PHOENIX —John Schneider didn’t know if the Seahawks general manager job was really that appealing. After all, he figured, coach Pete Carroll had extraordinary control — from his philosophy to hands-on approach to conducting the GM interviews in 2010.
“It was kind of a question,” Schenider said Tuesday. “Is it still a good job? Is it not a good job?”
It was, in Carroll’s words, a “completely different formula.”
Rather than the top-down structure of most teams — including the Bears — prefer, both Super Bowl XLIX teams, the Seahawks and Patriots, are run by head coaches with overarching control.
The Patriots don’t have a GM; coach Bill Belichick is, in all but the name.
Carroll and Schneider collaborate on the Seahawks’ personnel decisions.
If they could do it, why didn’t the Bears consider it?
When the Chicago brain trust fired GM Phil Emery and coach Marc Trestman, they insisted upon keeping a military-style structure with checks and balances. The coach reports to the GM, who reports to president Ted Phillips.
It is the opposite of what Carroll considers essential to his success.
“It’s what every coach needs, I think, to be at his best,” Carroll, who grew accustomed to total control at USC, said of the Seahawks’ system. “The format and the structure that is generally accepted in the league is not that.
“I understand why, but this is a football game that we play. There’s a business that goes along with it, but the football, I think, has to be run by the football people, and so I feel very, very fortunate.
“I thought this was an extraordinary opportunity from the day that I arrived in Seattle to prove that. We’ve set out to kind of show that this is the way organizations can be run.”
The Seahawks “needed our own way to do it,” Carroll said—“our own language and our own control and our own decision-making process.”
Schneider was convinced after his first meeting with Carroll, and took the GM job in 2010.
“The way it was explained to me was really a selling point, because he wanted to have his philosophies just as a strong core to what we’re doing,” Schneider said. “Every head coach should be that way.”
Belichick is. Asked about the structure Tuesday, the Patriots coach said he didn’t know how other teams behaved, and proceeded to praise almost every member of his organization.
“There’s no one person that can do it all, that’s even capable of doing it all,” he said. “So we try to use all our resources, pull them all together, and put the best team we can out there each Sunday.”
Schneider said the system works because of his relationship with Carroll.
He held one hand up high to illustrate where Carroll was on the national landscape in 2010, and the other below his waist to show where Schneider, then the Packers’ director of football operations, was.
The point: Carroll didn’t have to listen to Schneider, but did anyway. They discovered they believed in the same football tenets.
“For a guy that was as successful as he had been, his ego level was like … he was right with it,” Schneider said. “He was real.. …
“We’re both pretty pliable guys. And so the way we just hit it off, I thought it was cool. “
New Bears GM Ryan Pace and coach John Fox will need a similar relationship to turn around the franchise.
Regardless of the front-office format, it just won’t work otherwise.
“The big thing is, you have to have everybody in your organization on the same page,” said Tony Dungy, the former head coach who now serves as a NBC analyst. “And whether that’s being on the same page with two of us or the same page with one, it doesn’t matter.
“The key is, everybody has to believe in what you’re doing.”