What Pete Carroll must do to succeed in the NFL

USC coach Pete Carroll is on the verge of leaving college to take over the Seattle Seahawks. Here are five challenges Carroll will face if he takes the leap back to the NFL:

Pete Carroll won't be able to win many games on talent alone in Seattle.
Pete Carroll won’t be able to win many games on talent alone in Seattle.

1. Win without talent stacked in his favor. Carroll was a master college recruiter, and in most games his USC teams had the superior roster. That will not be the case in the NFL, especially now with Seattle. The Seahawks are 9-23 over the past two seasons for a reason. This is not a good team. Their roster needs a serious makeover, and Carroll will not be able to fix it by landing a bunch of stud recruits and plugging them into the lineup.

2. Make the right personnel moves. Though he will have a general manager, Carroll reportedly wants final say over personnel. Be careful what you wish for. It is difficult to juggle the dual roles of coaching and compiling a roster. Salary cap concerns, contracts, free agency and preparing for the draft are issues Carroll did not have to worry about at USC. A key for Carroll will be having the correct people around him, competent people he can trust to help him build a winning organization. There are conflicting reports as to how much personnel control Seahawks owner Paul Allen is willing to give Carroll. But no matter how Carroll’s input into personnel is defined, his plate will be full, and he must be careful not to spread himself too thin.

3. Deal with NFL players. Coaching veteran NFL players is a different dynamic than coaching teenagers. Carroll has ample NFL coaching experience, both as an assistant and as a head coach with the Jets (1994) and the Patriots (1997-99). But that was more than a decade ago. Will Carroll enjoy dealing with pros as much as he enjoyed dealing with his players at USC? Will he be able to motivate players as successfully? Will he be able to manage all the egos in an NFL locker room — both his players’ and his own?

Seahawks defensive end Lawrence Jackson, who played for Carroll at USC, said the coach has the experience to make a smooth transition. "We’re dealing with a coach who has a track record of success," Jackson said on Sporting News Radio. "His philosophy worked obviously at USC. I think he would have to go back to his experience in the NFL, recount the things he felt he did wrong and the things he felt he did right. Use the experience he got at USC in dealing with players who have gone on to the league and have been successful. I think that he’s smart enough to be able to adjust on the fly."

4. Handle losses. It was rare for Carroll’s USC teams to lose more than twice a year. If Carroll comes to Seattle, he might lose two games by Week 3. Carroll knows that — he had a 33-31 record with the Jets and Patriots — but the sick feeling that comes with losing is something coaches never get used to. Coaching at a dominant college program insulated Carroll from having to deal with defeat on a regular basis. That could change quickly in Seattle.

5. Assemble an effective coaching staff. This is critical for any football coach, and it would be an immediate priority for Carroll. He reportedly is trying to persuade USC offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates to join him with the Seahawks, although Bates has a chance to become the Bears’ new offensive coordinator. The coaching carousel is well under way, and Carroll must move quickly to lure the assistants he wants and needs.

After suffering through a 4-12 season, Seahawks players should be welcome to change. Wide receiver T. J. Houshmandzadeh was sorry to see Jim Mora get fired, but hoped Carroll’s USC success would transfer to the Seahawks. "If it is Pete Carroll, I talked to (Bengals quarterback) Carson (Palmer) for about an hour," Houshmandzadeh told Todd Wright on Sporting News Radio. "He had nothing but good things to say. I’ll be excited about it."

Clifton Brown is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at cliftonbrown@sportingnews.com.

USC coach Pete Carroll is on the verge of leaving college to take over the Seattle Seahawks. Here are five challenges Carroll will face if he takes the leap back to the NFL:

Pete Carroll won't be able to win many games on talent alone in Seattle.
Pete Carroll won’t be able to win many games on talent alone in Seattle.

1. Win without talent stacked in his favor. Carroll was a master college recruiter, and in most games his USC teams had the superior roster. That will not be the case in the NFL, especially now with Seattle. The Seahawks are 9-23 over the past two seasons for a reason. This is not a good team. Their roster needs a serious makeover, and Carroll will not be able to fix it by landing a bunch of stud recruits and plugging them into the lineup.

2. Make the right personnel moves. Though he will have a general manager, Carroll reportedly wants final say over personnel. Be careful what you wish for. It is difficult to juggle the dual roles of coaching and compiling a roster. Salary cap concerns, contracts, free agency and preparing for the draft are issues Carroll did not have to worry about at USC. A key for Carroll will be having the correct people around him, competent people he can trust to help him build a winning organization. There are conflicting reports as to how much personnel control Seahawks owner Paul Allen is willing to give Carroll. But no matter how Carroll’s input into personnel is defined, his plate will be full, and he must be careful not to spread himself too thin.

3. Deal with NFL players. Coaching veteran NFL players is a different dynamic than coaching teenagers. Carroll has ample NFL coaching experience, both as an assistant and as a head coach with the Jets (1994) and the Patriots (1997-99). But that was more than a decade ago. Will Carroll enjoy dealing with pros as much as he enjoyed dealing with his players at USC? Will he be able to motivate players as successfully? Will he be able to manage all the egos in an NFL locker room — both his players’ and his own?

Seahawks defensive end Lawrence Jackson, who played for Carroll at USC, said the coach has the experience to make a smooth transition. "We’re dealing with a coach who has a track record of success," Jackson said on Sporting News Radio. "His philosophy worked obviously at USC. I think he would have to go back to his experience in the NFL, recount the things he felt he did wrong and the things he felt he did right. Use the experience he got at USC in dealing with players who have gone on to the league and have been successful. I think that he’s smart enough to be able to adjust on the fly."

4. Handle losses. It was rare for Carroll’s USC teams to lose more than twice a year. If Carroll comes to Seattle, he might lose two games by Week 3. Carroll knows that — he had a 33-31 record with the Jets and Patriots — but the sick feeling that comes with losing is something coaches never get used to. Coaching at a dominant college program insulated Carroll from having to deal with defeat on a regular basis. That could change quickly in Seattle.

5. Assemble an effective coaching staff. This is critical for any football coach, and it would be an immediate priority for Carroll. He reportedly is trying to persuade USC offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates to join him with the Seahawks, although Bates has a chance to become the Bears’ new offensive coordinator. The coaching carousel is well under way, and Carroll must move quickly to lure the assistants he wants and needs.

After suffering through a 4-12 season, Seahawks players should be welcome to change. Wide receiver T. J. Houshmandzadeh was sorry to see Jim Mora get fired, but hoped Carroll’s USC success would transfer to the Seahawks. "If it is Pete Carroll, I talked to (Bengals quarterback) Carson (Palmer) for about an hour," Houshmandzadeh told Todd Wright on Sporting News Radio. "He had nothing but good things to say. I’ll be excited about it."

Clifton Brown is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at cliftonbrown@sportingnews.com.

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