Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll walks the sideline in the second quarter against the New England Patriots on November 13, 2016 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. File photo by Matthew Healey/UPI | License Photo
Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll went on the offensive after two of his former defensive players levied verbal shots against him.
Cornerback Richard Sherman said Carroll's philosophy was "more built for college" while defensive end Michael Bennett told Sports Illustrated that he was so bored with the coach's message that he would bring a book to team meetings, a report that Carroll refutes.
"The thing I would tell you about that is that we've been through a lot around here, we've grown tremendously together and all of that, and changes are inevitable," the 66-year-old Carroll said, via The News Tribune's Gregg Bell. "Sometimes, guys can't hang with what's expected, for one reason or another -- their growth, their development and all of that.
"And the best thing I can tell you is, that they're not here."
After a 9-7 season and finishing out of the playoffs for the first time in six years, Carroll made the most significant changes to the coaching staff since taking over as head coach in 2010.
Eight assistant coaches were not retained, six new coaches were added and three coaches changed roles. Four assistants were fired -- offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, defensive coordinator Kris Richard, assistant head coach/offensive line coach Tom Cable and assistant head coach/linebackers coach Michael Barrow.
The Seahawks waived Sherman last month, with the four-time Pro Bowl cornerback immediately signing with the NFC West-rival San Francisco 49ers.
"I think it was kind of philosophical on [Carroll's] part," Sherman said last month on Uninterrupted's "The Tomahawk Show," hosted by retired NFL players Joe Thomas and Andrew Hawkins. "A lot of us have been there six, seven, eight years, and his philosophy is more built for college.
"Four years, guys rotate in, rotate out, and so we had kind of heard all his stories, we had kind of heard every story, every funny anecdote that he had. And honestly because he just recycles them. And they're cool stories, they're great for team chemistry and building, et cetera, et cetera. But we had literally heard them all. We could recite them before he even started to say them."
Sherman is the vocal leader of the Seahawks' defense that led Seattle to back-to-back Super Bowl appearances, including a Super Bowl XLVIII victory. However, he played just nine games in 2017 before he suffered a season-ending ruptured Achilles tendon. Sherman had surgery on his other Achilles tendon recently.
In December 2016, Sherman berated Carroll and Bevell over calling a pass play from the one-yard line in a win over the Los Angeles Rams. Sherman then made light of a meeting that was meant to clear the air.
"It was good. We just talked about the mood of the team and guys coming together," Sherman said in December 2016, per The News Tribune. "We have a Kumbaya meeting just about every year. So it was just the same thing. We don't sing the song. But we just sit Indian style; Kumbaya."
Bennett was acquired by the Philadelphia Eagles along with a seventh-round draft pick for a fifth-round selection and wide receiver Marcus Johnson in a deal that was announced shortly after the beginning of the new league year.
The 32-year-old Bennett has battled nagging injuries, including foot and knee issues, despite making the Pro Bowl the past three seasons. Bennett has 54 career sacks, including 8.5 sacks and 24 quarterback hits last season.
"Mike never brought a book to a meeting, I'll tell you that," Carroll said.