John Schneider was probably bored with answering questions about the offensive line, so he welcomed the chance to talk about his organizational philosophy.
This was back in March when the Seattle Seahawks’ general manager took a break in between sessions at the league meetings to chat about the state of the team, following a 10-6 season that ended with a loss to the Carolina Panthers in the divisional round. Schneider was asked for the key to ensuring harmony between the scouting staff and the coaching staff.
“No ego. Ego is the enemy,” said Schneider, who agreed to a contract extension Sunday. “And it’s being able to communicate, being able to communicate in a clear, concise fashion and make decisions as quickly as you possibly can. But knowing that, first and foremost, we’re looking out for the organization, No. 1, what’s best for the organization.”
Pete Carroll was hired before Schneider in 2010. The tandem has led the Seahawks to 60 regular-season wins over the past six years. In the NFC, only the Green Bay Packers have more victories during that span. The Seahawks have reached the Super Bowl twice, hoisted the Lombardi Trophy once and made the playoffs in five of six seasons.
Carroll was fired from his first two NFL head coaching jobs with the New York Jets and New England Patriots. In Seattle, he knew he had to find a front-office leader with whom he would mesh. In Schneider, he has that.
“John and I are really connected in every aspect of what we’re doing,” Carroll said in March. “I think he’s the best general manager in football. I think he’s the best guy to work with. He does everything he can, effort-wise and intensity-wise, to take advantage of every opportunity to add to our roster. He’s great at that. And his guys do a great job of evaluating and working through every opportunity. They compete like crazy to get that done.”
The Seahawks have spoken often about how this offseason has felt like the one following the 2013 season when the team was gearing up for a Super Bowl title. With talent like Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Bobby Wagner and Doug Baldwin all under 30 and signed to long-term deals, the organization feels as if its window for another championship is wide open.
Going into 2016, the Seahawks have only two first-round picks on the roster — Thomas and this year’s selection, Germain Ifedi. But the overall talent rivals any franchise in the league. At one point last year, 24 of the team’s 53 players were undrafted free agents.
The philosophy is simple. Carroll expects Schneider and his staff to search far and wide for talent. And Carroll plays the guys who perform the best, regardless of where they come from. It’s not that the Seahawks don’t make mistakes. In fact, they’ve made plenty. It’s that they’ve put methods into place to move past the errors and still field a quality team.
“We talk about ‘no walls’ at our place, so we include our coaches in the draft and in free agency, and they have buy-in,” Schneider said. “If they are recruiting a free agent and they don’t get him, they feel bad about it. But if they get him and they have their hands on him, they know that player is going to be coached up and taught. That’s the biggest part of it.”
Said Carroll: “We work our way to the point where we agree on everything, and that’s through give and take and really great conversation and respect for one another. … We get to the point where we agree on where we are going with something. And so I think it’s a marvelous part of our relationship with John and I, and that’s absolutely by intent. I anticipated the value that John brings and how extraordinary a factor he is in this process.”