Almost exactly a year ago, Pete Carroll defended Darrell Bevell for the umpteenth time, saying the many fans who wanted him fired “don’t know what they’re talking about. Darrell does a great job.”
But, after the Seahawks missed the playoffs for the first time in six years and put together their worst offensive season in Russell Wilson’s six, Carroll finally agreed with fans who have been asking him to make a change ever since that ill-fated call in Super Bowl XLIX.
With Bevell reportedly fired Tuesday night, after seven years as Seattle’s offensive coordinator, Carroll signaled that he understood big changes need to occur — that it is time to fix an offense that has been sporadic for most of Wilson’s career and finally bottomed out in 2017.
Bevell simply did not help Wilson enough — and the coup de grace had to be the quarterback’s major regression in 2017, especially in December. Yeah, Wilson led the NFL with 34 TD passes, but he also led the team in rushing — a big problem — and the Seahawks were terrible on first downs, in first quarters and in first halves.
Carroll lamented the slow starts: “Why were we mentally not clear to execute at the beginning of the game and then we could find marvelous ability to execute later on? That still remains a real issue for me and a problem for me, that we were so inconsistent early in games.”
Bevell was at his best when he had Wilson and Marshawn Lynch at their best — making people miss and creating something out of nothing behind an offensive line that was a major Achilles’ heel throughout Bevell’s tenure. When Wilson and Lynch were on, Bevell was able to find the right rhythm of play calls and the offense clicked.
At its best, Bevell’s unit set team records for rushing yards (2014) and total yards (2015), and he presided over four of the top eight scoring offenses in team history.
But Bevell had major problems in the red zone (some of them predicated on the poor line), he didn’t know how to use a Pro Bowl tight end (either Zach Miller or Jimmy Graham) and the Seahawks couldn’t execute a running back screen play to save their lives (or their third downs). And don’t get us started on those ridiculous receiver bubble screens Bevell loved. It all added up to very inconsistent performances — the Hawks were top 10 in yards just twice in the past six years.
It remains to be seen whether the Hawks also fire Tom Cable, who has drawn at least as much fan ire as Bevell. But Carroll obviously decided it was time for a new play caller.
Bevell’s replacement needs to use more at-the-snap motion and misdirection plays (see Houston’s offense with Deshaun Watson) and put together better first-down plays for Wilson.
Carroll reportedly is considering adding an OC who can run a more complicated offense than what Bevell put together. One name floated was Eagles QB coach John DeFilippo, who helped turn Carson Wentz into an All-Pro QB in his second season.
DeFilippo, 39, has been coaching since he left college and already has had other stints as QB coach with Oakland (2007-08 and 2012-14) and the Jets (2009). He was Cleveland’s OC in 2015 under Mike Pettine, who worked with the Seahawks this season.
There already is speculation that Carroll might seek a reunion with his former USC coordinator, Steve Sarkisian. But the former UW coach has had a shaky first year as Atlanta’s OC, and the Seahawks have already gone down the path of recovering alcoholics (Scot McCloughan). Carroll really needs to bring in a fresh mind.
The Seahawks reportedly have had another (unnamed) NFC QB coach in mind. One possibility is Seattle native Joe Lombardi (grandson of Vince). He has been Drew Brees’ QB coach in New Orleans for much of the past decade, with a short and unproductive stint as Detroit’s OC in between (2014-15). The Saints certainly run a complicated enough offense.
The Seahawks also might look at someone like Houston QB coach Sean Ryan, who could bring some of those exotic concepts we saw Watson and the Texans use against the Seahawks in 2017.
Whoever Carroll brings in, it seems he is ready to change up his offense and try to help Wilson a lot more than he and his staff have to this point.