Will Pete Carroll be able to walk away from the Seahawks on his own when it's time?
Pete is a one-in-a-million football coach and will be difficult to replace: Seaside Joe 1395
First of all, first of all, first first first of all, today’s exploration of Pete Carroll’s tendencies is not a plea for the head coach to leave the Seattle Seahawks. It is an examination: If the decision as to “when to leave” is up to Pete Carroll, will Pete Carroll know when to leave?
I won’t be able to give you the answer to that question today, but I would love to hear your opinion on whether or not you believe Pete has any idea when he wants to stop coaching football players or stop coaching Seahawks football players, specifically.
Is there a goal in mind? One more Super Bowl championship and then that’s it? Two more? One more competitive playoff run? Three more competitive seasons? Or is it just running until he hits “E”? As we know in Seattle, sometimes there is “No-E”.
On Wednesday, PFT’s Mike Florio and Chris Simms discussed what Broncos owner Greg Penner outlined as his qualifications for Denver’s head coach, which got me thinking about Pete Carroll and how unique his responsibilities and abilities truly are as compared to other coaches. He’s really one of the most powerful people in football and one of the few who would actually make sense for the Broncos—first first first of all, I’m NOT saying that Pete Carroll will have a reunion with Russell Wilson.
What I am saying is that the Broncos are searching for “the next Pete Carroll” and that is one hell of a short list.
Penner wants the Broncos to find somebody who acts like a CEO, who can run the entire operation, who knows how to impart a philosophy and a discipline onto his players and coaches, and who can build a program from the ground up without any outside help or worrying about what others are saying about you. That last part reminded me of a tweet I saw about Jimmy Johnson on Tuesday.
The names that are on Penner’s list right now must be short.
It means that Shane Waldron and Shane Waldron-clones are not going to be the next head coach of the Denver Broncos. This is not the opportunity for the next Sean McVay or Mike McDaniel. This is maybe the next opportunity for someone like Tom Coughlin, were Tom Coughlin 20 years younger.
It’s a desire to find Andy Reid, despite Reid being a bit of a unicorn find for the Chiefs in 2013.
It’s looking for Doug Pederson as the Jaguars found in 2022, but with probably an even better resume and a more solid reputation as “the guy.” It’s Sean Payton, without having to sacrifice more draft picks to get a guy like Sean Payton, who remains under contract with the Saints.
And it’s looking for Pete Carroll, but someone who didn’t just trade that same starting quarterback to them as a means to finally separate.
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I mean, that is one short damn list. Florio and Simms settled on Jim Harbaugh, which just goes to show you how ridiculously difficult it will be for the Broncos to find the head coach who fits all of their criteria to a tee. Harbaugh has indeed had success at San Diego, Stanford, and Michigan, as well as a Super Bowl appearance in his second season as the head coach for the San Francisco 49ers.
But college is much different than the NFL. And I’m sorry but a lot of head coaches have made it to the Super Bowl who don’t know how to change the entire culture and philosophies of an NFL organization, let alone one that has actually had quite a lot of success in the recent past: Three Super Bowl championships since 1997, which is still more than most franchises can say for their entire existence.
As a reminder, Super Bowl-appearing head coaches since 1999 would include Jeff Fisher, Jim Fassel, Mike Martz, Jon Gruden, Bill Callahan, Lovie Smith, Ken Whisenhunt, Gary Kubiak, and Dan Quinn. Are you eager to turn over an organization to any of those names in their post-Super Bowl years? We’ve seen the returns on names like Gruden and Quinn and Whisenhunt fairly recently.
Even take someone like John Fox, who led the Panthers to the Super Bowl in 2003, his second season in the NFL. Carolina gave Fox seven more seasons after that (2-2 playoff record), then he was fired and went to Denver (four playoff trips in four years, including 2013’s Super Bowl loss), then three abysmal years with the Chicago Bears.
John Fox is fine. He got 14 more seasons as an NFL head coach after that one trip to the Super Bowl with the Panthers and two different organizations “bought in” to Fox.
Jim Harbaugh is fine. He had three successful seasons with the 49ers and was run out of town by the end of year four.
That’s it. What are we really basing this “priority” to hire Jim Harbaugh off of when his only NFL franchise decided to keep TRENT BAALKE over him?
However, counter-point, you could have said the same thing about Pete Carroll when the Seattle Seahawks made the controversial move to hire him in 2010, ending a successful run at USC?
Carroll had been twice fired as the head coach of an NFL team. He watched the Patriots go from mediocrity to dynasty after he was replaced by Bill Belichick. He was “run out” of college according to many who questioned the sanctity of how USC got all those star recruits under his watch. Carroll is a supremely unique football coaching figure but he didn’t become that until the Seahawks bought in at a time when few others would have bought in.
I distinctly remember how many people at Field Gulls hated the Pete Carroll hire in 2010 and were actively rooting for him to be fired up until Seattle turned out their fortunes in late 2012. There was little for his supporters to use as evidence for his continued employment other than faith.
I’m sure Pete Carroll appreciated the show of faith that Paul Allen and the Seahawks organization bestowed upon him in 2010 and through the immaculate resurgence of a team that had his fingerprints—and almost exclusively his fingerprints—all over the roster by the time the Seahawks were the best team in the NFL by 2013. I don’t have the evidence in front of me to back this statement up entirely, but I’m sure that few, if any, other team in the NFL had more turnover between 2010 and 2012.
Pete got rid of just about everybody and brought in his own guys. Other than Jon Ryan, Max Unger, Red Bryant and a few others, the Seahawks were “Pete’s Seahawks” and as the VP of Personnel and the final word on those decisions, a unique HC/GM situation pairing with John Schneider (one of the only teams in the NFL to hire the head coach as the main interviewer during the GM search, and were it not for the NFL disallowing Pete to be the HC and GM based on some rules at the time because he was being courted away from USC, we may not even have a “John Schneider”), Pete Carroll was on top of the world by the end of 2014.
So yeah, the Broncos are looking for “the next Pete Carroll” basically. Good luck with that. Nobody knew that the last Pete Carroll would be Pete Carroll, so I don’t know how you find the next guy who is that.
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Maybe it is Jim Harbaugh. Maybe not. We can’t know now.
That’s Denver’s problem to deal with and my question for the Seahawks, you, and Pete is, “When will Seattle be back on the search?” and “Does that require Pete Carroll to be the guy, once again, to lead it?”
Second second second of all, the “succession plan” that some are probably asking for did not work out well in any capacity when it went down between Mike Holmgren and Jim Mora, Jr.. NBC’s disaster with Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien was a better succession plan than that mess.
What I was most interested in when pondering Pete’s future today is merely this: He’s never really walked away from anything. And the fact that the Seahawks have shown him so much faith up to this point may make it very difficult for Pete Carroll to walk away from the team before they’re good again. They’re not very good right now.
Does that make it more likely or less likely that Pete wants to return? For one year, two years, or more years?
Pete has never truly just walked away from a situation before, so that’s why I question if he can actually do it. When Monte Kiffin was fired at NC State after three years, Pete was the defensive coordinator for the entire tenure and also lost his job. He left jobs for promotions—as Jets defensive coordinator in 1990, as Jets head coach in 1994, as Patriots head coach in 1997—but he was always fired at the end of those tenures.
With the Trojans, Pete led USC to national championships and a return to prominence, but ultimately may have left for the NFL because his run in college was already over. The Trojans were mediocre, the sanctions were coming, and the Seahawks were calling.
Nobody is going to come calling this time. And there isn’t anyone that we know of for sure who can fire Pete Carroll from the Seahawks other than maybe Pete Carroll.
It’s an interesting and unique situation, perhaps as unusual as the circumstances that initially led Pete to Seattle. Where do you see it going from here?
Being almost exactly the same age as Pete, I can tell you that he is totally aware of being old. However, he is a master of football, and has been doing it all his life. So coaching comes as easy as breathing. When my father was in his eighties, we asked a doctor if my father would soon lose his abilities to play bridge, which he was a master of, and the doctor said my father would likely retain his card playing ability till very near the end. That was about age 94. He was probably still better than me, but he wasn't at full capacity. At 90, he was still winning tournaments.
Pete may continue coaching for another 5 to 10 years unless illness forces him out before then. By about eighty, he might consider some kind of coach emeritus status. Some kind of an outside consultant position maybe? A couple of SB's? Three? A man like that might not want to do the media thing, so I would guess he's gonna have to be fired if we want him gone any time soon. And that's cool with me.
Pete's signed through 2025 and it wouldn't surprise me if the Hawks were a Super Bowl team and Pete went out on top in that last year of his contract. Schnieder is signed through 2027.
There's really only one man that check's every box on Denver's (and Russell Wilson's) wishlist and that's Sean Payton.