With the Seattle Seahawks taking the day off from training camp Wednesday, I took a moment to ponder the success the Hawks have had under Pete Carroll, and began to wonder to what the succession plan is for the day when Pete decides to call it a career. Now, I’m not saying that Pete is in any way ready to walk away from the game, but he is not only the oldest coach in the NFL, he is rapidly approaching being the longest tenured coach in franchise history. Entering his eighth season in charge, only Chuck Knox (9 seasons) and Mike Holmgren (10 seasons) have served at the helm longer for Seattle.
In spite of the fact that his tenure is shorter than either Knox or Holmgren, he is one division title short of tying Holmgren for most division titles as a coach, and as we all know, he has more Super Bowl appearances and Lombardi trophies to his credit than all other Seahawks coaches in franchise history combined. A ten win season this year would also tie him with Knox for second in franchise history for victories as a coach, and a perfect 16-0 regular season would put him in a tie with Holmgren for regular season victories with 86. However, including postseason victories in the count as well, Carroll could well pass both Knox (83: 80 regular season and three postseason wins) and Holmgren (90: 86 regular season and four postseason wins) this year. Carroll has nine postseason victories on top of his 70 regular season wins put him at 79 combined wins as head coach, so Carroll needs only 12 wins this season to become the all time leader among Seahawks head coaches in wins. How fitting is that?
In any case, returning to the question at hand regarding the succession plans should Carroll decide to move on at some point, I decided first to look at in house candidates. The last time the Seahawks replaced a long time coach, Allen looked no further than the team’s assistants, and choosing Holmgren’s hand picked successor in Jim Mora, who had served two years as Assistant Head Coach and Defensive Backs coach. Thus, to look into this I decided to look at the current coaching staff for the Hawks and see who the most likely candidates might be. Here is a list of the current members of the Seahawks coaching staff not named Pete Carroll.
Following this, I felt it would be a good idea to explore whether there are any common threads among the coaches that Allen has hired in the past in order to glean any kind of clues as to certain traits Allen likes in his head coaches. During his time as owner Allen has had four head coaches: Erickson, Holmgren, Mora and Carroll, but Erickson was hired in 1995 while Allen did not become involved with the team until 1996. This means the coaches Allen have hired are Holmgren, Mora and Carroll. Thus, the task became to determine what common traits these three shared that led to their hiring by Allen in order to see if any of the assistants on the current staff shared those traits.
The first thing that jumped out to me is that the coaches are vastly different in their backgrounds. Holmgren was an offensive genius who learned under Bill Walsh, while Carroll is a defensive mastermind who preaches the benefits of a ground game. Regardless, what jumps out instantly is that Allen does not seem to have a preference whether his teams are more focused on offense or defense, as long as they are winning.
Interestingly, all three of Allen’s coaching hires have roots that trace through the Bay Area to the rival Niners. Carroll was the defensive coordinator for the Niners in the mid 90s, Mora was the defensive backs coach and defensive coordinator for several years in the late 90s and Holmgren came up through the Niners system as first the QB coach and later as offensive coordinator.
What also quickly presents itself is that all three of the coaches Allen has hired during his time with the Hawks have had previous head coaching experience in the NFL. Holmgren, of course, was brought to Seattle after a very successful run in Green Bay, Mora was hired to replace Holmgren after having been the head coach in Atlanta for three years and Carroll’s hiring in Seattle came after he had spent four years as head coach of the New York Jets and New England Patriots during the 1990s.
Thus, in looking at the list of assistants on the Seahawks coaching staff, I decided to go ahead and cross out any coaches without prior head coaching experience and to see if any of the potential future candidates had Bay Area connections that might give them a leg up on succeeding as Pete Carroll’s successor.
Well, that was easy.
The only member of the Hawks staff with prior experience as a head coach at the NFL level, also happened to gain that experience in the Bay Area, so it is with absolute certainty and confidence that I announce to you that whenever Pete Carroll decides it is time to move on, the next head coach of the Seattle Seahawks will be Tom Cable.
And with that I’m just going to logout for the day, while many of you rage out. Or stroke out. Whatever.