Seahawks Fans: Rule #1 Protect the Team

I think Seahawks fans have an opportunity — and responsibility — to do more to help the Seahawks be successful.

Have you ever seen Pete Carroll chewing out a player after a bad play? No. Or, at least rarely. Officials? Heck yes. Players? No. There’s a reason for that and it’s connected to why the Seahawks have been so successful. The reason has to do with player confidence. The subject of player confidence is a critical part of the Carroll philosophy. In his book, Win Forever, the word “confident” or “confidence” appears 68 times. That’s a lot.

In developing his philosophy of coaching, Coach Carroll has come to understand that one of the most important things he can do as a coach and teacher for these young players is to solidify their confidence in their ability to play the game at the highest, most competitive level. Without that confidence, the players will not play to the best of their abilities. So why doesn’t Coach Carroll yell at players when they make a mistake, especially in the heat of a game? Football is a game played by humans. Sometimes those humans make mistakes. If a player makes a mistake on the field, the coach can react by chewing out the player and undermining his confidence, or by taking a different approach and talking to the player about what has to happen from that point forward and bolstering the player’s confidence.

What does player confidence have to do with the fans? By our interaction with the team, we can help the Seahawks coaching staff build player confidence, or we can undermine the team’s efforts.

How do we help build player confidence? For the fans who see games at Clink, being the loudest fans in the NFL when the defense is on the field helps the players confidence. In social media interactions, we can add to their confidence by communicating with them that fans see the great plays they make, or the committed effort they put in, or the improvement in their play from weeks past – particularly if those plays or that effort or the improvement may not be featured on the highlight clips.

What do fans do that undermines players confidence? When fans call out the players for their performance or abilities, on social media for example, they chip away at the confidence that Carroll and the coaching staff have worked to build. Fans who lash out at players are not contributing in any positive way to the team playing well, and by attacking the players, fans undermine an important element of the team’s coaching objectives.

For example, the Seahawks’ offensive line is struggling at the moment. The O-line includes rookies, guys who are new to their positions, guy who are new to playing offense at all. I am confident that Coach Cable, Coach Bevell and Coach Carroll are doing everything within their power to coach these guys up, making sure they have the skills and knowledge that they need to play to the best of their abilities, and building their confidence. Some members of the O-line are getting outright hatefulness on social media from “fans” who are telling the players they suck. Or they should be playing better. Or they shouldn’t be on the team. Or on any team. When you attack a player, you’ve undermined his confidence – not to mention his motivation – when he gets called on to take the field.

Why would fans want to undo the work that the coaches are doing to put the team in position to achieve championship caliber performance by directing criticism and hatefulness to the players directly? Do we think a player doesn’t belong on the team? Do we think the player isn’t playing as well as they could be or should be? You know what? It’s not our call. It doesn’t matter if we’ve been fans for 40 years, season ticket holders, fantasy league champions, or winner of the Neighborhood’s Best Seahawks Christmas Decoration.

Criticizing the players directly is not only uncalled for, fans who attack the players are hurting the team. And Coach Carroll has a rule about that. It’s Rule #1: Protect the team. When we see “fans” calling out players, it’s time to remind them they’re not doing their job for the team, and that they should be helping to build players’ confidence instead!

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