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How important is Pete Carroll to the Seahawks in 2019?

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Arizona Cardinals v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Back on Wednesday I posted an article pondering what the 2019 season would look like for the Seattle Seahawks if Russell Wilson were not at the helm, and the results were pretty much in line with what I expected. Field Gulls readers who responded to the poll had a slightly more optimistic outlook for a season played without Wilson at the helm, but it is still a stretch by any measure to state that fans believe things would be fine even without Wilson for 2019.

In any case, here is how Field Gulls readers responded to the poll (as of Saturday morning Pacific Time; the poll will continue for several more days though it’s likely the majority of voters who will vote have already done so).

So, 88% of respondents felt that the Seahawks are a .500 or worse team without Wilson in 2019, which was slightly better than how those who responded to the poll on Twitter felt the team would finish in such a situation. Here are the final results of the Twitter poll just as a reminder.

What these results lead me to question is how much meaning do Pete Carroll and his coaching skill carry for the team? If he is such a great defensive coach, and was in charge of creating the first defense in NFL history that was the number one scoring defense for four seasons in a row, shouldn’t a team he coaches be better than 6-10 in the absence of the franchise quarterback?

In the two seasons prior to Wilson’s arrival, Carroll managed more than six wins in each individual campaign. Further, he now has some of the key components of his rebuilt defense reaching the point in their careers where they should start to blossom and develop into potential stars. The upcoming 2019 season is set to be the third season of starting for cornerback Shaquill Griffin and the second season as a starter for his counterpart on the flip side of the defense, Tre Flowers. Add in defensive end Frank Clark and Jarran Reed truly breaking out in 2018, Quinton Jefferson and Branden Jackson showing their own development, and the potential for a deep corps of linebackers in Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright and Mychal Kendricks, and there at least appears to be a recipe for much of the defense to potentially be very good.

And very good would be an improvement for the Seahawks defenses of the past couple of seasons, as both the 2017 and 2018 versions of the defense failed to crack the top ten. Injuries and youth obviously played a very large part of both of those results, but what is the expectation for the Seattle defense in 2019? Will they return to form as a top flight defense? Will they continue to to perform as a middling defense as they miss the star players who have been lost to age, injury and free agency in recent years? Or will they, for some reason or another, see a decline in performance in a below average defense? During his nine seasons in the Northwest Carroll has only seen one of his defenses finish in the bottom half of the league in scoring, and that was during his first year with the Hawks in 2010.

Thus, today’s question for fans is the following:

Poll

Where will the Seahawks scoring defense finish the 2019 season?

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    1st - 4th
    (162 votes)
  • 45%
    5th - 8th
    (582 votes)
  • 30%
    9th - 12th
    (385 votes)
  • 8%
    13th - 16th
    (104 votes)
  • 2%
    17th - 20th
    (29 votes)
  • 0%
    21st - 24th
    (5 votes)
  • 0%
    25th or below
    (9 votes)
1276 votes total Vote Now

My impression would be that if fans don’t think the team will win many games if Wilson were not at quarterback, then the defense would not seem to perform at a very high level. Eleven of the top twelve scoring defenses in 2018 finished the season with a winning record, a trend that has largely held over the past ten seasons. In fact, of the 120 teams that have finished in the top 12 in a season in scoring defense, 97 of those teams finished with a winning record.

Here is a breakdown for the past ten years of the number of top twelve scoring defenses that finished with a winning record.

  • 2018: 11
  • 2017: 11
  • 2016: 8
  • 2015: 12
  • 2014: 9
  • 2013: 10
  • 2012: 10
  • 2011: 6
  • 2010: 11
  • 2009: 9

So, if almost 81% of teams that have finished with a top twelve scoring defense over the past decade have finished with a winning record, what would make the Seahawks fall into the 19% exemption?

Thus, if the Seahawks would win six or fewer games if anyone other than Russell were at quarterback, exactly how much value does Carroll bring to the team?