Change usually comes when a person decides something new is necessary or desired. What has happened to the Seahawks in the past week is a less common occurrence. Pete Carroll wiped the slate clean with his coaching staff in order amplify his voice, his philosophy, his instincts. Carroll is the oldest coach in the NFL, and what he wants is less about seeking some new formula that leads to success, but a return to the one he knows will work. Some of us were hoping for new ideas to refresh this team, especially on offense. Carroll was as well, but his selections at offensive and defensive coordinator revealed his larger priority was achieving solidarity in the ranks and consistency of message. Seattle may ultimately need to more significantly update their philosophy, but Carroll will not be the coach to do it. What the Seahawks are left with is a coaching staff that will be unified and energized about taking the Seahawks back to what they know wins championships instead of forward to something less proven.

Out with Darrell Bevell, in with Brian Schottenheimer

This was clearly a move meant to accelerate my repetitive stress injuries. The eight extra letters in our new coordinators last name is likely to cost me at least 10,000 extra keystrokes per year. I’ll be sure to send the medical bills to Paul Allen. I plan to break down Brian Schottenheimer more deeply in the coming days and weeks, but I have learned enough to get a decent picture of the guy taking over for Darrell Bevell, and where the two may differ.

Bevell has always been a competent and above average coordinator. Schottenheimer has not.

Bevell has had success with different types of quarterbacks, receivers, and running backs. Schottenheimer’s greatest claim to fame may have been reducing the damage done by rookie and second year quarterback Mark Sanchez to allow the Jets to reach the AFC Conference Championship in back-to-back years. Look, though, at the talent disparity they dealt with.

Bevell has had at least one Pro Bowl player every season he has been an OC except his first year, and has had two Pro Bowl players in five of his 12 seasons. Schottenheimer has had just two Pro Bowl players total, and in only one season. Bevell has had two All-Pro running backs, and enjoyed a Pro Bowl back in 8 of his 12 seasons. There was some hidden talent that does not show up on the table above where Sidney Rice was injured for part of the season and did not play enough to rank first or second in targets. Similarly, the Seahawks had Rice, Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin in 2011, even if Ben Obamanu was second in targets that season. Baldwin led the NFL in touchdowns in 2015 despite not making the Pro Bowl or the All-Pro team. The bottom line is that Bevell had an embarrassment of riches.

Schottenheimer, on the other hand, was dealing with bargain basement parts. Thomas Jones may have been the best weapon of his career. Thomas Jones. The best receiver he has had was arguably Kenny Britt. His best quarterback was a 39-year-old Brett Favre who threw 22 TDs and 22 INTs the year he made the Pro Bowl for Schottenheimer. It is worth noting that Favre had 33 TDs and 7 INT the next season in Minnesota under Bevell. Was that the playcaller or trading out Jones for Adrian Peterson and Laveranues Coles/Jerricho Cotchery out for Rice and Harvin?

One has to assume the offensive coordinator had some say in offensive personnel decisions made during his tenure. Would the Jets pick Sanchez without Schottenheimer giving a thumbs up? Did he demand better parts or did he think he could make Cotchery a star? That will be something to monitor in the coming years as Schottenheimer takes over. He won’t have a Tom Cable-sized influence on personnel, but he will have some.

Even if the Seahawks add nothing to their offense, which we know they will, Schottenheimer will inherit the most talented roster of his career. Wilson is by far the best quarterback he has had and Baldwin is easily the best receiver. It is too early to tell, but Chris Carson may wind up being the best running back as well. The bar is pretty low.

All indications are that Schottenheimer is a grinder. He inherited his football philosophy from his Hall of Fame father. His offenses tend to be more conservative, but have been known to be complex. Rex Ryan was on 710 ESPN yesterday being interviewed about what Schottenheimer was like as Ryan’s OC back in New York. The one element of constructive criticism he had was that Schottenheimer needed to remember that it matters more what the players know than what he knows. He went on to explain that Schottenheimer is very smart and capable of envisioning all the checks at the line and the adjustments based on coverages, but if his players cannot keep up, it doesn’t really matter.

The implication there is that Schottenheimer is smart and prepared (something every story and interview I have read about him backs up), but that he has trouble transferring his knowledge to his players, and may also have a blind spot about that weakness. The positive spin would be that he simply has not had the right players to carry out his smart plans. He was the quarterbacks coach back in San Diego when they had Drew Brees and Philip Rivers. Both of those players credit Schottenheimer for helping them build their careers.

Austin Davis, the backup for the Seahawks last year and emergency starter for the Rams back when Schottenheimer was OC there, was interviewed yesterday as well and said he learned almost everything he knows about quarterbacking in the NFL from Schottenheimer in those early years. That was an interesting comment, both in that is said something about Schottenheimer and also about Bevell and former Seahawks QB coach Carl Smith.

I have a hard time believing Schottenheimer was going to be a hot commodity, which made it a little frustrating that the Seahawks appeared to rush to hire him. The best explanation involves a few different variables. First, Seattle wanted their OC to be able to assemble his staff, including the offensive line coach, and a lot of quality names were getting snatched up. One of the less understood aspects of the great parity game the NFL plays is that being eliminated from the playoffs gives teams a chance to snag the best available coaches. Some teams wait it out for good teams to finish their run, like Atlanta did with Dan Quinn or others are doing with the Patriots staff this year, but those teams generally have more trouble getting their top choices for assistants.

Schottenheimer has history with Mike Solari, the Seahawks new line coach. It is entirely possible that the Seahawks knew Solari was not going to last if they tried to wait for someone like John DeFelippo from Philadelphia. That brings us to the second likely reason the team made what appeared to be a hasty decision at OC, which is they probably heard through backchannels that either DeFelippo was not interested in the role, was going to get another job, or wanted more control than what Carroll was comfortable providing.

Both reasons add up to the team believing their options were only going to get worse, not better, by waiting. Schottenheimer clearly believes in balanced offenses, has proven a willingness to tailor his plans to meet his head coaches philosophy, and is hungry to prove he is more than what his track record has indicated thus far.

I was concerned that Schottenheimer would be an unimaginative playcaller, and therefore less capable of designing an offense that built on the unique strengths of Wilson. I’ve read enough now to feel less concerned about that. Here is one passage from an old New York Times article that I found telling:

Even if their studio-size quarterback quarters were cramped. Brees remembered the way Schottenheimer packed the place with grease boards that he filled with an opponent’s base fronts and pressure schemes, with tendencies and percentages. Brees said those boards were like Schottenheimer’s babies, and he spent three days each week perfecting them.

Some things never change. Because when the Jets’ offensive players talk about Schottenheimer, they echo the concepts Brees did, like creativity and innovation. Always, though, they start with Schottenheimer’s board.

Wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery said he could picture Schottenheimer in his office on random Tuesdays, a mad scientist drawing schemes with a diabolical laugh. At heart, Cotchery said, Schottenheimer remains a sandlot coordinator, diagramming plays in dirt, eschewing more traditional routes for the “when you hit the tree, turn right” variety.

“Every Wednesday, I’m anxious to see what he comes up with,” Cotchery said. “He definitely will draw something up in the sand for you.”

– Source: New York Times

There are also hints that Schottenheimer is known to expect a lot of his quarterbacks and holds them to a high standard. A standard that almost none of them have been able to achieve. Will he be able to get more out of Wilson than Bevell and Smith did? The answer to that question will likely determine his success in Seattle.

Despite success, there was always some tension and awkwardness in the way Carroll set up Bevell and Tom Cable to function. Bevell often did not even see the run plays until his players did during the week. There would be a tug-of-war at times on game day about play calling between Cable, Bevell, and even Carroll. One of the more significant changes will be simply consolidating gameplanning into one person’s hands. There is real potential for improvement just by having one person think through how he wants to attack a given defense.

One specific example of a change we may see is more quick passing and screen plays. Seattle rarely turned to halfback screen passes under Bevell for whatever reason. Davis mentioned in his radio interview that Schottenheimer utilized them a lot in St. Louis, and that he thought the Seahawks were missing that “changeup” element to their game that could gain a few yards when the offense was otherwise stalling. Amen to that.

We will dive more into Solari’s hiring later, but he is an accomplished offensive line coach. Seattle could have done much worse in that department. We have yet to hear who will replace Smith as QB coach, but almost any name will be an improvement.

The most optimistic assessment of the changes on the offensive side of the ball come down to these things:

  1. Carroll is dead set on reclaiming the team’s identity as a balanced team that can run the ball and has an OC committed to that goal
  2. The subtraction of Cable from the staff will have a significant and positive impact to personnel and allow for new schemes that could be more successful
  3. Schottenheimer is smart and hungry and simply has lacked the talent to execute his plans which allowed the Seahawks to “buy low” on a high quality coach
  4. A heavier hand and more in-depth preparation will unlock another level of growth from Wilson and his teammates
  5. Schottenheimer is more of an innovator than Bevell, and defenses will get a less predictable Seattle offense

None of these things are particularly far-fetched. There is reason for some optimism here.

 

Ken Norton Jr. replaces Kris Richard

Many people were calling for Ken Norton Jr. to replace Dan Quinn when he left for Atlanta. I was against it then, and was confident it would not happen because Norton simply is not a strategist or chess player when it comes to calling plays. His strength is as a motivator and communicator. Richard was the obvious choice because he was dedicated to preparation and paid a lot of attention to detail. What Richard lacked was experience and an identity. It turns out he also did not have what it takes to adjust his defense or properly gameplan.

Most folks call out Richard Sherman for his antics in 2016 that led to blowups on the sideline but forget the root cause. Sherman was furious because Richard left a call in the game plan that Sherman was certain would cause confusion and problems on the field. It did. That does not excuse Sherman’s behavior, but it was just one example of Richard being out over his skis as a coordinator.

There were rumors that he and Carroll did not always see eye-to-eye either. It would have been ideal for the Seahawks to get Gus Bradley back in the saddle, but he chose to stay down in San Diego. Carroll appears to have retreated to Norton who he knows without a doubt will reflect his wishes in terms of game planning and schemes.

The truth is this has always been Carroll’s defense. He is the Hall of Fame defensive mind on staff. My preference, and clearly Seattle’s as well, was to have someone in the DC role who could grow into a potential head coach of the future once Carroll moves on. Norton is not that guy. If the fallback is that Carroll will be more involved in the defense than he has in the past few years, than so be it. There are far worse fates.

There is a subtle message with Norton’s ascension as well. The former linebacker and linebacker’s coach joins a team that has seen the linebacking crew take more of the center stage for leadership and performance on the defense. Bobby Wagner was in the discussion for defensive player of the year. K.J. Wright proved vital to the team’s performance. Both have publicly defended Norton in the past and celebrated his return. With guys like Earl Thomas, Sherman, and Chancellor having uncertain futures, we could see the defense more clearly revolve around the linebacking corps who will be in lockstep with Norton.

Norton brings fun and energy to any team he works for. That has value by itself, especially for a team with veterans who do not always have the same enthusiasm they once did.

 

Carroll bets on himself

There had been rumors that Carroll was going to retire after this past season. He adamantly denied those, and his actions here appear to indicate that he wants the next few seasons of his career to reflect his philosophy and values without any noise in the signal. He is the spider plucking each thread to check the structural integrity of his web. He knows that if everything is as he designed, it will halt invaders and leave them with little hope of survival. Spiders have been spinning the same web for a millenia because it works. New and innovative sounds great until you go hungry. Carroll is weaving the web he knows. Opponents beware.

20 Responses

  1. kurt Z

    Here is what I find interesting – the Austin Davis / Schottenheimer connection. That can’t just be a coincidence, a shot across the ship RW.

    RW might have to learn how to compete again,… AD might be a legit replacement.

    RW must go back to the basics of being an NFL QB, by keeping his eyes down the field, throwing to guys before they break, stepping up in the pocket and ultimately, believing that the job of the NFL QB is to get the ball into the hands of his playmakers.

    His hold-on-to-the-ball at all costs decision-making is killing us.

    Reply
    • Hawkman

      If he had an O-line that could protect “AT ALL” in both pass and run blocking I might agree with you . He hasn’t so watch the all 22 and hope his brain isn’t so messed up from the horrible line play that it can’t regroup and come back to what it was in 2012 & 13 !!!!!

      Reply
    • Ban Bot

      That is a hot take if I ever read one.

      Wilson has competition–it is called GOAT. Look it up, Wilson’s first 6 years are amazing when compared against Brady, Manning, Rodgers, etc.

      For all the complaining about 2017 look at the context: Non-Wilson rushing ranked #32 in the NFL in both Yards, Average Yards Per Carry, and Touchdowns. Dead last. Wilson had more yards and touchdowns than the top 2 rushers, Carson and Davis, combined. Wilson lead the league in TD Passes, Total TDs, and Total Yards. His TD:INT ratio was better than 3:1.

      As noted the Seattle run game was horrible. Which is shocking as Wilson is a big aid to the rushers as defenses have to be mindful of him–which only serves to emphasize how bad that portion of the game was. Within the 10 yard line Seattle rushers were dead last, #32 in the league, when Wilson’s 3 attempts are removed. They had 20 carries for -3 yards and 0 TDs. Nearly 1 yard less per carry than the #31 ranked team. The team had one of the worst pressure rates and before it is blamed on Wilson holding the ball too long Seattle also had lead the league in pressure under 3.0 seconds since Wilson came here in 2012.

      There is something screwing going on when Wilson is blamed for a #32 ranked rush attack and leading the league in pressure under 3.0 seconds. You could blame Wilson for bad protection calls but at some point you need to see the number of free runners, constant pressure with 4 rushers, and horrendous run blocking and realize this isn’t on Wilson.

      Seattle should be building around Wilson. No player in the NFL is perfect but Wilson is a great and should not be looking over his shoulder. You get him an OC and personnel to build around him and go from there.

      As for Austin Davis, what a joke. He has 12 INTs to his 13 TDs in his 4 year career and 9.6% sack rate. His career accomplishments are giving Seattle fits when he was with the Rams.

      Reply
    • Cameron

      If you think that RW would ever be benched/replaced for AD, you’ve had one too many drinks. Simply not a possibility.

      Reply
  2. Kyle

    Welcome back, Brian. I’ve eagerly awaited your comments on the hires and checked in several times a day to see what would come up.

    These are reasonable takes. Every new hire comes with some risks and the upside for all three coaches is buried in lazy thinking about names and past performances.

    That said, I am skeptical that Schottenheimer was only lacking quality players to be the next great coordinator. Lots of coaches manage to scheme their way to respectability, and supposedly Schottenheimer is a schemer and detail oriented. Time will tell.

    Reply
  3. Uncle Bob

    So much grist for the mill. There will likely be a bunch of carping about any of the choices made for new staff……. and players as well later on…….and then later we’ll have some silent crow dining or a bunch of “I told you so’s…”. Since choosing new staff isn’t a democratic process for the fans, we just need to let it run it’s course and live with the results. Keep in mind though that we’re going through an annual ritual of upheaval……..albeit mostly different teams each year….as each has the “star of the future” coach/assistant who in many cases becomes a pariah down the road. Then again, speculation is the game the whole family can play.

    I think Brian nailed the driving force on the OC (btw Brian, save about half those key strokes by calling him Shotty……that seems popular for now 🙂 ) selection timing. Guys like DeFillippo are the flavor of the month and the risk of waiting out the playoff process

    Reply
    • Uncle Bob

      ….was too high. (That was weird, it just posted itself mid sentence, probably my fat fingers). I’m actually encouraged by the Brees comments (if not gratuitous)……despite the loss this weekend he was far and away the most polished/effective qb of all in the running. I hope that we don’t see a repeat of the two headed OC structure………..maybe Pete learned a lesson there.

      I guess we’ll get to Solari later, but also encouraged there with his pattern of power/zone blocking designs. The few decent running plays we had this season had elements of that. Muscle up our guys and let their athleticism/technique skills shine.

      At first blush the Norton announcement drew a scream of “NOOOOOO” from me. I didn’t like what I saw in Oakland the past couple years. But in hindsight I suspect that with another former linebacker as head coach, there may have been some internal conflict/confusion there that didn’t serve Norton well. The “old timer” guys on defense who played under him a few years ago seem stoked that he’s coming back. Could be that Richard never quite earned their respect fully. If PC takes on more of the scheming, given Norton’s temperament/past performance that might not be a bad thing.

      Reply
  4. Hawkman

    Shotty would not have been my first choice , but I understand why Pete would like him , so we’ll see . ANYBODY as new O-line coach is an upgrade to me . I don’t care what some former O-line men say, he had to much power and say in personnel choices and look where that got this team !!! Probably the worst O-line in the league ! BUT there is hope , at least now there is ! The O-line if and when it is fixed will go an enormous way in fixing the Offensive issues. So if they get that done, so along comes the rest of the offense . All they truly need is a Quality FA guard, draft a couple of stud Guards and then hopefully Fant or Pocic can be the answer at RT. I believe that will work especially after listening to Baldinger and Schlereth on 710 . They are Both quality references when it comes to the O-line play and personnel.
    Give RW a middle of the road O-line or better and he will settle down some. Hopefully he hasn’t gotten to mentally gun shy with 2.5 years of completely Horrible O-line play in front of him and will be able to run the offense instead of run for his life in actuality and/or mentally .

    Reply
  5. andy

    Good piece, Brian. But one question, if PC is so keen on his values, beliefs, and philosophy. What happened within the past few years? I thought he was the HEAD COACH who SUPPOSED to set the culture, tone, attitude, and mindset of the whole team. If you think he believed his staff didn’t carry out his “wishes”, then why stick with them?

    Reply
  6. Rowdy Yates

    Nice thought piece, Brian. You make a reasonable case for
    optimism.

    But the pressing question remains: How do I make fun of a name like, “Shotty?” I mean, it’s just not sporting. Oh, well, were’s my sitting-duck slingshot?

    My enthusiasm for this particular OC hiring is… curbed. However, plain vanilla is pretty damn good, if it’s homemade.

    Ken Norton = less penalties, hopefully.

    Mike Solari = Brown/(Roos-Ifedi-FA)/Britt/Pocic/Fant = Best
    Seahawk OL since 2005, hopefully.

    Fun off season. Go Ospreys.

    Reply
  7. Uncle Bob

    Hmmmmm……….so is this really a remake in PC’s image or is it more the work of JS? It seems that JS has worked directly with both Shotty and Solari during his stints at Chiefs and Redskins (a bit of a pattern there too). So……..is this a hint at putting PC on a shorter leash or another sign of the functioning cooperation between the two for a common goal? The optimist in me wants to believe the latter. For all that some fans like to believe it’s just a player talent thing, quality/performance/skills of coaching leadership/direction really does matter (not dissimilar to what we can observe in private business). Sure, what the “workers” do is important to success, but without inspired guidance/direction/leadership from management, the ship can easily founder. Let’s hope that these changes will lead back to the success we so enjoyed a couple years ago. Our competitors, especially in the division, have moved the curve…….we can’t stand pat………….and haven’t.

    As an aside, those that feel the need to belittle Davis (no I don’t advocate his replacing RW), remember, he’s a former Ram’s qb…………just like the two guys playing this weekend for the NFC championship, both of whom have been belittled, one of whom is backed up by another former Ram’s qb………………damn, that Jeff Fisher must have been a genius (insert sarcasm imogi). Never underestimate the weird and unexpected. And then there’s the case of Blake Bortles………………………..X files material I’m sure. Man it’s a weird year…………………………………………..

    Reply
  8. JC

    This was really reassuring to read, Brian. You’re not a sunshine pumper like some of the other Seahawks bloggers so I was ready for a rather gloomy assessment. But this seems fair. The sky may not be falling, and we should extend a little more trust in our coach since he’s been doing this longer than I’ve been alive.

    That being said, I’d feel much more reassured if Pete is basically calling the defense himself, not Norton, Jr. I believe he did this for many years at USC, so it’s not an absurd notion.

    Reply
  9. GO HAWKS

    Thanks Brian. That was another fair and balanced article, as usual. A little constructive criticism contrasted with reason for optimism. Perhaps I can come down from the ledge now. Before I do though . . . a little commentary of my own. Since I’m not a journalist, and don’t have to play nice, I can afford to be a little more critical when I think it is fair and deserved. Hopefully I will not be tarred and feathered by the “sunshine pumpers” JC referred to, but I’m willing to take that risk.

    I’ve been a Seahawk fan through it all, since their inception in 1976, and I can recall the number of times on one hand that we finished more than two games away from .500 over our first (nearly) 30 years. We were the most consistently mediocre team I can think of. Then came success, and this may only be proof of the old axiom that the only prerequisite for disappointment is expectation, but I must say that I have never been so frustrated with this team as I have been over the last 3 years.

    I can take the erratic play, the slow starts, the dropped balls, the missed kicks etc. I just can’t take any more stupidity from our coaching staff and front office. I know Pete Carroll won a Superbowl, and multiple championships at USC. I know he used to be a great coach (and will be a Hall of Fame coach). But about 3 years ago – right about the time we gave the Superbowl to the Patriots with the dumbest call in the history of mankind in any human endeavor – Pete Carroll had a stroke (or something) and has never been the same. I’m serious. This is not the same guy. Stupidity from Pete Carroll and our coaching staff is and has been the single biggest reason our adversity seems to be compounded week after week going on 3 years now, where games aren’t fun to watch, and we are invariably trying to dig ourselves out of holes we’ve dug through lack of preparation, lack of scheming and adjustment, lack of discipline (penalties galore), and a general lack of collective neurons.

    The fact that Pete kept Bevell there as long as he did is Exhibit A. Bevell has been the bane of my football existence for quite some time. How he kept his job as long as he did mystifies me. This guy was the least inventive, most predictable play caller in the league, and he rarely seemed to adapt. Everyone and his grandmother knows it’s up the middle for a yard or two on first down, then it’s up the middle again (surprise!) on second down for another yard, if we’re lucky and haven’t been moved back by holding penalties on one of our turnstile O-linemen. Then on third and invariably long, when the defense knows a pass must be coming and can pin their ears back accordingly, we drop back and go 3-and-out again, putting our winded defense back out on the field before they’ve even made it to the Gatorade cooler. On the rare occasion that we go long on first down, allow for more read options, or (imagine this!) punish a blitz with an effective screen pass, what’s amazing to me is not how well these plays tend to work, but rather why we don’t go to back to them more often. Instead, what he’ll go back to repeatedly are predictable pet plays like the lateral pass to the sideline. Hey, that hasn’t worked the last 11 times we tried it, but we must be due, so let’s try it again! Dumb. Just dumb.

    So while I’m encouraged that he’s gone (jubilant actually), my enthusiasm is tempered by a rather hasty choice to replace him. We’ll see how that works out. Schneider and Carroll are widely viewed as one of the best coaching-GM tandems in football, and while I agree they certainly were the best tandem we’ve ever had, they don’t appear now to be as good as they once were. The point has been made, most notably by Colin Cowherd, that Carroll cherry-picked the draft in his first few years because he had first-hand knowledge and experience with many of these players coming out of college. Look at the pro-bowlers, many of them late round diamonds in the rough, that came out of those first years leading up to Wilson: Irvin, Wagner, Sherman, Wright, Chancellor and Thomas. Since Wilson, however, guess how many pro-bowlers we’ve drafted? ZERO. That’s a long stretch of swinging and missing, and our current roster and salary cap problems reflect some rather chronic mismanagement of late. We have a lot of positions to fill, and very little cap room to get it done.

    As an old army buddy of mine used to say, “It is a poor general who tries to win the next war by fighting the last war better.” I think Carroll has failed to adapt. Brian, however, makes the valid point that he simply wants to get back to what he knows – a proven formula. The problem is that we’ve GMed our way into a cap corner and now have stars who are older, often injured, and expensive, which also translates into not being as hungry as they once were. We could try to go back to the high player turnover we saw in the early years, but we really don’t have the flexibility to do that. Time will tell whether this coach and GM can turn things around AGAIN like they once did.

    Reply
  10. GO HAWKS

    Before the lynch mob of loyal homers descends upon me, a little more evidence to support my claim regarding Carroll & Schneider of late . . . .

    WHY, for example, do we have no running game, which is supposed to be our identity? Because of lousy coaching, scouting and GMing. In preseason I told anyone who would listen that the signing of Luke Joekel was one of the dumbest moves I can ever recall us making, and this was before he had ever played a single down for us. We had the lowest paid O-line in all of football, and our highlights mostly consisted of watching RW picking grass out of his helmet or running for his life. We had whiffed time and again, in the draft and free agency, to legitimately improve the team’s Achilles heel, so what do we do? We go out and spend more money than the rest of our line combined on a guy who was never more than a bust when healthy who had just undergone two knee surgeries. How did you think that was going to work out???

    Our collective brain trust then thought Eddy Lacy, who ate his way out of a contract in Green Bay, was going to be the answer. We had to structure his contract in such a way, in fact, as to incentivize him not to continue to be overweight and out of shape. Does that sound smart to you? Duane Brown was a desperation move, and cost us two high draft picks. I like Duane Brown a lot (that is, if he signs with us beyond this year), but we had a shot at Andrew Whitworth in free agency. He was the best proven prospect in the off season. He interviewed in Seattle, but we had already wasted nearly 8 million on Luke Joekel (the Joekel’s on us), so they didn’t want to pay Whitworth what he was worth. Instead he went to the Rams, protecting Goff’s blind side. Goff now looks like a completely different player with good coaching and pass protection, and the Rams have one of the best offenses in football. We don’t. Whiff.

    Everyone talks about our O-line, which should have been our top priority for years, as it has gone from bad to worse, but we now have holes to fill on our D-line, which did not get consistent pressure on opposing QBs and our secondary often paid for it. Teams were routinely able to drop back on 3rd and anything and complete passes against our defense this year. We also need a couple of durable running backs who can take the pressure off of our passing game, a.k.a. “The Russell Wilson show.” That just isn’t sustainable. If Carson comes back healthy he can definitely be one of them. Rawls was in someone’s doghouse (Cable, Bevell, Carroll?) all season long, and although no official explanations were given for why we’d sit a healthy player like him who had previously performed at a high level, it seemed clear to me that he was repeatedly making mental errors, and that, at least to some degree, also comes down to coaching.

    Applying some old-fashioned accountability will go a long way towards fixing what ails us, in my opinion. We could get away with being the most penalized team in the league when we were winning, but when your victories are often by much narrower margins than a disciplined team would produce and you’re losing a lot of close ones, well, all those penalties just look like lazy/lousy coaching. I think we’ve been the most penalized team in the league 3 of the last 4 years, and this year we came within 16 yards of becoming the most penalized team in the history of the NFL! There’s something to hang your hat on! (Not.) Ifedi, for his part, distinguished himself by becoming the most penalized player in the league this year. Not cool when you generally aren’t playing very well either.

    It took Pete Carroll and John Scneider seven long years to discover that Tom Cable shouldn’t be shopping for the groceries. He may be a decent coach, but he is an abysmal assessor of talent, and we continued to rely on his choices when it obviously wasn’t working.

    So now we’re finally cleaning house with our coaching staff, but I think a lot of this points back to Carroll, and the fact that his cool, payers-first, gum-chewing, hip-hop culture has a shelf life, and I think we’re seeing that it’s starting to expire. The house cleaning is only as smart as your replacement choices. Mike Solari was chosen to be our new O-line coach. This guy spent his last two years as the line coach for the New York Giants, whose O-line may have been an even bigger dumpster fire than our own. Eli was constantly under pressure and they couldn’t mount a rushing attack. Does that sound familiar to anyone???

    Stupid-is-as-stupid-does. It’s hard to see this guy as the savior for what ails our chronically underperforming O-line, and I’m willing to bet there were better choices out there. Brian seems to be confident that Schottenheimer and Solari can work well together. I hope he’s right (he does know more about football than I do:-)
    I think, though, that hiring Solari to replace Cable looks a little like the move we made the day after our season ended, with a loss due at least in part to our kicker’s errant foot. Schneider and Carroll thought it was a good idea to send Steven Hauschka packing in favor of the Blair Walsh Project. Hauschka, of course, had a solid year. Walsh did not. In a league of 32 teams, Walsh was ranked 33rd (only because some teams carry more than one kicker). So the day after our season ends it is reported that we went out and signed a kicker who had been jettisoned from another team. What was his rank? 32nd. Seriously. That’s not just lame, it’s stupid and lazy. You can do better than that.

    So we have a lot of rebuilding to do and very little cap space to work with. If we release Jimmy Graham for his cap space, and the not-so-subtle fact that apparently no one can teach him to block, then we’ll need to add a stud tight end to our shopping list as well (Willson and Vannett ain’t it!). I’d love to say the future looks bright for my beloved Seahawks, but if it isn’t any brighter than our coach and GM have been lately, I think our near future could be rather bleak, which would be a shame given the generational quarterback talent we’d be squandering in the process. I desperately hope to be wrong!

    P.S. OFFICIAL DISCLAIMER: We were decimated by key injuries this year that would have tested even intelligent coaching staffs.

    Reply
    • Kurt Z

      That’s how I see it, a bleak future, and for many of the reasons you stated.

      I think this team is more likely to go 5-11 than 11-5 – We coulda been 5-11 this year cuz of all the injuries…

      Everyone has said if we kicked two or three field goals….

      Well the counterargument is, what if the season starts…. with a loss at LAR (Cooper Kupp drop in end zone) or the home win versus SF ( we were AWFUL that day ) then Houston (RW’s last minute pick should have lost that one)
      and Arizona on the road (33 yards in second half) and finally if SF plays Garropolo at their place….. he played for 30 seconds and threw a TD.

      Our division has been stacking draft picks for the last decade, SF and LA get young hot coaches/QB’s to lead that talent and what do we have, a sandlot QB who drops his head and runs around in circles, then chucks the ball up in the air, for grabs ( still think his completion to DB against Arizona is the worst / best play of the year in the NFL )

      Next year is salary cap HELL, plus no draft picks.

      Even without the Blair Witch project, our special teams were pathetic. Without any depth because of the salary cap problems, that’s where you really suffer.

      Plus we got a second place schedule AGAIN.

      Mark my word, after an 0-5 start, this team might quit on the old man.

      Reply
  11. GO HAWKS

    That’s a good point. A lot of our wins over the past three seasons (not just this year) have been smoke and mirrors. Through Wilson’s 4th quarter heroics, providence, a call or bounce here and there . . . we’ve pulled out quite a few games we deserved to lose. That’s why our wins are nearly as exasperating to watch as our losses. They are invariably riddled with mistakes, penalties, missed assignments, poor play calling, and shoddy execution on offense.

    Angry Doug got mad at reporters when they suggested Darrell Bevell’s lame play calling may be part of the problem, and he said that the players simply weren’t executing. I like the fact that he took personal accountability and didn’t throw his coach under the bus (Baldwin took the high road), but I respectfully disagree with him. Teams that are coached well, generally execute well. Time to apply a little truth serum to the equation.

    I’m also surprised, given the the mass exodus of assistant coaches, that the ax hasn’t fallen on our special teams coach. Field position is huge in this sport, and we were on the wrong end of it all year long due to poor special teams play, which has traditionally been pretty solid for this team.

    Reply
    • Uncle Bob

      We may be seeing a bit more patience exercised on replacing ST coach. The “right” guy in the minds of PC/JS might still be working and they don’t want to tip their hand and face the same amount of competition as they felt for the roles filled so far. We haven’t seen a qb coach announced (or even speculated that I’ve seen)……that could be another key pick. And speaking of picks……….with this much churning on the staff end it makes me wonder if they will be equally as active come time to churn players. The extent and quickness of these coaching changes surprised some, imagine if they start “cleaning house” on the player side with equal zest. A lot of fan favorites might be hiring moving vans. Personally I’d like to see a well measured form of that happen. We need to become more flexible in wheeling and dealing for impact players across the board. Some fans take a short view and only see the hole in the draft order, but we have plenty of assets available for deal making……….they’re just tied up in player salaries. Unpopular as cutting those ties might be with the fans, it would be a smart choice……………..no player is irreplaceable.

      Reply
      • GO HAWKS

        I think some of the patience you speak of should have been exercised in the more important hires we’ve already hastily made, where coaches are concerned. As for players, we’ll have to work some magic in free agency, because the draft isn’t going to get it done in the short term. I agree that some hard decisions need to be made regarding overpriced current veterans. Bennett should be the first to go.

        But it seems like every year we tinker everywhere else but where we need the most help – our O-line. Carroll & Schneider think they’re smart enough to build a great defense, and then shop for their line at Scrubs-R-Us. It just doesn’t work. And at least until now, no one on staff has had a clue as to what a decent O-lineman looks like.

  12. JoeB

    If the o-line is the main fix-it, the question is what is the cure. If zone blocking is less effective bc of the no cut-blocks restriction, then what system is the most effective for a PC balanced offense? Is Solari the one to implement it? Are we willing to purge those players who aren’t suited to that new system? Will JS find players who do without draining more draft picks? Time will tell.

    Reply

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