Have you ever been rudely interrupted from a nice, restful dream? To the point where you’re grasping at straws, mad that you couldn’t continue the fast-fading fantasy? That was me, jerked awake from a disco nap to texts about the jarring news that Pete Carroll is now done as Head Coach of the Seattle Seahawks.
This is one of those seismic events that most 12’s will remember exactly where they were when they heard the news. Is it a universal truth that you don’t realize it’s the golden years of your life until that time period has passed? Sometimes the sense of finality in sports is wild.
Why is Pete Carroll no longer head coach of the Seattle Seahawks? He racked up the most wins and the highest win percentage of any coach who has ever walked the sidelines for the Hawks, shocking the world, garnering rare national spotlight for Seattle, Washington and bringing the city its first ever Lombardi trophy. Didn’t he deserve to walk out on his own terms as a 72-year-old legend?
Straight off top, I don’t necessarily agree with the decision. I thought that Pete Carroll should’ve been given at least one more year to guide this young core and reap the rewards now that he finally got to spend the entirety of the bounty of draft capital that he received for the trade of Russell Wilson.
I don’t necessarily agree with the decision, but I can see how one could justify it. Let’s explore.
When I look at the roster situation of the Seattle Seahawks, it appears ‘fairly straightforward’ how you could set about improving the offense: resign Damien Lewis, let the award-winning Olu Oluwatimi start at center as a sophomore and draft an elite offensive guard and a versatile TE at some point. Boom, we can cook with that. Geno (Pro Bowler) Smith can cook with that, along with all of the other weapons in-house.
The problem is, I don’t know how to fix the defense 🤷🏾♂️ Seattle’s defense (Pete’s expertise) was supposed to have sneaky good potential this year… but it fell flat, even leading the league in missed tackles 🤦🏾♂️
The team spent on Dre’Mont Jones, brought back Bobby Wagner, Jordyn Brooks made a miraculous return from a torn ACL to have a breakout year, Boye Mafe broke the franchise record for consecutive games with a sack, Jamal Adams came back from injury, (Ta)Riq Woolen was a DROY runner-up last year, Devon Witherspoon might win DROY this year, Quandre Diggs finally had a healthy offseason, Uchenna Nwosu was coming into his own as our top pass rusher, Jarran Reed had a CPOY type season, Derrick Hall was drafted in the 2nd round, Julian Love was a captain from NYC that joined up, Michael Jackson, Coby Bryant, Tre Brown and Devin Bush provided depth *INHALES*.
This defense had flashes of ability, but gradually morphed into a liability on the ground, and one of the league’s worst in general.
That last sentence is not hyperbole: Seattle’s run defense and total defense the last two years have been worst in the NFL. That’s with supposed playmakers littered throughout. Maybe that’s why Pete had to go.
My personal favorite candidate for successor would be Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator, Mike MacDonald at this point. He took a defense that ranked 19th in points and 25th in yards the previous year and had them ranked 3rd in points and 9th in yards the next!
As an encore, MacDonald’s Baltimore defense was 1st in points and 6th in yards in 2023. Additionally, the Ravens were 1st in takeaways, 2nd in red zone defense, 7th against third downs and 2nd against 4th downs (some categories that Seattle was very poor in this year). He pulled off a similar resurrection job for the other Harbaugh brother at Michigan and is known as being a hard worker.
Say that Seattle ends up hiring Dan Quinn… that in itself will usher in a philosophical change to this defense. DQ’s scheme (which was 1st in takeaways the two years previous to this one) in Dallas is modified from what he ran in Seattle under Pete Carroll, and he has seen success everywhere he’s been.
If the Hawks decide to go with someone like Lions OC, Ben Johnson as head man, that may signal that general manager, John Schneider could believe the league is moving closer and closer to a QB-dominant game. While I think it somewhat minimizes the impact of Mike McDonald’s scheme contributions in a disguising defense, this well-written think piece almost convinced me in the last hour before publishing this article that Johnson could be the right choice. Do you go and get B.J. and offer Ejiro Eviro the defensive coordinator job for a young, dynamic tandem of new school football minds?
It simply could’ve been time for a change not only in scheme, but also with a new voice and a new vibe. The Seahawks got absolutely bullied in a must-win game at home against a Steelers team struggling to score points (the league’s 5th worst in this category), and down to its 3rd string QB, bruh. The Steelers shredded Seattle for 202 yards on the ground (132 of which being after contact)!
In one of the most sad and deflating Seahawks losses I can remember in some time, Pittsburgh rushed for over 100 yards less than 1/3 of the way through the 2nd quarter. Pittsburgh racked up more total yards (468) than at any time in their last 5 years as a franchise. Pete himself, after the loss to Pittsburgh: “Mindset needs to be different than it was”.
Isn’t mindset what has always so clearly defined what Carroll is able to instill in his team? By almost all measures, you can state that there was regression this year, not improvement. Seattle regressed in: points per game, points per game allowed, turnovers, turnovers forced, penalties, passing TDs, completion rate, rushing yards, run defense, etc.
John and Pete even took a big swing this year, mortgaging a bit of the 2024 future by trading a 2nd-round draft pick for defensive tackle Leonard Williams, in an attempt to go for it this year. That stab failed.
Team Chair, Jody Allen (sister of the late owner, Paul Allen) made the bold move last year to allow her mildly criticized (at the time) head coach and general manager to trade away the most popular quarterback in franchise history, in an unprecedented move. For a year, it looked like it worked: Pete shocked the world and snuck into the playoffs with a reborn Geno Smith at the helm.
This year, Jody boldly let go of an all-time franchise coach. Coach Carroll embraced adversity and attacked every game, every practice with childlike fervor and focus. We Seattle fans owe him much awe and gratitude for the winning culture he instilled, and for all the ways he made us smile and cheer.
“It’s been an honor, and a thrill to be a part of this program, and I’ve loved every minute of it. And you’ve watched me love it, in particular”— Snippet from Pete Carroll’s final press conference
Peter Clay Carroll was clearly the best thing to ever happen to pro football in Seattle. Coming from a dynastic run at USC, he became 1 of 3 coaches to win both a Super Bowl and a national title (Barry Switzer, Jimmy Johnson), and is the only HC in history to win at least 10 playoff games and 5 college bowl games. I mean DAMN.
From being criticized during his first year on the job for being the first losing team to make the playoffs in 2010, to then upsetting the defending champion New Orleans Saints that same year, unleashing the Beast Quake on the world. From unafraid to let 3rd-round pick, Russell Wilson earn the quarterback job over hyped (at the time) addition, Matt Flynn. From insane and improbable comeback wins against the Packers, to major changing of the guard moments against the 49ers to the most convincing Super Bowl win ever witnessed against the Broncos.
Carroll was a SoCal rockstar hiking up to the oft-gloomy, sometimes shimmering emerald outpost of the PNW to inject energy and confidence into this organization. We need to give him his flowers, as the architect of one of the most sustained and dominant defenses of all-time. Unfortunately, we are far off from that point in time now.
In the immortal words of Harvey Dent: “You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain”. At least Seattle fans can take solace in Pete Carroll leaving as a hero and legend, his firing a shocking move to most Seattleites after never hitting any marker of ineptitude. Mayyyybe we’ll even get a team to give up a pick for him in the near future??
Someday I will write a proper ode to Pete Carroll and the influence, excitement and passion that he brought to Seattle. For now, we must pivot to picking up the pieces and what must now be done. A man named Schneider is now even more prominently featured as the driving force behind Seahawk football.
The Isley Brothers have made a career out of adapting with the new waves of music, which can sometimes be an elusive trait for many artists. This is John Schneider’s chance to keep the Seahawks riding the summer breeze to stay ahead of the curve of where the league is going. Let’s not forget that he is a competitor as well, and has earned the chance to call the shots.
While it’s easy to be either of (or both) nervous and excited about the future, it’s difficult to say goodbye to an all-time franchise legend. Will the future of the Seahawks hold more triumph than pain? That is never a known, or a given in life or in football.
All we can do as 12’s is journey, with our bindle sticks, into the great unknown. Thank you for everything, Pete Carroll.