Mallett, Kaepernick and the ‘Pete Carroll offense’

This is Pete Carroll's vision, including on offense

Yesterday we brought you information on what the Seahawks might be planning for next week. I wanted to offer a few thoughts.

People have latched onto the information about the quarterbacks and the possibility that Colin Kaepernick has received consensus approval in the team’s scouting department. The other big headline is the suggestion Ryan Mallett is not part of the team’s draft board.

The same source last year told me, accurately, that Jimmy Clausen was not in the team’s plans and neither was C.J. Spiller. Both players had been projected regularly to the Seahawks with the #6 and #14 pick in the 2010 draft yet the team passed on both. Of course, they had many options among the top-15 picks but let’s not forget just how regularly both were mocked to the Seahawks.

Let’s start with the Ryan Mallett news. After all, I graded him higher than a lot of prospects in this draft. I understand the concerns that a lot of people have, but I also value some of the positives more others too. If I’m a team in need of a quarterback and Ryan Mallett is available on the board, then I’m giving serious consideration to making that pick. Not every NFL team will feel that way and it appears the Seahawks are a case in point.

When Jeremy Bates was offensive coordinator a lot was talked about mobility at the quarterback position and arm strength. This was a Shanahan-style offense that required a Shanahan-style quarterback. Bates’ departure made many believe the Seahawks would make clinical changes, possibly towards a more conventional west coast offense. I never agreed with that suggestion. This is the Pete Carroll offense – this is the Pete Carroll show.

Make no mistake that the direction this offense goes will be dictated by Carroll. Sure, the man charged with making the play calls may change and at the moment it’s Darrell Bevell. The idea, the philosophy on how this offense coordinates is being dictated from the top.

Jeremy Bates did not trade for Charlie Whitehurst, that was a decision made by Carroll and John Schneider. Look at the two quarterbacks that have arrived since then – JP Losman and Nate Davis. Are we seeing a pattern here? All three are mobile guys capable of getting the ball downfield. This was more than a pure Bates philosophy.

In Carroll’s end of season press conference he stated himself that not much would change on offense. The plan stays the same – they want to run the ball using the zone blocking scheme and they want a quarterback who can run bootlegs, handle play action and be a threat running the ball in order to further open up the attack. Bates’ departure was certainly down to the problems running the ball. The departure of Alex Gibbs played it’s part, because the party that won that battle didn’t achieve results. Yet the core value of the Carroll offense remains. They will start again with Tom Cable effectively running the ZBS and with Bevell attempting to bring it all together and be the designated play caller.

That is the strictness with which this situation is being handled. The flexibility that some thought might be there perhaps isn’t after all. They won’t be signing a quarterback and building around them. Seattle will draft a quarterback who fits their plan and while that doesn’t mean drafting any old QB who fits, it does mean refining the search.

It’s not that Mallett doesn’t fit an assumed version of the WCO that keeps him off the team’s board, he won’t be an option because he’s immobile. I don’t necessarily agree with this approach because I rate Mallett, but if you believe the information provided yesterday this is my read on the situation.


I anticipated a battle between Washington and the Seahawks for quarterbacks during the 2010 NFL season. Neither team was performing particularly well and for large parts were projected as picking in the top ten. Seattle would’ve picked 8th overall had they lost to St. Louis in week 17, instead they win a playoff game and the rest is history. It’s not much of a competition now with the two picking at opposite ends of the first round.

The Bates connection to Shanahan really was the catalyst for this thinking, but as I mentioned before it’s looking more and more like the ‘Carroll’ offense is based around some similar aspects. I am absolutely certain that given the opportunity Washington will draft Jake Locker tenth overall. I think Seattle would do the same if roles were reversed. Pete Carroll is a Jake Locker fan and I truly believe he’d love to coach the guy in Seattle, what’s more he fits what they want to do on offense perfectly.

Would they consider trading up? I seriously doubt it. Imagine the backlash such a move would create, particularly because it would almost certainly involve 2012 compensation to get as high as #9. The reality is they are left with little option here and Locker is out of their hands.


My source speculated that Kaepernick had received consensus approval in the Seahawks draft camp. This is another guy who fits the mantra – mobility, arm strength, character. I have seen two games from Kaepernick (vs Boise State and vs Boston College) which is not enough to make a valid opinion. In comparison, I’ve seen 10+ games from Ryan Mallett and Cam Newton because I have a lot more access to the SEC.

I’d recommend reading Kip Earlywine’s report on Kaerpernick if you want a better opinion on the guy.

I spoke to a friend yesterday who is very knowledgable on the draft and he informed me of two scouts he knew who both rated Kaepernick highly, one even graded him 14th overall on his big board. Perhaps he is ranked higher than a lot of the draft media has been reporting? It wouldn’t be the first time someone flew under the radar (see: Tyson Alualu).

Perhaps the Seahawks view Kaepernick as a viable alternative at quarterback and one they would be willing to make the investment on?

Yet here’s the important thing to remember – my source said they like Kaepernick, but this only produces a possibility. What if there’s a shock and he’s off the board before #25? What if someone else falls? What if the Seahawks actually grade 3-4 players higher than Kaepernick and they are available, or what if a trade down the board isn’t possible?

There’s a big difference between rating someone highly and actually pulling the trigger. I wouldn’t assume the Seahawks will draft Kaepernick, I’d just prepare yourselves for it being a possibility.


  1. Caleb

    As much as it is an unpopular and even improbable pick, I still would love Mallett to the Hawks. I think that if we don’t get him somehow, and especially if we pass on him, that I will always regret what might have been. Yeah he is not the ideal scheme fit, but the potential is so awesome…really still hoping this friend of yours is smoke-screening hard Rob.

    • Sergeant king

      I have seen nearly every play of Nevada since KAP and hands down he is the top QB. I sure hope he can land in KC, replace incapable Cassel, and go wild

    • Vin

      I could not agree more. I just see him as sort of the next Peyton Manning….I mean I know thats saying A LOT, but he can make all the throws, his knowledge of the game appears light years ahead of the other QB prospects. To me, he can be that type of player. From this fan’s point of view, which means absolutely jack, all the ‘pluses’ far outweigh the one KNOWN minus–immobility.

      Who was the last mobile QB to put his team on his shoulders and carry them to the SB? Big Ben? Except for that last drive against the Cards, I’d attribute those Steeler victories to that defense. Elway comes to mind, but I think the years he won the SB, he threw more and the running game was awesome. Manning(s), Brady, Brees, Rodgers……..those guys win/won with their head and their arm, not their legs. And behind them, Id say the other great QBs in the league are Rivers, Schaub, Ryan & Cutler. I think Josh Freeman is really the only QB that has a chance to break that mold.

      Point being….the Manning/Brady types are the QBs we’re consistently seeing in the post season and that trend looks to continue for the foreseeable future.

      Or we could always build a kick@$$ defense and run with Dalton…..not!

      • Vin

        I didnt realize that I didnt put Mallet’s name in my post. My post is suppose to agreeing with Caleb. Im Pro-Mallet.

      • Matt

        Rodgers isn’t mobile? Sure, in the SB, he didn’t run much, but no Packer did. In the regular season, Rodgers was 3rd overall in rushing, just a few yards behind Josh Freeman despite missing a couple games (Vick #1, obv). Rodgers was 4th overall in YPC amongst QBs with at least 20 rushing attempts, behind Shaun Hill, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and of course Vick.

        And by the way, Cutler was 6th in the league for QB rushing yards. Big Rape was 9th.

        • Vin

          Sorry, I guess I shouldnt have said ‘Mobile.’ I guess it all depends on what we deem ‘mobile’. Even Peyton’s gotta run once in awhile. But what I was trying to imply is that I’d rather have a QB with the arm & head to run an offense, than a guy who’s got legs and can possibly outrun most LB’s.

          • Matt

            Well, yeah, of course. People who can outrun LBs but can’t throw we usually call “wide receivers.”

            But mobility is an asset. Look at the havoc wrought by Vick last season. When teams were selling out against him running, he burned them deep. When they sold out against the pass, he scrambles for 20 yards. Rodgers wasn’t quite as effective in that regard, but they more than once lined up with something like 3 wide, 1 RB, TE on the goal line and then had Rodgers sprint to the corner of the end zone on a “bootleg” that looked oh-so-easy.

            But Kaepernick isn’t the sort who can’t throw. He can. He packs a cannon, and his accuracy is no slouch, either.

          • Deric

            No one will deny that mobility is not an asset. Sure Vick will bust off a run, and then if a D tries to defend the run Vick will go deep with a pass. But last time I checked, Vick hasnt been to a superbowl. He might lead the league in rushing for the next 5 years but Id bet the eagles get no further than they did last year.

            If the Hawks are picking 2 athletic QBs over a pure pocket passer, thats just crazy to me. Seems to me that it would be way easier to show a guy how to move around in the pocket or build an offense around a ‘statue’ like Mallet than teaching a QB how to read a defense, go to his 2nd or 3rd option, drop back from under center, etc.

            And Mallett did it against the SEC……not the WAC or PAC-10. It would be a progression from the best in college to the best of the best.

            I just want the draft already, Da** It

  2. Karlos

    I say we build our interior line (Unger coming back will help), let Andrews start at right tackle, bring in a mid round pick (versatile guard or tackle) with our 2nd round pick if we miss out in the 1st to compete & somewhere in the draft get a corner. I know were developing alot of them but beleive it or not Trufant is on a rollercoaster thats not going up-hill. One thing Carroll said talked about was how having a mobile quarterback takes pressure from your O-line if this is true then Mallet is off the radar because Hasselbach can beat him in a race. After last season I am a fan of or front office & I know they’ll put the peices in place.

  3. Chinatown

    Rang and some other guys from CBS Sports did a chat today and one of them said Mallet is definitely on the Hawks board. I still like the idea of trading down and stockpiling 2nd and 3rd round picks for next year.

    • Rob

      A lot of people thought Clausen was on Seattle’s board last year.

  4. Matt

    Yikes, Dalton #3 QB on their board. Looks like I am losing faith in this regime if that’s the truth. I can’t emphasize enough how bad of a draftpick he would be.

    • Matt

      As in worst draft pick in the history of Seahawk football if he is chosen.

      • Matt

        Also means they closed their eyes during senior bowl week when his throws cut through the wind like a kite in a tornado. So discouraging this is what they think of this clown.

        • Kip Earlywine

          I’m guessing they see Dalton as a target in rounds 2-4.

          I took a closer look at Dalton today, and I’d sum him up so far as being a less athletic, less handsome Charlie Whitehurst though with better leadership ability. Dalton played in a shotgun formation every snap I saw and NEVER made a second read. More than that, he was regularly locking on to a single receiver. Fools gold, but so was CBJ and our FO fell for it once already, so who knows.

          • Kip Earlywine

            If I redid my QB rankings, I’d definitely have Stanzi ahead of Dalton now and probably ahead of Ponder too.

          • FWBrodie

            Last spread QB limited physically I fell for was Graham Harrell. Not making that mistake again. Nice, smooth throwing motion though.

  5. jordan

    i don’t like any of the qbs coming out this year, i say tank the season next year and get luck

  6. PatrickH

    I wonder if Pete Carroll’s experience with Drew Bledsoe has turned him off from immobile quarterbacks. I lived here in Massachusetts for 15 years and been through the Patriots seasons with Carroll. Because he couldn’t scramble away, Bledsoe couldn’t handle inside pressure and has a tendency to throw interceptions in those situations (costing the Pats a few games). That in turn contributed to Pete being fired. Perhaps PC doesn’t want to go through the same experience again with Mallett. It probably doesn’t help that Mallett had thrown a few costly interceptions in Arkansas under similar circumstances.

  7. Derek

    I guess I am a little confused. Did Carroll ever have really mobile guys at USC? I don’t remember Matt Leinart, John David Booty, Mark Sanchez, Carson Palmer or Matt Barkely ever described as “mobile quarterbacks”. Is Carroll looking simply for mobility to run a bootleg or mobility as in a Vince Young or Michael Vick, because he never had a QB with the traits of Vick or Young on his rosters as USC to my knowledge.

    • PatrickH

      Probably not the Vick kind of mobility, but rather enough mobility to run a bootleg or to buy time from pressure.

      • Rob

        I think we need to establish the difference between USC and the NFL. In SoCal, he could always bring in 5-star talent to surround the quarterback. It’s not that simple in the NFL. A lot is different already at this level that we didn’t see at USC and I think that will continue.

  8. akki

    So the biggest knock on Kaepernick is that the Pistol offense is useless for transitioning to a pro system. So does anyone know why being in a Pistol is worse preparation for the NFL than being in a spread offense in college? Are Dalton and Gabbert significantly closer to playing in a pro-style offense than Kaepernick is. If yes, how so? Seems on the surface that both offenses have rudimentary routes and only require the qb to make one read.

    • PatrickH

      Pistol is actually a form of spread offense. The difference is that conventional spread offense has the RB lined up next to the QB, while the pistol has the RB lined up behind the QB. In both cases, the QB is several yards farther back from the center.

      Spread offense can be run-oriented (with the emphasis on using the QB as a runner) or pass-oriented (with the emphasis on using the QB as a passer). Cam Newton in Auburn and Tim Tebow in Florida operated in the run-oriented version, while Gabbert in Missouri (and Drew Brees when he was in Purdue) operated in the pass-oriented version. The ones in the pass-oriented variety are more ready for the NFL. I haven’t watched TCU or Nevada, so I don’t know which version Dalton and Kaepernick operated in.

      • Dawn

        The pistol is definately run oriented with an emphasis on pre-snap reads. (Ex. Kaepernick had over 200 rushing yards and 3 rushing touchdowns against California, + 2 passing touchdowns). Dalton was more of a pure passer. His accuracy numbers were hurt a bit in that he was not shy about throwing the ball away. Seems smart given that great TCU defence.

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