After a tenuous year-long playoff drought, the Seattle Seahawks are playing meaningful games in January once more. And at the center of this redemption story lies our main character: Peter Clay Carroll.
Pete is arguably the best coach in the Seahawks’ 42-year history, aside from Chuck Knox and Mike Holmgren. Before the season, the team was projected to win 7 to 9 games; the fact that the Seahawks are now 10-6 is a result of Carroll’s leadership, player-development, and coaching skills.
For context, the Seahawks have faced a relatively middling strength of schedule but earned important wins against Super Bowl favorites Kansas City, Minnesota, and Dallas. As Field Gulls contributor John Gilbert noted, it is tough for teams to come into Seattle with a two-hour time difference and play in primetime, so the fact that the Seahawks went undefeated in that respect is remarkable.
Equally important are the losses. During games against the Rams, Chargers, and Bears, the Seahawks kept pace, having lost by less than one score in each respective contest (a feat only replicated by top-tier teams such as the Packers, Cardinals, Broncos, and Bengals). Forget the fact that Russell Wilson threw costly interceptions or that Sebastian Janikowski missed field goals; such results are a reflection of Carroll’s ability to instill a culture of competitiveness that few teams hope to achieve.
In terms of play-calling and schemes, Carroll should also be praised for returning the team to the physical identity that garnered them a Super Bowl appearance 13 years ago. Committing to Chris Carson and Mike Davis, Brian Schottenheimer has cultivated an offense that ranks 8th and 4th in rushing and passing DVOA respectively. Defensively, the implementation of Ken Norton Jr. as defensive coordinator has turned the defense back to the days of Gus Bradley, relying on turnovers to supersede frequent third-down conversions.
Finally, we must also consider the amount of influence that Carroll has on player development and overseeing the 53-man roster. For all the talk of the demise of the Legion of Boom and the Seahawks locker room becoming toxic, Carroll has done well in remaking a team by letting go of the many future Hall of Fame players he had developed in the past five seasons. In doing so, Carroll has drafted and replaced them with equally impactful contributors, from Marcus Johnson, (who Carroll got from Philadelphia in the Michael Bennett trade), to free agent Tom Johnson and first-round pick Rashaad Penny.
To paraphrase Kylo Ren, from the best Star Wars movie since The Empire Strikes Back, one must let the past die in order to become who they are meant to be. Carroll has certainly discarded the ways of the old.
His ability to remake a team with a top-10 quarterback, left tackle, wide receiver, defensive end, middle linebacker, and free safety into a contender is impressive. This, along with the fact that the Seahawks have won most games that they should’ve won in the bloodbath that is the NFC conference (where only 7 teams finished with a winning record), makes Carroll an easy choice for the NFL’s Coach of the Year.
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