Deducing forward motion within the bumper-cars off-season for the Seahawks coaching staff is nearly impossible. What can be said is that Pete Carroll is willing to risk some reinvention.
From afar, the knee-jerk assessments of the 70-year-old head coach is that’s he’s too old and stubborn to change. They obviously didn’t see, or failed to remember, the 2015 NFC Championship.
The Seahawks were down 16-0 to Green Bay until he approved a third-quarter pass from punter/holder Jon Ryan to tackle-eligible Garry Gilliam that went for a touchdown, leading to a preposterous 28-22 triumph and a berth in the Super Bowl.
For me, that play, alone, retired permanently the canard about fustiness. Even seven years later.
As far as Carroll’s response to a 7-10 season by making over chunks of his coaching staff, fans can only hope it’s the equivalent of another fat-guy TD reception.
After a steady trickle of reports over the past five weeks, the Seahawks finally announced Tuesday the newbies, internal job changes and titles for the 21 positions under Carroll ahead of his 13th season in Seattle (see below).
Most were on the defensive side, although the promotion of Andy Dickerson to replace the fired Mike Solari as offensive line coach is noteworthy. Dickerson a year ago came in the sidecar with offensive coordinator Shane Waldron from the Rams (quite a blow to the Rams, that), and it appears the succession had been plotted. The presumption is the Waldron/Dickerson tandem will reduce O-line misfires.
“It’ll be great for us to put Andy in the position of coaching the offensive line, maximizing all that Shane has in his background,” Carroll told seahawks.com. “Those guys work together extremely well.”
The exit of Solari, 65, followed the firing of defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr., 55, two of the most senior staffers. Apparently, if Carroll can’t get younger, his staff can.
The turnover was greatest on defense, where Clint Hurtt, 43, moved up from line coach to succeed Norton as coordinator. Joining him is a former colleague from the Chicago Bears, Sean Desai, who was hired as associate coach/defense. Another newcomer, Karl Scott, the defensive passing game coordinator/defensive backs, spent last season with the Minnesota Vikings after three years coaching DBs at Alabama under coach Nick Saban. Scott replaces Andre Curtis, who was fired with Norton after seven seasons in Seattle.
Carroll, who didn’t make himself available to the media, expressed — what else? — exuberance.
“It’s great to get everybody in the building for the first time together with our new staff and the new outlook that we have for the season,” he said. “The fresh start feels exciting. We’re looking forward to guys stepping up into their roles.
“The newness with Clint taking over on defense, and working together with an old friend of his in Sean Desai, gives us a really exciting outlook. Being able to bring in a guy the caliber of Karl Scott to take over the secondary, we’re very fortunate to have landed him as the passing game coordinator.”
Hurtt, Desai and Scott represent a changed hierarchy for the most important returning player, besides Russell Wilson, on the roster: SS Jamal Adams. As discussed earlier here, Adams going from 9.5 sacks in 2020 to none in 2021 is one of the NFL universe’s great mysteries.
Whether from scheme, talent or health, Adams notably under-performed his heavy contract. If the new bosses develop better usage for the game’ highest-paid safety, it will help resolve the Seahawks’ worst statistical blight.
As Seahawks followers know, the 2021 defense gave up numerous drives that seemed nearly as long as Lewis and Clark’s walk from St. Louis to Astoria. The result was the league’s worst time of possession.
The 435 minutes were were well behind league leader Tennessee at 567. Among the top 10 teams in TOP, nine made the playoffs.
Many factors influence the number, but the net effect of a league-worst total is that it keeps Wilson off the field, which is a primary goal of every opponent in his decade in Seattle. Last year, the Seahawks helped them do it.
The Seahawks’ often meager pass rush was given most of the blame (34 sacks; 23rd behind Pittsburgh’s 55). But the personnel misjudgments that developed into the trade of free-agent signee Ahkello Witherspoon and the cut of Tre Flowers, who wound up in the Super Bowl with Cincinnati, helped leave the secondary vulnerable.
Letting go of a longtime friend in Norton couldn’t have been easy for Carroll. But 7-10 was worse.
“We’re excited about it every year at this time,” he said, “but maybe more than ever, in that it just seems like it’s new and fresh and ready to get rolling.”
Whether newness means goodness is anyone’s guess. But seeing more quality from Adams and less quantity from the defense will be a good ratio to measure Carroll’s reinvention.
SEAHAWKS 2022 COACHING STAFF
Pete Carroll, executive VP, head coach
Clint Hurtt, defensive coordinator
Larry Izzo, special teams coordinator
Shane Waldron, offensive coordinator
Dave Canales, quarterbacks
Nate Carroll, senior offensive assistant
Aaron Curry, assistant DL/DE
Sean Desai, associate head coach-defense
Andy Dickerson, offensive line
John Glenn, linebackers
Brad Idzik, assistant WR
Kerry Joseph, assistant QB
Keli’i Kekuewa, assistant OL
Sanjay Lal, offensive passing game Coordinator/wide receivers
Damione Lewis, assistant DL/DT
Pat McPherson, tight ends
Chad Morton, run game coordinator, running backs
Karl Scott, defensive passing game coordinator, defensive backs
DeShawn Shead, assistant DB
Carl Smith, associate head coach
Tracy Smith, assistant special teams
Will Tukuafu, quality control-defense