some controversy surrounding the way the game ended (by the way, the national narrative that Seattle gets all the breaks at home is getting old. For those who think that please try watching an entire 60 minutes of football someday and see if the calls are consistently favoring one team. Also please tell me why a team should be rewarded for throwing up a fourth and forever, eyes closed, desperation heave? I’ll leave it there for now).
Yes there was and is plenty to talk about with regard to Sunday’s game. But one thing trumps all of those stories; What in the world happened on the sideline in the third quarter? In short, culture happened.
Things had been going swimmingly for the Hawks as they found themselves in control of the game 17-3 heading into halftime. The game shifted, early in the third quarter when Matt Ryan found a wide-open Julio Jones streaking down the sideline for a touchdown. The score was quite obviously the result of a blown coverage assignment. There appeared to be a miscommunication in the Seahawks secondary, and that left Richard Sherman absolutely fuming.
Sherman came off the field yelling in frustration. He was quickly greeted by defensive teammates including an injured Kam Chancellor. Apparently Chancellor, dressed in street clothes, said something Sherman was not in the mood to hear. The all pro corner got in the face of his teammates and seemed to come further unglued . At this point viewers were left to wonder whether or not a brawl was about to break out on the Seahawks sideline. What happened next shocked everyone.
Led by Bobby Wagner most of the defense literally began to rally around the hot-tempered Sherman. Teammates began jumping around in Sherm’s face doing their famous “Whose got my back” chant. By the end of the strange exchange Richard Sherman appeared to cool off a degree or two and refocus on the game.
That might have been the single strangest yet simultaneously awesome moment I have witnessed in all of my years of football fandom. What in the name of Steve Largent was that all about? Many might label that sequence as a group of men who have clearly lost their minds, and I wont say those who think that are wrong. But again I will say, that’s what it looks like when an organization has a strong culture.
Yes, it’s clear that those within the Seahawks culture are clearly living in a different universe than the rest of us. If you ask me, that’s a good thing. This group is so close and so focused on the task of winning at everything that there isn’t a shred of normalcy amongst this group.
This goes beyond NFL athletes being ultra competitive. I can’t think of time I’ve seen another team perform a mid game demonstration of unity quite like this. But as strange and unexpected as it was, it really didn’t surprise me.
To me I see full submersion into the Pete Carroll culture. That moment on the sideline was a crossroads of sorts that could’ve negatively impacted the team. Instead it became a positive and that is exactly what the culture that bore mantras like “Always Compete” and “Win Forever” is designed to do. It’s Pete Carroll. In Pete’s world adversity isn’t only acknowledged, it’s embraced.
The Seahawks culture is one that allows individuals to be themselves, fosters competition, and forces eternal optimism. Most importantly, Seahawks culture works.
That is exactly why this run of success has lasted as long as it has. It’s why the Seahawks aren’t the Forty-Niners, Panthers, Cardinals, or the Cowboys from a couple of years back. This team under Pete Carroll is built to “Win Forever”. A strong culture is what makes this whole thing go.
Though the eyebrow raising moment in Sunday’s game was merely one example of the culture assimilation, it perfectly personifies the Pete Carroll effect in Seattle. These players weren’t told to perform this action. Even coach Carroll himself was surprised by the odd exchange, but that just goes to show this team has fully bought in.
In my mind that is how you gauge success. It doesn’t always show up in wins and losses, but when a strong culture is present on field success usually seems to follow.
A strong culture breeds success. That’s why what Pete Carroll has done in Seattle should not be overlooked. He has clearly figured out a blueprint and his staff and players have bought in. Talent and coaching creates a good team. A strong culture sustains it.