There’s still a lot of analysis going on about what went wrong with Seattle’s offense, which bottomed out against the Rams’ stellar defense in the playoffs.
The bottom line is Russell Wilson’s effectiveness faded in the second half of the season, and Brian Schottenheimer was not creative enough as they faced a number of good defenses. Some don’t think Schotty should have been fired, but he could not right the ship in the second half and his unit ended up costing Seattle a playoff win in the first round for the second time in three years.
One of the big keys to an OC is feeling his QB’s performance and adjusting to help him when things are off kilter. Schotty was not very good at making adjustments during games, had too many predictable play-calling patterns (e.g., running on every second-and-10) and simply did not use his personnel to best effect. So, yeah, Pete Carroll was justified in firing him.
Wilson did not agree with that move; but, since it was made, he wants a big say in the hiring of the new OC. He deserves to have it, going into his 10th year and looking to get back over the hump in the playoffs, where Wilson and company have flamed out short of the NFC title game five times since the Super Bowl XLIX season.
Carroll wants an OC who will run more, ostensibly to open up the deep passing game, and Wilson wants a creative guy who will run a dynamic offense. Those things appear at odds and have some worried that a divorce is brewing (whether Wilson is traded — he controls that via a no-trade clause, remember — or he leaves when his contract is up in 2024).
We’ve heard that overreaction before, and we’re not falling for it this time either. Let’s just focus on fixing the problem that derailed an awesome offense last season. It starts with finding an OC who can bridge the gap and marry the idea of being aggressive and dynamic with being powerful and forceful. If you think about it, Carroll and Wilson want the same thing: To dictate to defenses, score points and win. So a good OC will be able to placate both.
Of course, maybe the first thing they should look for is someone who can scheme to beat the Rams, who are always a tough matchup for Wilson and proved to be especially so in 2020 as Schotty failed to help Wilson once the QB stopped hitting the big plays.
Wilson has been sacked 394 times in his 144 career games (not counting playoffs). About 18 percent of those sacks (72) have been by the Rams, who account for 12.5 percent of Wilson’s games. (The other division foes, the Cardinals and 49ers, have sacked him 59 and 47 times.)
Wilson is 8-10 against the Rams in the regular season, one of only three teams he has a losing mark against (he’s 0-2 against the Chargers and 1-2 against the Saints). Most of those losses fell on Wilson and the line struggling against the Rams’ really good fronts over the past decade (whether led by Robert Quinn and Chris Long or Aaron Donald and Leonard Floyd).
The way to keep the pass rush at bay is to throw quickly or run the ball. Wilson rarely got rid of the ball quickly in the playoff loss (or many other games), and the Hawks didn’t run the ball inside enough despite some good success by Chris Carson between the tackles. That could have given Wilson relief from the four-man rush that turned him into a tentative and lost QB who would not pull the trigger even when Schotty made good calls.
Wilson is dead on about the qualities the new OC needs to have: Be “a tremendous teacher” who is creative and “knows how to find every guy’s strength.”
“We have to do everything extremely well,” Wilson said. “We have to be able to be able to throw it down the field. We have to have great concepts in the middle of the field and to get the ball out quick. We want our screen game to be great. We want to be able to run the ball extremely well. We want to be up-tempo and be able to change the pace. We’re capable of all of that. I want to do it all well.”
Gus Bradley certainly seems to have Pete Carroll’s ear in the OC search, with the Chargers’ top offensive coaches all being mentioned as prominent in Seattle’s quest. Anthony Lynn, just fired as coach, reportedly has talked to Carroll, and his OC Shane Steichen and QB coach Pep Hamilton also have been tied to Seattle.
A bunch of other names have been tossed around in speculation: Green Bay OC Nathaniel Hackett, Cleveland OC Alex Van Pelt, Indy OC Nick Sirianni, Rams passing coordinator Shane Waldron, Las Vegas assistant John Morton, Tennessee QB coach Pat O’Hara.
If we’re looking for a guy who knows how to beat the Rams, though, how about Ken Dorsey? Buffalo’s QB coach has helped Josh Allen turn into an elite QB in 2020 as the Bills are poised to make a possible Super Bowl run. Brian Daboll, the Bills’ OC, is being considered for head-coaching opportunities (e.g., the Chargers) after his offense put up 501 points, second in the NFL.
The Bills beat the Rams 35-32 in Week 3, so Dorsey knows how to do it. Allen also credits Dorsey with helping him take the big step this season. Dorsey has not called plays in the NFL, but it’s a natural next step for a guy who helped Cam Newton win NFL MVP in Carolina and has gotten Allen to play at an elite level after many questioned whether the former first-rounder would ever overcome his flaws and inconsistency.
It would be nice to have an OC who used tight ends well. Tight end has been a position where John Schneider and Carroll’s coaches have not been in sync. Schneider has always overpaid for guys who were not used well: Zach Miller and Jimmy Graham on previous teams, Greg Olsen and Jacob Hollister (combined $10 million) on this one. Maybe the 6-7 Colby Parkinson can help in the middle of the field in 2021.
Josh Gordon is suspended indefinitely again, so Seattle fans who love the guy probably should chill their expectations that he ever plays again. That said, don’t be surprised if Carroll and John Schneider stick with him. He’s still only 29 and apparently is determined to come back yet again.
Early draft thoughts: Schneider will definitely find a way to end up with more than four picks. … Top roster holes (for now) are CB, RB, C, OG. OT, DT, TE, WR are future needs. … A really good weapon in second round could be Miami TE Brevin Jordan, a 6-3, 245-pounder who has the open-field ability of a wide receiver. Could be a great TE/WR combo weapon for Wilson and major upgrade. … Interior pass rusher who also could be a good option on Day 2: West Virginia’s Darius Stills. Only 6-1, 290, but really quick and disruptive. The Hawks may not have Jarran Reed for much longer, so Stills would be a good addition to the pass rush. … Edge rusher in the middle rounds to watch: UAB’s Jordan Smith.