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Why the Seahawks fired Pete Carroll

Seattle has not been close to its chief NFC West rivals.

Seattle Seahawks v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The offseason of the Seattle Seahawks officially reaches one week old Sunday, and even though it is still early, it is already among the biggest offseasons of change for the Hawks in franchise history. That, of course, stems out of the fact that on Wednesday, following a 9-8 season which finished with the team failing to qualify for the postseason for the second time in three years, the team announced that head coach Pete Carroll would no longer lead the team going forward.

The reactions to the move were not surprising, with many feeling it should not have been made, with others complaining it comes years too late after the Seahawks have managed to win a single playoff game since the end of the Obama administration. The lack of postseason success comes in spite of continually posting winning records during the regular season, and in spite of the Hawks posting winning records in each of the last two campaigns after trading franchise quarterback Russell Wilson.

All of that brings things down to the question of why ownership would make a decision to move on, and there has been no shortage of possible answers offered by fans and observers. Carroll, of course, noted that it was “not football people” who made the decision, and offered that he had the solutions to the football issues that led to many of the on field struggles of the team in 2023 and seasons past. However, just as many commenters noted, if Carroll had those solutions to the on-field issues, it was his job to implement them, and season after season he failed to do so.

Boiling things down to the core, Carroll’s job was to win, which was something he did not do enough of in recent seasons compared to the lofty expectations established in the early years of his tenure. Specifically, the Seahawks once dominated the NFC West to the tune of a 10-3 record during the 2013 and 2014 Super Bowl seasons saw changes that led to the evaporation of that dominance. Over the past two years Seattle posted a record of 6-7 against NFC West rivals, and while one game under .500 is not horrific, it’s somewhat misleading when one considers the following scores:

  • Week 6 of 2022: Seahawks 19, Arizona Cardinals 9
  • Week 9 of 2022: Seahawks 31, Cardinals 21
  • Week 7 of 2023: Seahawks 20, Cardinals 10
  • Week 18 of 2023: Seahawks 21, Cardinals 20

Sweeping a division opponent in consecutive seasons is, of course, noteworthy, but astute readers will quickly piece together that if a team posted a 6-7 record against division opponents while going 4-0 against the cellar dweller of the division, that’s not great news for the other nine outcomes. Particularly, given that the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers are the two biggest rivals for the Seahawks, looking at the outcomes of the matchups against those rivals is stomach churning.

  • Week 2 of 2022: 49ers 27, Seahawks 7
  • Week 13 of 2022: Seahawks 27, Rams 23
  • Week 15 of 2022: 49ers 21, Seahawks 13
  • Week 18 of 2022: Seahawks 19, Rams 16
  • Wild Card Round in 2022: 49ers 41, Seahawks 23
  • Week 1 of 2023: Rams 30, Seahawks 13
  • Week 11 of 2023: Rams 17, Seahawks 16
  • Week 12 of 2023: 49ers 31, Seahawks 13
  • Week 14 of 2023: 49ers 28, Seahawks 16

A 2-7 record against the Rams and Niners is obviously far from ideal, but it gets even worse. The scores of those games combine to 234 to 147, or a point differential of -87, or -9.7 points per game. That means the expected outcome when setting foot on the field against the Rams and Niners is a hair shy of a double digit loss, and that’s without even taking into consideration that the two wins over Los Angeles in 2022 came while the Rams were without Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp and Aaron Donald. In other words, the Seahawks finished 2022 and 2023 without a single win over their biggest rivals without the benefit of facing a backup quarterback and one of the most dominant defensive players in league history not playing, and that’s simply not going to cut it.

So, one can argue that fielding a defense that couldn’t stop opponents running the ball or on third and long, or failing to field an offensive line that could open holes in the run game or consistently protect the quarterback in passing situations eventually led to Carroll’s downfall. However, at the end of the day, though, there’s no need to overcomplicate things and that means there’s no need to look any further than an inability to compete against the teams that have been the class of the NFC West in recent seasons.