Never bashful, Doug Baldwin pulled back the curtain a bit on the mid-season drama that helped the Seahawks turn around in 2015, saying that he clashed with coach Pete Carroll and assistant Darrell Bevell over changes that he thought needed to be made in the offense without injured RB Marshawn Lynch.In an interview in Los Angeles with ESPN.com’s Jim Trotter published Sunday, Baldwin talked about the early season struggles that made for a 4-5 start and put a return to the playoffs in jeopardy.
“We weren’t playing well, and a lot of what was being said (by players and coaches) wasn’t being pointed enough or sharp enough,” Baldwin said. “It was like, ‘It’s going to be OK, and I’m thinking in my head: Nah, it’s not OK. And it’s not going to be OK until we get our stuff together.’
“A lot of the leaders in the locker room, we started being more vocal — not only to players, but to coaches regarding the environment we were creating and the message we were sending. It took a while, but our play started reflecting how we wanted everybody to be.”
Baldwin was upset enough to confront Carroll about playcalling.
“I’m not afraid to say this, but Pete and I, we had heated debates on the sideline,” he said. “We had more debates on the sideline than in previous years. I want to help the team, and in my mind, as a receiver, you want the ball, you want opportunities to do things to help the team.
“I put my emotions out there to let it be known, and all the players will tell you, if you don’t have a player like that, that can harness that in the right way, then they’re not really worth anything. If I’m just out there, and I’m OK with us losing and not converting on third down, then what am I really there for? I’m just going through the motions.”
Baldwin described a confrontation with Bevell, the offensive coordinator, in which the receiver reverted to his “Angry Doug” persona.
“Bevell and I — we joke about it now — but we got into a very heated argument that some players had to step in,” he said. “It’s part of the game. If I could go back and handle it differently and act differently, I would. But I’m just very passionate about the game.
“Part of me wanted to go on a rant toward critics and say, ‘I told y’all.’ But another part of me — the part that has the humility — knows that my real goal and real focus is to try to win championships.”
Baldwin is in the final of a three-year contract extension worth $13 million, coming off a season in which he set personal bests for catches (78), yards (1,069) and touchdowns (14), the latter tying for the league lead. He had 11 of his TDs in the final six weeks as changes to the playbook and the offensive line helped create a more efficient passing game that reduced the rush pressure on QB Russell Wilson.
Baldwin and the Seahawks would like to get another extension done.
“Doug Baldwin is what we are all about,” general manager John Schneider said this off-season. “He has been a heartbeat player since he entered the building.”
Baldwin told Trotter than he wasn’t worked up about potential talks for an extension.
“I didn’t sign my new deal until almost June last time, so the offer is going to come,” he said. “John pretty much told me that the offer was going to come after the draft. Even if it doesn’t come, I’m not worried about it. Why not? Because there are other things I value in life. I don’t value worrying about that.
“We’re going to go back to the run game; we’re not going to be throwing the ball as much as we did. That’s why the only thing that I’m keyed in on is making sure that I stay as efficient as I was. Like, catch rate. If the ball is thrown my way, if it’s a catchable target, do I catch it? I think last year I had only two drops, maybe.
“I’m not going to get 120 catches a season. That’s not built into our offense.”
Seahawks add, drop linebackers
The Seahawks Monday waived/injured LB Christian French and signed LB Khairi Fortt.
A fourth-round pick by the Saints who left Cal early in 2014, Fortt (6-foot-2, 242) was waived in October that year and picked up by Cincinnati and put on the practice squad. He was signed by Jacksonville and played three games, then released the past August. His departure from the Saints may have stemmed from missing team meetings.
French was signed as a undrafted rookie free agent after the draft.