Black Monday in the NFL claimed a number of victims today as five coaches were fired. Whoever gets the opportunity to lead those teams will have at least some talent to build with. Each of the teams with a vacant head coaching position has at least one 2013 Pro Bowl player on their roster. Some, like the Tampa Bay Bucs, have multiple Pro Bowl players and a stable of promising young talent that could reach the Pro Bowl in the future. Many coaches are crowned as kings for coming into a team with pre-existing talent and getting the most out of them. Jim Harbaugh, for example, inherited all eight of his 2013 Pro Bowl players. The team was not winning before he arrived, but the talent was in place to be great. Pete Carroll and John Schneider are taking a road less traveled. The team they inherited in 2010 was coming off a season where there were no Pro Bowl players on the roster, and only one of their current Pro Bowl players, Max Unger, was even on the roster when they arrived. Should they eventually lead the Seahawks to a Super Bowl, this year, or in the future, they will become just the second front office to complete such a drastic turnaround.
There have been 47 Super Bowls and 18 different teams that have won. Based on the information I could find on Pro-Football-Reference.com, the only Super Bowl winner to come from a front office that inherited a similar situation to what Carroll and Schneider took on was Ron Wolf and Mike Holmgren in Green Bay. They won the Super Bowl in 1996, but the roster they inherited in 1992 was coming off a season without any Pro Bowl players. And, the only player on that 1991 roster they took over that eventually become a Pro Bowl player for that 1996 championship team was LeRoy Butler.
I scoured the rosters of each of the Super Bowl winners looking for: players that made the Pro Bowl the year before the new front office arrived, and Pro Bowl players from the Super Bowl winning year that were on the roster when they arrived, but had not reached that status yet.
The 2001 Patriots with Bill Belichick were close, but Lawer Milloy was a Pro Bowl players when he arrived, and played on the championship team. Troy Brown and Ty Law were also on the roster, and became Pro Bowl members of the 2001 squad.
Bill Parcells 1986 Super Bowl team in New York had a roster that already included names like Lawrence Taylor and Harry Carson before he arrived.
Mike Ditka won a championship in 1985 with the Bears, but Walter Payton and Gary Fencik were existing Pro Bowlers and a guy named Mike Singletary was already in tow.
The 1992 Cowboys completely overhauled their roster when Jimmy Johnson arrived in 1989, leading to a dismal 1-15 record one season. Even Johnson, though, had Herschel Walker on the squad when he got there, and a young trio of Nate Newton, Michael Irvin, and Ken Norton Jr. ready to blossom.
Joe Gibbs had Joe Theismann, Art Monk, Mike Nelms and Mark Mosley there when he arrived before eventually winning in 1982.
The perfect 1972 Dolphins were led by Hall of Fame coach Don Shula. He had a Pro Bowler named Jim Kiick on the roster when he got there, and three guys that would grow into Pro Bowlers that championshop season in Larry Csonka, Mercury Morris and Dick Anderson.
There are four players on the current Seahawks roster that were around in 2009 before Carroll arrived: Jon Ryan, Max Unger, Brandon Mebane and Red Bryant. Only Unger has made the Pro Bowl. Mebane has an outside chance at All-Pro consideration, and deserves it, but is unlikely to be recognized for his work.
Almost every core piece of the a team many consider the odds-on favorite to win the Super Bowl this season was added by the two men leading the team right now. Where most coaches and general managers come into an apartment and renovate, Carroll and Schneider moved into a crack house, tore it down to the studs, and built a luxury high rise.
The time it would take to research how many front offices have even been able to take a roster without Pro Bowlers and become the #1 seed four years later is just too tedious with the tools available, but I’d wager the list is very short.
Carroll and Schneider do not need to win a Super Bowl to validate their accomplishment. What they have done to this point is remarkable in it’s own right. Should they lead the team to a championship, they will have done something legends like Parcells, Shula, Belichick, Gibbs, Ditka and Johnson never did. Go ahead and give the Coach of the Year award to Andy Reid for taking a team that had six Pro Bowl players from 2012 already on the roster, and all of their eight 2013 Pro Bowlers, and leading them to second-place in the AFC West. Name guys like Ryan Grigson Executive of the Year for drafting Andrew Luck with the #1 overall pick while Schneider was busy getting Russell Wilson in the third round. Anyone who cares to take the time and really break down what Schneider and Carroll have done in four short years will see true award-winning work. A Super Bowl ring is certainly the best way to drive the point home.