There’s a point of view I’ve spent a lot of time considering over the last few months and increasingly, I agree with it.
Mike Florio is the source of the opinion. He believes when you draft a young quarterback it’s important to pair them with an offensive minded Head Coach. That way, if the offense succeeds, you won’t lose the coach (and the offense) to another team seeking to appoint the next ‘hot-shot’ offensive mind as their leader.
Look at the Atlanta Falcons for example. They were the dominant NFC team in 2016. Matt Ryan won the MVP, playing in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. When they dumped Seattle out of the playoffs, Pete Carroll said his team had run into ‘a buzzsaw’. They reached the Super Bowl and should’ve won it.
Shanahan was then appointed Head Coach of the 49ers, where they’ve since reached one Super Bowl and another NFC Championship. The Falcons, however, collapsed once their offensive coordinator departed. Ryan never repeated his MVP form. The thing that made Atlanta such a fearsome opponent — the offense — travelled to California with Shanahan.
Further to that, consistency is vitally important. Nothing unsettles a young quarterback like a regular churn of different coordinators and voices giving the instructions.
As the Seahawks prepare to inevitably draft a quarterback in 2023, I can’t help but wonder about the best environment for that player to walk into.
Is it to join a team with a leading offensive mind running the operation — creating a two-headed monster where the QB and Head Coach are completely aligned to drive the franchise forwards (ideally paired with a proven, experienced defensive coordinator)?
Or is it to join a team fronted by a defensive minded Head Coach with a controlling vision of the team, who appoints an offensive coordinator to do essentially what he wants (with, perhaps, some willingness to be open to new suggestions as long as it works alongside the grander philosophy)?
For a lot of people, it’s a no-brainer.
I have to say, I’m one of those people.
Especially when said Head Coach has appointed a collection of underwhelming offensive coordinators, none of which have gone on to earn Head Coaching jobs themselves despite having the opportunity to work with the likes of Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch and D.K. Metcalf over the years.
Yet the truth is Pete Carroll will probably be with this team until he decides he’s had enough. The timeframe of an eventual sale of the franchise aligns perfectly with his contract. It’s convenient for the placeholder owners to invest their trust in Carroll and John Schneider to see this through until a sale is completed.
Thus, when the likes of Mike McDaniel, Brian Daboll, Nathaniel Hackett, Kevin O’Connell, Doug Pederson and Josh McDaniels were appointed in the off-season — there was never any real possibility of them replacing Carroll and either working with Russell Wilson or leading the post-Wilson era of Seahawks football.
With the team floundering in pre-season and familiar concerns returning, it’s a comfortable fit to slip into a pair of envy shoes and wonder what the future could be like if this was a team being led by an offensive guru.
Of course, it’s also very easy to have your head turned by the next exciting offensive coordinator. We have to concede that aside from Pederson, none of the names above have Carroll’s track record as a leader of a football team.
I am starting to wonder a couple of things though.
Firstly, regardless of what happens in 2022, is it right to draft your next franchise quarterback without pairing them with an offensive minded Head Coach for the reasons noted at the start of the article?
Secondly, is Shane Waldron actually any good (if he is indeed still with the team next year)? And how do you properly judge him if you’re going to give him Geno Smith at quarterback — or ask him to lead a running attack that will likely face a stacked box every week because there’s no serious threat in the passing game?
Thirdly, after a really challenging 2021 season, is Carroll even going to be motivated to carry on in 2023 if this year goes as well as it’s threatening to? The Seahawks don’t get to have a 2011 season just because they plan to — ending with a bit of a flourish, developing talent and feeling close.
There’s every chance this will be a bad, bad season.
If that happens, it’s going to put a lot of pressure on Carroll. The team is already being booed in pre-season. People like me might be fully prepared to embrace a difficult year in order to set up the future. A lot of other fans are going to look at a situation where Carroll oversaw the departure of Wilson and then, possibly, led the Seahawks to the depths of the NFL, and say this isn’t acceptable.
This will be especially difficult for Carroll if Wilson’s Broncos have a great season.
Maybe he would carry on until the bitter end? Alternatively, perhaps ownership would also find itself under pressure to not be seen to be absent. After all — Jody Allen never speaks. We don’t know what the ‘plan’ is here. If she’d clarified this is a process, people would be more likely to accept it. Yet silence is often interpreted as complacency — fair or not.
A parting, mutually, might not be totally out of the question between team and Head Coach — forcing some action where ownership would be facing a huge decision they’d need to get right. Then again, I’m not sure Carroll would be placing his future in the hands of Geno Smith and Drew Lock if he felt like he wasn’t going to get a chance to draft a quarterback in 2023, whatever the results of 2022.
I appreciate this is all a bit premature and some will, not unfairly, accuse me of overreacting to pre-season. My counter, at least to the second part of that, is there are two types of pre-season reaction. When a good team underperforms, it’s easier to give them the benefit of the doubt. When a team led by Geno Smith underperforms — leaving its starters on the field for a half and not scoring a point on offense, tackles appallingly on defense and plays special teams like a bunch of random strangers — question marks are far more legitimate.
I fear for the Seahawks in 2022 and thus, I also fear for the impact on Carroll’s reputation in Seattle.
I admit I think a big call had to be made either way with Wilson and it was good that the franchise didn’t try and stumble on for another year. I also think a big opportunity remains to rebuild through this 2022 draft class and the 2023 group upcoming.
Yet I think Carroll’s recent statement that, basically, the ‘competition’ aspect of pre-season is now over and they’re resorting to getting everyone ready for week one is something of an admission of how far away they are from being a functioning team. Every effort is being put into not being embarrassed in primetime, week one, against Russell Wilson and Denver — because that would be incredibly damaging.
If that happens anyway — watch out. Things could get ugly quickly. Patience with Carroll could wear thin. The Wilson trade doesn’t buy you time like you had in 2010 to build a team. It actually creates pressure to show you can move forward — to show positive signs, if nothing else, minus the one player who kept you competitive for so many years.
I’m not completely writing the Seahawks off, though. I accept there’s a chance they can develop and grow, even if the wins don’t come. A 2011-style season is not out of the question and would be a positive result.
Yet I am not currently getting a 2011 vibe — aside from the comparable quarterback situations. People will suggest there’s maybe some recency bias involved in that opinion — but I do remember the 2011 off-season somewhat fondly. The lockout ending right before the season enabled the Seahawks to add three big names, at a cost, in free agency (something they’ve avoided doing again since then). This year there’s been very positive vibes around Tariq Woolen and Coby Bryant, plus the two young offensive tackles and Boye Mafe. I’m not sure it’s quite as comparable to the emergence of Doug Baldwin, Richard Sherman and K.J. Wright — plus the arrival of Brandon Browner.
In pre-season they were quite competitive in 2011. They won two games against the Chargers and Raiders and narrowly lost to Denver by three points. They also lost to the Vikings in a game that was 13-7 with two minutes to go.
Again, it’s pre-season. I appreciate trying to compare pre-seasons will induce some mocking comments. I also do think the Seahawks have felt messy, uncompetitive and shambolic in this 2022 pre-season so far. How else do you explain being 24-0 down to the rebuilding Bears, who benched most of their starters after the opening exchanges?
Right now I’d predict Seattle is a shoe-in for a top-10 pick. Which, in my opinion, wouldn’t be a bad thing at all. Yet I do have reservations about the best way to proceed if that comes to fruition. And I do wonder how fans will react to it if the season goes that way and Wilson’s Broncos excel.
Ownership, the front office and Pete Carroll can’t assume people will tolerate a bad product when the message consistently is to play down the nature of this rebuild or in the case of Jody Allen, not say anything in years other than one statement about your unwillingness to sell the team at the moment.
Essentially, this either can’t be as bad as many of us are starting to fear. Or there has to be the kind of honest, open communication with the fan base — aka, true leadership — that this franchise has sadly lacked for too long.
And if tough decisions need to be made, certain people should be prepared to make them.
Let’s hope it doesn’t have to come to that.
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