The Seahawks have officially named Kris Richard their new Defensive Coordinator, replacing Dan Quinn, who accepted the Head Coaching job in Atlanta. Seattle also announced that former NFL linebacker and Miami Hurricanes assistant Micheal Barrow will replace Ken Norton as Seattle's linebackers coach, former Seahawk and USC Trojan Lofa Tatupu will be an assistant linebackers coach, and Pete's son Brennan Carroll, formerly a wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator with Miami, will become an assistant offensive line coach.
"Kris has done an extraordinary job. He's an excellent secondary coach," Pete Carroll told the media during Super Bowl week. "Everything you can look at to evaluate that jumps out at you, the way these guys have achieved, the camaraderie that they have, the high level of play that they've maintained for a long time, the stats. ... Kris does a fantastic job. We rely on him heavily."
The hiring makes sense from an identity point of view. Richard has been instrumental in the development of the Legion of Boom, helping Earl Thomas become arguably the best safety in the game, helping turn mid-round picks in Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor into All Pros, and helping Byron Maxwell grow into probably the top corner in the free agent market this season.
Carroll relies on Richard to proselytize his brand of play to the Seahawks secondary, and is a former USC player and a former USC coach, so he knows the system inside and out. He is highly respected by his players and works in tandem with Passing Game Coordinator Rocky Seto to get Seattle's corners programmed to how they want them to play.
As Carroll said last year,
Kris Richard and Rocky Seto have done a fantastic job of training [our defensive backs]. They'rereally, really, strict, and if you guys could appreciate it, they (the corners) all look the same, somewhat.
The way they step, the way they challenge at the line of scrimmage, the way they finish in the things that we teach. This is a long, long process, to get these guys to where they are. But, now they're in the system, and it doesn't matter who steps in and plays. It's impressive.
So, it's a process, but it's kind of a systems thing for us.
Despite what you'd think about NFL-level coaching, there are varying degrees of emphasis put on player development and the teaching of fundamentals, and I think one of Richard's strengths is his attention to detail in fundamental technique (which is similar to Dan Quinn).
Earl Thomas has long been a proponent for Richard, as he told the Seattle times back in 2012.
"He takes us through everything, I mean everything, we might encounter on Sundays," Thomas said. "We do a lot of walk-throughs, a lot of board work. He and coach Seto have done a great job of explaining defenses. There's no gray area. Everybody's on the same page and that breeds confidence in the DB room."
Richard Sherman echoed that.
"He makes sure we're totally prepared," Sherman said. "A lot of coaches show you film and do all this. But he shows you the things that you need to see specifically and that really helps. I have a high football I.Q. I watch a lot of film. I know tendencies. I know route combinations and things like that, but it definitely helps for guys to learn all those little things, like alerts for alignments and assignments, down and distance."
"Kris Richard is like the glue," said Sherman, "He's the cohesion that keeps everybody together, everybody on their toes. He's always prepared. He does a great job of game-planning and making sure we are completely aware of everything a team likes to do."
Sounds exactly like a defensive coordinator.
"Kris teaches us," Kam Chancellor added. "He doesn't want us to just be average. He wants us to be great, to be different. The fact that guys made the Pro Bowl is a tribute to him and the things he's taught us. We just take that to the field and play our games."
So, it's a departure from the defensive-line minded Dan Quinn to a secondary-play minded Richard, but with Travis Jones sticking around for next season, there's a pretty clear succession plan for the leadership there. I think, for a team whose identity on defense starts with the Legion of Boom, it makes sense that their coach would ascend to the coordinator spot.
As for the rest of the hires....
Per Seattle's release on the new additions to their staff, "Barrow was a second-round choice (47th overall) by the Houston Oilers in the 1993 NFL Draft and played 13 seasons with Houston (1993-96), Carolina (1997-99), the N.Y. Giants (2000-03), Washington (2004) and Dallas (2005). He recorded 1,125 tackles (792 solo), 43.0 sacks and two interceptions in 173 games with 153 starts. He advanced to Super Bowl XXXV with the N.Y. Giants after the 2000 season. Following his playing career in 2005, Barrow was the assistant head coach and defensive coordinator at Homestead High School, his alma mater, and served the last eight seasons as linebackers coach at his alma mater, the University of Miami, where he played from 1989-92. In 1992, he earned All-America honors, was the Butkus Award runner-up and finished seventh in Heisman Trophy voting. He was also the Big East Defensive Player of the Year and finished his career as the third-leading tackler in school history." From what I've seen, he's highly respected and was only out of football last season because he was caring for his mother, who was ill.
We all know Lofa Tatupu, whose very promising career was cut short by a series of knee injuries. Tatupu is a fan favorite and should bring a nice boost of knowledge and energy to the group with the departure of Norton. Seattle's two linebackers coaches both played in the league and have a ton of experience between them -- the transition should go smoothly, I'd imagine.
Lofa is going to be a great coach.— Matthew Hasselbeck (@Hasselbeck) February 10, 2015
As I wrote earlier, Brennan Carroll was previously on his father's USC staff, first as an offensive assistant and then as the tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator. He left for Miami four years ago, where he took over as tight ends coach, then moved to become the receivers coach the last two years. He's built a strong reputation as both a coach and a recruiter, and ESPN's Jeremy Crabtree recently ranked Carroll first in the nation as a recruiter for his 2016 class.
1. Brennan Carroll
School: Miami (Fla.)
As the recruiting coordinator, Carroll is actively involved with every prospect who ends up with the Canes, and Miami has jumped out of the gate quickly with 12 pledges and seven ESPN Junior 300 commits. He has done some quality work on his own, however, as the primary recruiter for top recruits like inside linebacker Shaquille Quarterman and receiver Ahmmon Richards.
Brennan will join his brother Nate on Pete's staff, and should bring a nice perspective on some Miami draft prospects to the table. A couple to keep an eye are, of course, in groups that Carroll coached at Miami. WR Phillip Dorsett is a favorite of Zach Whitman with some similarities to Arizona's John Brown, and TE Clive Walford has gained some hype as an all around talent at the position. Brennan should also have some unique information on RB Duke Johnson, OT Ereck Flowers, and a few other draft-eligible Hurricanes.