clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Pete Carroll's improbable first 4 seasons: Inherited empty roster, Seahawks were 30th in DVOA in 2010

From Belichick to Harbaugh, no recent Super Bowl-winning coach had as little to work with when he took over as Carroll did. But here we are, and we're ready for more.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

I don't imagine that Pete Carroll had many conversations with members of the 2009 Seattle Seahawks when he was hired the following year. If he did, he probably didn't talk too much about winning a Super Bowl "with them" because that would just be cruel. The 2009 Seahawks were a terrible, awful team, and any talks the Carroll and John Schneider had about "bringing a championship to Seattle" probably didn't involve many names that were on the roster at the time. All due respect to one of my favorite people of all-time, not even Matt Hasselbeck could have been a part of "the plan."

But the path and pace that Carroll and Schneider took to rebuilding one of the worst teams in the NFL into a Super Bowl champion is rather unbelievable.

Year Mora: 5-11, 29th in DVOA

Year One: 7-9, 30th in DVOA

Year Two: 7-9, 19th in DVOA

Year Three: 11-5, 1st in DVOA

Year Four: 13-3, 1st in DVOA, Super Bowl championship, The Great Seattle Pants Fire of 2014

Other coaches have "turned teams around quickly" but how many of them cleared out the entire roster first? The 2014 Seahawks won a Super Bowl despite the roster only having four players that were drafted by them in the first round: Russell Okung, Earl Thomas, Bruce Irvin, and James Carpenter. Carroll won a Super Bowl despite the fact that the only players on the team that were drafted by Mike Holmgren or Jim Mora were Max Unger (2nd), Brandon Mebane (3rd), and Red Bryant (4th).

Make some comparisons to other modern Super Bowl-winners and you'll see how unusual those kind of facts are.

In 2000, Bill Belichick inherited a team with Drew Bledsoe, Ty Law, Damien Woody, Tebucky Jones, Willie McGinest, Terry Glenn, Tedy Bruschi, Lawyer Milloy, Kevin Faulk, Ted Johnson, Troy Brown; all of whom were a part of at least the Patriots first championship.

In 2002, Jon Gruden inherited a team with Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, Ronde Barber, John Lynch, Simeon Rice, Brad Johnson, Keyshawn Johnson, Anthony McFarland, Brian Kelly, Dexter Jackson and won the Super Bowl with Tony Dungy's Bucs.

In 2006, Dungy himself won a Super Bowl with the Indianapolis Colts. He took over that team in 2002, when they already had Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison, Tarik Glenn, Reggie Wayne, and Jeff Saturday; those five players also happened to be the only five players to make the Pro Bowl in the year that Indy won the Super Bowl.

Even Tom Coughlin inherited a Giants team that already had Amani Toomer, Michael Strahan, Jeremy Shockey, Osi Umenyiora, David Diehl, and in Coughlin's first season he was awarded with the opportunity to draft either Philip Rivers or trade him for Eli Manning. While I wouldn't complain about Carroll and Schneider getting to draft Russell Okung and Earl Thomas with their first draft, they had to get creative to find their franchise quarterback.

Of course, Mike Tomlin inherited most of Bill Cowher's team and won a Super Bowl in his second season. Like coaches before him in San Francisco and Dallas, Tomlin was given the rare opportunity to take over a championship team from a head coach that was just tired of the daily grind, rather than taking over a mess of a franchise like Seattle was in 2010.

Sean Payton may be a lot closer to matching what Carroll and Schneider have done. He took over the Saints in 2006, won a Super Bowl in year four, mostly with players that were brought on under his guidance. Though I don't think anyone would mind signing one of the best free agent quarterbacks of recent memory before he had ever coached a game.

Mike McCarthy took over the Packers in 2006, Aaron Rodgers was drafted in 2005. They had also made the playoffs in ever season from 2001 to 2004. Despite the Seahawks mid-2000s success, they were 4-12 in Holmgren's final season, so those days were long gone.

Finally, John Harbaugh took over a team with Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Haloti Ngata, and Terrell Suggs.

Again, Carroll won a Super Bowl after inheriting Mebane, Bryant, Unger, and Jon Ryan. Sorry that I didn't mention Jon Ryan yet, how could I forget the most important player on the team?

As far as quick turnarounds go, take a look at how far up the Seahawks have jumped from '09 to today. Better yet, take a look at the the teams that haven't improved.

Seattle was 29th in DVOA in 2009 and the rest of the bottom 12 looks like this (in reverse order from 32 to 21):

Lions, Rams, Raiders, Chiefs, Buccaneers, Browns, Bears, Bills, Jaguars, Redskins, Titans.

Doesn't look too much different than May's draft order, does it? Well, they were also Seattle's "homies" in 2009, but only one of those teams has emerged in the last four years as a real contender. I know that the NFL has "parity" but it's not as drastic as you may think.

Those 11 teams have won a combined ONE playoff game (Bears, over Seahawks in 2010) in the last four years. The Seahawks won a playoff game in Carroll's first season, then another in his third, then three more in his fourth.

Four years before Harbaugh won a Super Bowl in Baltimore, the Ravens were second in DVOA. (And then first in DVOA in 2009.) Four years before Tom Coughlin won his second Super Bowl, he was winning his first Super Bowl. Four years before McCarthy won the Super Bowl, the Packers were 19th in DVOA, but by the next year they were fifth in DVOA.

Again, Seattle's DVOA actually dipped to 30th in Carroll's first season. He had to jump from 30th to 19th to 1st and then become one of the only teams to go back-to-back as first in DVOA.

I couldn't even graduate college in four years, and I went to Wazzu! (boom! suck it, WSU! jk love you.)

Though he took over a team that was mostly talentless, in less than he a year he was able to add Okung, Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Golden Tate, Walter Thurmond, Chris Clemons, and Marshawn Lynch. That's gonna help anyone get better immediately, if you can recognize the talent and put those players in the right place to succeed.

When Carroll was hired back in 2010, I liked the move only because it was a hell of a lot more interesting than promoting Mora, or trying to resurrect the career of some former head coach like Norv Turner (to me, Carroll was only "the guy at USC") but I didn't necessarily know if I believed that Carroll would turn it around. I could only hope that it would be better than the previous two years. I was quickly starting to believe in "Carroll the coach" after watching how he interacted with his players and how he exuded enthusiasm on the sidelines. I didn't necessarily know if he could win, but I know that I wanted him to win.

Because he wanted it for us, too.

I can't believe what Carroll has done already, and I can't wait to see what's next.

Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! (Wait, even more than that! Even more than that! Even more than that!)