Following uninspiring performances by the Seattle Seahawks offense under new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, many fans have started wondering what led to the decision to hire Schottenheimer in spite of the lack of success in a decade long track record. Whether it is a coincidence or where head coach Pete Carroll looks for his offensive coaches, the hires that Carroll have made on the offensive side of the ball all share one common performance trait: being in charge of a successful rushing team at some point in the recent past.
Specifically, since Pete took over as the head coach the Seahawks have hired three offensive line coaches (technically four if you want to count Pat Ruel, who had a history with Carroll before being hired on short notice, but I don’t count him since he was an emergency stopgap and was replaced as soon as Cable became available) and three offensive coordinators.
The initial combination of offensive line coach and offensive coordinator for Pete in Seattle were Alex Gibbs and Jeremy Bates. Gibbs, of course, became famous after his zone blocking scheme helped propel the John Elway led Denver Broncos to consecutive Super Bowl titles in the late 1990s. Bates also held experience working in a Gibbs-style zone blocking scheme, having worked for Mike Shanahan in Denver for three seasons prior to Shanahan’s firing. Immediately upon Shanahan’s termination in Denver, Pete hired Bates to come to USC to serve as assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach before bringing him along to the Seahawks when Paul Allen offered Carroll the job.
As fans know, Gibbs abruptly retired on the eve of the 2010 season without an explanation, and that was when Carroll called on Pat Ruel to fill the role of offensive line coach for the year. Nearly as quickly as the season was over, however, Carroll had fired Bates and hired Tom Cable to replace Alex Gibbs. Cable had worked as a Gibbs mentee in 2006 with the Atlanta Falcons, where Gibbs served as a consultant to the team rather than as an official member of the coaching staff.
In addition to serving as the offensive line coach, Cable, of course, was also named the run game coordinator for the Seahawks. That left the offensive coordinator position unmanned, and Pete moved to quickly fill that position with Darrell Bevell who had been the offensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings from 2006 until 2010.
Bevell and Cable performed at an above average level for the seven seasons they were in command of the Seahawks offense, producing the franchise’s first Super Bowl title and coming within a single yard of a second Lombardi. However, after the team’s offense sputtered and struggled to get started more and more often through 2016 and 2017, both Cable and Bevell were relieved of their duties.
That led to the hiring of Mike Solari as the offensive line coach and Brian Schottenheimer as the offensive coordinator. Schottenheimer has a less than stellar track record, having been an offensive coordinator in the NFL for nine seasons and never once leading an offense that finished in the top quarter of the league in points per game and never once producing an offense that was above the median in NY/A over those nine seasons (NY/A is one of the stats that is most highly correlated with winning in the NFL).
So where are these coaches being pulled from? What common thread connects these hires when it comes to the run game?
It’s most likely a coincidence, and not the search that Carroll is using to choose his offensive coaches, but it is remarkable that in looking at the top five rushing seasons by yardage since the NFL adopted pass interference and illegal contact as a point of emphasis in 2004, four of the teams have offensive coaching staffs well known to Seattle fans. Here is a list of the top five rushing seasons by teams since 2005.
Top Rushing Teams in NFL since 2005
|Team||Season||Attempts||Yards||Yards per carry||TDs|
|Team||Season||Attempts||Yards||Yards per carry||TDs|
|New York Jets||2009||607||2756||4.54||21|
It’s not hard to see the links among four of those five teams. As noted above, the most prolific rushing team of the past twelve years, the 2006 Atlanta Falcons, had Tom Cable as its offensive line coach. There should be no explanation needed of the second team, but just in case there are any visitors here from another blog, the 2014 Seahawks had Tom Cable as offensive line coach and Darrell Bevell as the offensive coordinator.
And then there is the number three team on the list, the 2009 New York Jets. That Jets team had fourth year offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer in charge of the offense, and on the back of Thomas Jones, who for the time being is in the top 25 all time rushers in NFL history, rookie Shonn Green and third down back Leon Washington racked up quite the production.
Next on the list is the 2012 Washington Redskins, under the direction of offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and behind offensive line coach Chris Foerster. Shanahan, of course, is the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers after leading the prolific offense of the 2016 Falcons to within one back playcall of winning a Super Bowl, while Foerster is not currently employed in the NFL. For those who are not familiar with his situation, Foerster is the former Miami Dolphins coach who appeared in a video on social media last season doing lines and was promptly relieved of his duties. Reports are that he is out of rehab and is doing well, but apparently doing drugs on video is not an offense which is acceptable to NFL teams when it comes to their coaches.
Moving to the fifth and final team on the list, the 2007 Minnesota Vikings were under the direction of offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, though many will be likely to credit that team’s rushing performance to a still young Adrian Peterson being a sight to behold.
In any case, while it is more likely a coincidence than anything else, it is certainly an interesting fact that at the time of their hirings the offensive coaches brought in by Pete Carroll - Tom Cable, Darrell Bevell and Brian Schottenheimer - all were an assistant coach with a team that was top three in the NFL in overall rushing production since the start of the 2005 season.