It was not a huge surprise that Pete Carroll fired Brian Schottenheimer on Tuesday. If you had parsed the coach’s words Monday, you heard him say he was going to meet with Schotty and evaluate what went wrong with Seattle’s dead-on-playoff-arrival offense. It sure sounded like there was a chance Carroll might decide to make a switch.
The Seahawks cited “philosophical differences,” which basically means Carroll didn’t think Schotty could fix an offense that melted down the stretch and hit its nadir with a pathetic effort in the 30-20 playoff loss to the beat-up Rams.
This was the best move for Carroll after Schotty helped cost the team two quick playoff outs in three years and the offense deteriorated in 2020 like it did in 2017, when Carroll fired Darrell Bevell and Tom Cable after missing the playoffs.
Carroll said Monday he wants to run the ball more effectively so Russell Wilson can hit more plays downfield – something that was controlled in the second half of the season by good defenses because Schotty and Wilson didn’t adjust to Cover 2 schemes.
“We have to dictate what’s going on with the people that we’re playing, and that’s one of the ways to do that,” Carroll said. “We need to be able to knock those guys into the scheme that we want to throw at. … Frankly, I’d like to not play against two-deep (safety) looks all season long next year.”
So where do they look for a replacement? It depends on what Carroll really wants. When he hired Schottenheimer in 2018, he wanted to return to a strong running attack and not change the offensive language much. So Schotty learned the system Wilson knew, added some of his own concepts and then focused on leading the NFL in rushing (and then stubbornly stuck to the run in the playoff loss in Dallas that year).
Unfortunately, Schotty went from one extreme to the other. He progressively moved toward the pass the past two years, and he seemed to have found the perfect approach early in 2020 as the Hawks were lighting up scoreboards. But he then totally abandoned the run at midseason while Chris Carson and Carlos Hyde were both injured; Wilson started turning the ball over and the Hawks never found the proper balance after that.
Carroll clearly decided he couldn’t trust Schottenheimer to strike the balance he wants, so he is now looking for another OC to do it.
An early candidate reportedly is Shane Steichen, who was Anthony Lynn’s OC for 2020 and part of 2019 with the L.A. Chargers. The Chargers were one of the worst rushing teams in the NFL in 2020, but Steichen (a former QB coach) helped rookie QB Justin Herbert to a great first year. Maybe Carroll’s former DC Gus Bradley (the Chargers’ DC last season) gave Steichen a ringing endorsement.
Pep Hamilton, who was Herbert’s QB coach with the Chargers, reportedly could be in consideration, too.
Another coach who reportedly may be considered is Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott.