When Pete Carroll said “I’m done” and walked off the podium on Sunday night in Week 11, it simply felt...bad.
In a first-time move for the head coach of the Seattle Seahawks, falling to 3-7 appeared to be momentarily too much for Carroll to process.
“I’m just not any good at this. I’m just not prepared for this. I’m struggling to do a good job of coaching when you get your butt kicked week in and week out. It’s new territory and I’m competing in every way I can think of, but it’s just unfamiliar." - Carroll after the loss. https://t.co/ScF4ecaXdE— Brandon Gustafson (@TheBGustafson) November 22, 2021
Now I am not one of the doomsayers who believe that move will ultimately precipitate the end of Pete Carroll this year.
We’ve been faced with the question all year, and as Pete simply said “I’m done” and vanished from before our very eyes, it unavoidably generated the question: what about life after Pete? What will it look like, and when will it be?
For starters, the obvious. It’s coming sooner than later.
Pete Carroll achieved one Super Bowl win and a second appearance with the best quarterback this franchise has ever employed. He instigated a remarkable turnaround in 2018-19 with what now looks to be a talent-deficient roster.
However, he isn’t capable of doing so again this year, and Russell Wilson has now ingrained himself as part of the problem. How much? Unclear; he’s the next installment in this series. But Carroll won’t be the guy to start this thing from scratch whenever that happens. He may very well ride this contract out, but that would be the end of Seattle Pete.
I do not wish this. Carroll has not been a stellar football mind this year, perhaps a bit longer. Yet he has been, for the overwhelming majority of his life, a phenomenal leader. He still is.
But there are a few things coming, things that have gone, and things that remain outside Carroll’s control, that will eventually facilitate his transition.
So Part 1 in this thought experiment, starting with the most eventual: what about Life after Pete?
Without Pete, more aggressive
Across the board. Carroll is not an aggressive guy. For all the fans who assume the next head coach will be Sean McVay; he could also be Dan Campbell. (Campbell is the ‘we’ll bite your kneecaps off yes I think you heard me but I really mean to find another human and bite his kneecap’ guy, who is now 0-9-1).
There are people in the world, believe it or not, who are far more aggressive both on the field and in personality.
The field stuff has killed Carroll for 10 years.
It is offensive football suicide to have essentially the NFL’s worst 3rd down quarterback (more later) and be bottom-5 bad at 4th down decisions. You cannot win football games like that - and suddenly - you are not winning football games like that.
With only anecdotal evidence I believe this applies to free agency as well. Carroll has a certain magnetic charm, but the amount of big names the Seahawks miss out on if not traded for, makes one wonder. Carroll is a wooer, not a fierce negotiator. This year added another two to three names to that list, and there comes a point in the NFL when perhaps a heavy handed risk-taker is needed to shore up roster holes over and against “hope the competition works” mentality.
Without Pete, less relational
Some of the Seattle fanbase do not care for this aspect at all. Take McVay again or Bill Belichick as an example. Both have enjoyed many NFL wins, and one of them has even scored more than three points in the Super Bowl!
Both of them have left a trail of fractured relationships across the NFL, albeit McVay’s is infinitely smaller to date. Belichick the football genius is not what I’d say beloved by all, and McVay straight up turned on Jared Goff in an abrupt and awkwardly handled exit.
Two years back, I compiled a list of emigrated veterans that spoke so highly of the culture Pete Carroll created it had generated momentum around the league. Josh Gordon, Jadeveon Clowney, Duane Brown, D.J. Fluker. Guys that have played a lot of ball. The character of Carroll had a significant formation in a decade of very functional football.
We’re furious at a 3-7 record. Some organizations haven’t had a good coach or quarterback in 20 years, and others have sent multiple people to prison in the last five.
Another coach may make better football decisions. In a few key areas, it would be close to impossible not to. But I’m not convinced the next coach will be a better person than Pete Carroll.
Without Pete, big boys
Seattle has absolutely lost this season in the trenches. They’ve lost a few other places as well, but definitely on both lines. The offensive line is...well it is five guys who are occasionally in the way.
The defensive line is terrible.
Though a small platoon of coaches and coordinators have come and gone, for 10 years Seattle has tried too many experiments on the offensive line. Too many offseasons have passed with a flier-on-Luke-Joeckel and another-on-Dion-Jordan.
2021 is the wrong NFL to bargain hunt both lines consistently. Of all the things that Carroll does that are from another era of football, I believe it is this that has hurt the team more than any other. Seattle somehow has magicked a good defense out of thin air with virtually no pass rush. Their 15 sacks are one above league-lowest.
Carroll is not the general manager, but at some point the wise head coach will put his foot down and say we simply have to be better here. The bad drafting is not on Pete; but the lack of emphasis is. In part, at least.
Without Pete, gum can rest easy
That’s about it for me. I don’t care to predict the scheme, the strengths, the whatever else. You can’t even say with confidence the next version of the team won’t run. Seattle’s entire team had fewer rushing attempts than James Conner did, and only 16 attempts total the week before.
But I do know that Carroll constantly - constantly stands up for his players. He has spoken up authentically against racism, and blew everyone out of the water last year in Covid safety. There was a time, when the talent was a bit closer, that the extra “Pete belief” was enough to keep the team nearly untouchable at home and in prime time games. They always seemed ready to play the big moments.
I will miss that. I already do.