What to expect of the coaching changes?
Unless you’re living under a rock, it’s impossible not to have noticed the purge of coaching staff changes. In total, Seattle has fired eight coaches, and as of today, have hired five.
Here’s the firings –
Darrell Bevell – Offensive Coordinator
Tom Cable – Offensive Line Coach/Assistant Head Coach/Run-Game Coordinator
Kris Richard – Defensive Coordinator
Michael Barrow – Linebackers Coach
Ricky Manning Jr – Assistant Defensive Backs Coach
Here’s the hiring’s –
Brian Schottenheimer – Offensive Coordinator
Ken Norton Jr – Defensive Coordinator
Mike Solari – Offensive Line Coach
The others aren’t ‘official’ as yet so I will update that as and when the team makes announcement.
But what do these changes actually mean for the team going forwards? A lot of people have been calling for Tom Cable and Darrell Bevell’s firing for a few years now, but will it be a case of ‘careful what you wish for’? I don’t believe so, no. I think the roster shake up is exactly what is needed for this team, these new coaches will bring in new ideas to an already incredibly successful franchise. The most important factor with these hires, however, is their ‘tough guy’ approach. These coaches are going to be in the players ears when they make mistakes and not stroking their ego’s too much when they get it right. Have you ever seen Darrell Bevell get in the face of his quarterback or wide receiver? I’ve seen it the other way around, though…
Firstly, let’s look at the move at offensive coordinator.
I will be the first to say I wasn’t the biggest advocate for firing Bevell however I’m far from against it. It would be unjust to call the 2017 Seahawks offense bad, Russ lead the league with 34 touchdowns, they finished 9th in total yards and a very respectable 61.3% completion percentage. Their problems, however, lied in their consistency (or lack thereof!). The slow starts, the predictable first half play calling, the misuse of matchups, I could go on…
A new sheriff is in town, however. His name is Brian Schottenheimer, most recently the QB coach for the Colts. He has also run the offense of the Rams (2012–2014) and Jets (2006-2011). It’s fair to say he hasn’t had incredible success in his coordinator roles however, most importantly, he hasn’t had the talent surrounding him that he’ll get here in Seattle. Brian’s playbook will be vastly different to what we’re used to in Seattle. He has a real emphasis on the run game and uses a lot of hi/lo routes as well as check downs for the quarterback should he get into a spot of bother with the defensive lineman. He also likes to use personnel of 3 TE’s and 2 RB’s, something that Seattle has built heavily around for the 2018 season adding the likes of Ed Dickson, Will Dissly and Rashaad Penny to compliment the pieces already in place.
Below you can see his Swap Boot play, utilizing 3 TE’s and 2 RB’s
I really like the hire and with the god-awful run game of last season, Seattle will surely be invested in getting it going again, hopefully with ample success.
Next up let’s look at the second hiring, and the one I’m most excited about. Mike Solari coming in as the offensive line coach. Tom Cable had opportunity after opportunity and resource after resource to put a line together that could protect our star quarterback and open lanes for our running backs, but it never happened. For the most part, Seattle had three 1st round picks (Duane Brown, Luke Joeckel & Germain Ifedi) and two 2nd round picks (Ethan Pocic and Justin Britt). Looking at that draft investment it’s fair to argue this line should have potentially been top 5 in the league, instead, they finished the season ranked 22nd, and that was a big improvement once Duane Brown came on board from the Texans to stabilize the left tackle position. It simply wasn’t good enough.
Mike Solari is of similar age to Pete Carroll and has been coaching offensive lines since 1976. He assembled a very solid line for division rivals’ 49ers from 2010-2014 and most recently for the New York Giants from 2016-2017. The rumour is Mike has free reign to adjust the line however he sees fit with one exception, Duane Brown stays at LT. That’s fair given what Seattle sacrificed to get him. Either way, there’s no reason to suggest Brown would have been involved in any reshuffling, anyway. He was the cornerstone of the line and by far the best player of the five. What will Solari do with Ifedi? Keep him at right tackle? Move him to guard? It’s too early to make a prediction as we will have a much better idea once camp rolls around. I’m confident in this hire, very confident.
Ken played linebacker for the 49ers and Cowboys between 1988 and 2000 and transitioned to coaching, firstly college before moving into the NFL as a linebacker coach for the Seahawks from 2010 to 2014. He was then offered to run the defense for the Raiders, which lasted until the end of the 2017 season where he was brought back, once again, to Seattle to run their defense.
Any Seattle fan knows this defense is truly run by Pete Carroll so Ken wasn’t brought in for his defensive mind, he was brought in to be a tone setter for the players. You’d be a bigger man than most to get in his face and talk back to him, that’s for sure. Plus, the players absolutely idolize him, which helps. Playing for someone that you truly like shouldn’t really matter when you’re a professional, but it does. Norton is going to make these players accountable, and that is a big thing. Nobody will want Ken in their ear screaming, something that could often be heard over the blaring music from the DJ at training camp. Makes me smile just thinking about it.
I think Seattle has assembled a fantastic new coaching tree to work under Pete Carroll. New faces, new ideas and new approaches are the order of the day. It’s hard not to feel authentic and justifiable optimism for what lies ahead.
As always, Go Hawks!
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