Seahawks coach Pete Carroll spent 20-odd minutes Thursday at the NFL Combine podium in Indianapolis providing updates on a litany of issues that will impact the team’s ability to return to the postseason after missing it in 2017 for the first time in six years. Carroll used much of his time discussing the coaching changes he’s made, focusing especially on new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and line coach Mike Solari, who replace the ousted Darrell Bevell and Tom Cable, respectively.
“This (offseason) is a great challenge for us, a personal challenge for me and a challenge for the franchise as well,” said Carroll. “I’m not satisfied with what happened last year and you’re seeing the result of that. I’m looking at the offseason as an altering moment for us, and sometimes you have to make tough calls to get that done. Every year is a dynamic opportunity and every year is loaded with changes and we were forced to adapt. I’m fired up about it.”
Schottenheimer comes to the Seahawks after spending last year a offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach of the Indianapolis Colts. He also worked as offensive coordinator for the New York Jets (2006-11) and St. Louis Rams (2012-14).
“He’s very well versed and can communicate on a really deep level based on his experience in a number of different systems,” Carroll said. “I think we are very fortunate to have him. I’ve watched his development over the years. He’s very bright, articulate and a gifted communicator and play caller. Brian is going to bring a new dimension. I’m really excited about Schottenheimer coming in and challenging Russ (Russell Wilson).”
Solari has worked in various capacities for eight NFL teams (he also coached at Alabama), most recently serving as offensive line coach of the New York Giants.
“I’ve known him for a long time and he’s a great football coach,” said Carroll. “He’s very strict, a disciplinarian. I’m really fired up about him being with us.”
Carroll hired Schottenheimer and Solari after the Seahawks rushed for only 1,629 yards last season. Due to injuries and ineffectiveness by the running backs and the general lameness of the offensive line, not one of Seattle’s six primary backs cracked 250 yards.
“We want to get back to running the ball,” said Carroll. “I’m really excited about getting the running game going again because everything feeds off that. I’m excited about Chris Carson.”
Carson had 208 rushing yards in Seattle’s first four games last season, but then had a season-ending broken ankle in a game against the Colts.
“Chris is tough, explosive, can catch and block. We loved everything he did. All of our guys are ready to roll and it will be exciting to see the battle that will take place in training camp.”
Carroll also addressed:
FS Earl Thomas, who is seeking a new contract and is the subject of rampant trade speculation: “Last year at this time I think Earl had retired. We haven’t had much of a discussion about a contract. I admire the heck out of Earl.”
SS Kam Chancellor, who missed a majority of last season with a career-threatening neck injury: “There is nothing new on that. We are waiting for the word from his doctors and are holding out hope that things work out.”
DE Michael Bennett, who ended the 2017 season by stating that he didn’t believe the Seahawks would want him to return: “I haven’t talked to him in a while.”
TE Jimmy Graham, an unrestricted free agent: “We would love to have him back. We’ll see how it goes. Keeping all of our guys are priorities.”
DT Sheldon Richardson, also an unrestricted free agent: “He’s a really good ballplayer. He has a knack for getting around the ball and he caused a lot of good stuff to happen last year.” (Carroll wouldn’t say whether the Seahawks would use the franchise tag on Richardson.)
CB Richard Sherman, who recently underwent a second surgery, this for removal of bone spurs : “His recovery is going well and it’s all very positive. He’s working like crazy and is having a fantastic offseason.”
Kris Richard, deposed as Seattle’s defensive coordinator at the end of the 2017 season: “It was just time to make a change. And we had an opportunity to get Kenny (Ken Norton Jr.) back in the program.”
LT George Fant, who missed all of last season with an injury: “He’s having a great offseason. We’ll see how far he can take it.”
K Jason Meyers, who signed with the Seahawks in January: “So far, he hasn’t missed.”
DE Malik McDowell, who missed his rookie season with a severe concussion after a vehicle accident: “Nothing new. Same kind of thing. He’s got a process he is going through. We get information rarely in his case but there will be a time when you will hear more.”
On Russell Wilson spending a week at baseball spring training with the Yankees: “I don’t think there is anything wrong with that, at all. The focus that it takes to play at this level, whether it’s baseball, basketball or football, to compete at that level, the mentality that you have to be at, I think it’s only enriching. So I have no problem with that.”