The turnabout was a little surprising for the loyal-to-a-fault coach, but Pete Carroll’s actions made it clear he is serious about fixing an offense that has regressed from good enough to good for nothing over the past three years.
In one sweep of the ax, Carroll cut ties with longtime assistants Darrell Bevell and Tom Cable — and now Carroll will look for replacements who can be true to his three-star philosophy of running the ball, protecting the ball and making big plays.
Carroll obviously has replacements in mind, and the top guy for the offensive coordinator position appears to be John DeFilippo, the Eagles’ QB coach who helped turn Carson Wentz into an All-Pro 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.
DeFilippo still might be a candidate for Arizona’s top coaching gig — we will find out more after this weekend’s playoff games (the Eagles face the Falcons).
Also reportedly on Seattle’s OC list are Brian Schottenheimer (Indy’s QB coach), Marc Trestman (Toronto’s coach), Mike Shula (fired by Carolina), Mike McCoy (fired by Denver), Alex Van Pelt and Edgar Bennett (both fired by Green Bay) and Jedd Fisch (UCLA’s OC). It’s an underwhelming roster, for sure.
Carroll needs to hire an OC who will use more pre-snap motion and misdirection, who will use Russell Wilson on bootlegs paired with creative routes, who will figure out how to run RB screens properly and who will make Wilson throw the ball over the middle more frequently. And, above all, this new OC has to value first-down success, know how to score in the red zone and press to score early and often.
With QB coach Carl Smith expected to be reassigned or let go, Wilson apparently will need a new position coach — someone who pushes him more. Most of the above OC candidates could double in that capacity, although DeFilippo looks like the best man for the job.
The new offensive line coach, meanwhile, should bring a simple blocking scheme that adapts to the player talent; he should put linemen in one spot and let them get comfortable there; and he should not waste time with conversion projects, as Cable felt he had to do.
John Schneider has invested highly in the line the past two years — extending former second-rounder Justin Britt, trading for former first-rounder Duane Brown and using first-, second- and third-round picks on Germain Ifedi, Ethan Pocic and Rees Odhiambo. Carroll absolutely must find a coach who can get that crew to play to its pedigree.
Perhaps Carroll should look into bringing a good college OL coach in — someone who understands the limitations of today’s linemen and knows how to structure a simple scheme around his talent.
Some of the top college line coaches Carroll could check into: Sam Pittman (Georgia), Bill Bedenbaugh (Oklahoma), Robbie Caldwell (Clemson), Rick Trickett (FSU), Tim Drevno (Michigan and formerly 49ers), Mike Bloesch (Tulsa), Neil Callaway (USC) and Herb Hand (Auburn). Carroll also could look at assistant O-line coaches in the NFL; the Rams’ Andy Dickerson and the Bills’ Andrew Dees could be options.
This all assumes, of course, that Carroll is not just going to let assistant OL coaches Pat Ruel and Brennan Carroll (one of Pete’s two sons on staff) take over the line.
Pete Carroll seems determined to remake his offensive staff, though, so we should see a couple of new coaches arrive in the next week — unless, of course, DeFilippo’s Eagles make a deep playoff run.
“We are challenged by change,” Carroll said Wednesday, “but excited to attack the future with great purpose.”