After a steady three-year slide that ended with Seattle out of the playoffs this season, Pete Carroll apparently is ready to re-forge control of his team and re-establish his principles.
Carroll recently said he plans to make his team more disciplined while rejuvenating a once-strong running game that is the identity of the offense.
To do that, he needed some new voices in his coaching staff. So he reportedly is bringing in some familiar enforcers who will command players’ attention and be loyal to Carroll’s approach to winning.
Some think the recycling of Ken Norton Jr. and Mike Solari back to Seattle, along with the seemingly ho-hum addition of OC Brian Schottenheimer, are signs that Carroll doesn’t want any fresh ideas. Some think the 66-year-old coach knows he is approaching the end, with two years left on his contract, and is digging in with ass-kissing yes men. And some think he will bury himself with these guys.
Obviously, those are some negative thinkers.
Here’s our take: Changes were past due, and it won’t get any worse than it was in 2017. Carroll knows how he wants things done and is bringing in the people he thinks will do them better than the longtime assistants he just replaced.
Norton is Seattle’s fiery and inspirational former linebackers coach, a guy who seemingly was more respected by defenders than Kris Richard and who we thought was going to get the DC job in 2015.
Some think Norton won’t be as involved calling the defense. To that, we say: Who cares? It is Carroll’s defense anyway. Always has been, always will be. If he wants more say, he should have it. And the defense will be better for it.
Carroll doesn’t really know offense, of course — that has become clear over the years. All he knows is he wants to run the ball and not turn it over. But he finally figured out his offense was broken with Darrell Bevell and Tom Cable.
“We have a real formula of how we win and we have been unable the last two years to incorporate a major aspect of that, and it’s running the football the way we want to run it,” Carroll said after the season. “We have been committed to that from the start, but unfortunately we have not been able to recapture it the way that we have in years past.”
Clearly, Carroll wants to run the ball again — and that is the driving force behind the offensive changes. Beyond that, Carroll is thought to be making these moves because Bevell’s play calling did not help Wilson and the OC didn’t criticize the QB enough, and Cable was too easy on his linemen, with a scheme that did not accentuate their strengths.
The new offensive coaches figure to be more demanding and critical. Both Schottenheimer and Solari have histories of getting the most out of talented players.
Schottenheimer is a more creative version of Bevell. He runs the same kind of balanced offense that stresses power running and deep passing, but he incorporates motion and might actually put together a good screen game.
Schottenheimer helped Drew Brees become a Pro Bowl QB and is fresh off a two-year stint helping improve Colts QBs Andrew Luck and Jacoby Brissett. And, with his most talented QB yet, Schottenheimer should have his best chance to succeed.
Solari worked with Carroll in San Francisco in 1995-96 and was Cable’s predecessor in Seattle, and Carroll wanted to keep him as tight ends coach when Carroll arrived in 2010.
Solari seems more aggressive and demanding than Cable. He has used a power zone concept that features aggressive guards and a mobile center. He has fostered some great young lines in Kansas City and San Francisco, which bodes well for 2016 first-rounder Germain Ifedi and 2017 second-rounder Ethan Pocic. It will be interesting to see where he puts both of those guys.
Seattle’s offense was a mess by the end of 2017, and Carroll wisely made moves to try to fix it. These coaches clearly were not brought in to maintain the status quo or to kiss his ass. They were brought in to do what Bevell and Cable could not, to fulfill “the formula of how we win.”
A year from now, we’ll know whether Carroll made the right moves.