It did not take long after the Seahawks’ playoff loss to the Packers for the craziness of the offseason begin. Demands of “Fire Pete Carroll” have emerged in the first few days of the Seahawks offseason.
It is not just from Twitter users with egg photos in their profile, but prominent Seahawks writers are suggesting that it is time for the team to move on from one of the greatest coaches in franchise history. At the risk of oversimplifying, the basis of the argument is that Carroll is holding back Russell Wilson during the prime of his career, mostly due to an antiquated offense.
The argument screams of recency bias given it was Carroll who first gave Wilson an NFL opportunity. It was Carroll and Seahawks GM John Schneider who were willing to overlook Wilson’s height at a time when other teams were not and selected him in the drat.
Carroll then allowed Wilson to not only compete but win the starting job prior to Week 1 of his rookie season. The Seahawks had just signed Matt Flynn to a sizable contract believing he would be their quarterback of the future.
This fact should not grant Carroll some sort of lifetime immunity with the Seahawks, but it is to say that Wilson’s thriving is not just because of his own talent. Wilson instantly connected with Carroll, and it is no coincidence that both have thrived since his arrival in Seattle.
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Firing Carroll Is Foolish, But the Seahawks Need the Offense to Graduate
To be clear, I am part of the #LetRussCook group and the current offensive system does appear to hold Wilson back. I was critical of Carroll’s decision to punt on fourth down late in the fourth quarter against the Packers, as well as the conservative gameplan that contributed to the Seahawks digging themselves a massive deficit in Green Bay.
Carroll has consistently emphasized that he wants the franchise to be a run-first team. Marshawn Lynch provided the team with an emotional boost, and Travis Homer contributed down the stretch. The injuries that decimated the running back room combined with the offensive line made it nearly impossible for the Seahawks to run the ball, even against a suspect Packers rushing defense. It became clear that Wilson was the Seahawks’ best runner in the postseason.
Carroll and his staff were slow to adapt, and a more aggressive game plan would have given the Seahawks a better opportunity to advance to the NFC Championship. There are still no guarantees that this would have been enough.
One thing that is not discussed often is how Carroll is able to get virtually every player on the Seahawks roster to play above their projected level. The Seahawks were able to overcome a number of late injuries to be a few plays away from being one of the final four NFL teams remaining. As Carroll often emphasizes, there is still room for improvement and self-evaluation during the offseason.
Pete Carroll’s Former Assistant Ed Orgeron Recently Built the Perfect Model for Offensive Change at LSU
In the long-form version of “Tell the Truth” Monday, it is hard to come away with a decision other than it is time to have a more dynamic offense that utilizes Wilson’s strengths for all four quarters. Not just when the Seahawks need a miraculous comeback after trailing by double digits.
While I disagree with the final outcome, The Athletic’s Ben Baldwin writes a compelling case for Carroll’s in-game flaws. I don’t think we will ever see the Seahawks abandon the run, it is not unthinkable to suggest the Seahawks could lean more on the passing game. We saw this during the first half of the season when Wilson was a leading MVP candidate.
Carroll does have his flaws, but so does every other NFL coach. Rams head coach Sean McVay was playing in a Super Bowl last season as the NFL’s wiz kid, yet Los Angeles failed to reach the playoffs in 2019. Even the brightest offensive minds can be figured out after an NFL offseason where opponents can dissect film to react to tendencies. Thinking that replacing Carroll with a more aggressive offensive coach does not guarantee more postseason success.
Seahawks fans should be asking for the best of both worlds. Carroll is absolutely the right coach for the Seahawks, but the offense needs to graduate over the offseason to account for one of the best NFL quarterbacks.
Carroll needs to look no further than one of his former USC assistants Ed Orgeron who did this exact thing last offseason at LSU. Orgeron’s teams were defined by their toughness, but this summer he hired Joe Brady away from the Saints to implement an entirely new offense. It resulted in Joe Burrow having a record-breaking season and, more importantly, LSU winning a national title.
You’re either competing or you’re not, as the Seahawks coach often likes to say. We may not have even seen the best of Wilson, but the same can be said for Carroll with a few changes.