Who is Pete Carroll's heir apparent?
The worst moment in Seahawks coaching history is the one in which Mike Holmgren decided that Jim Mora, Jr. was going to succeed him when he stepped down. It was no favor to Mora to hand him a 4-12 team, but such is the challenge for most new head coaches.
On the flipside of that decision, Mora served as the perfect patsy when the Seahawks were made aware that Pete Carroll would be available in 2010. “Patsy head coaches” have long served a key role in the NFL, albeit one that gets them forgotten, at best… and remembered, at worst.
Sometimes teams expect to lose for a year or two. It’s easier to have someone who is easy to fire without blowback from the fans and without wasting the time of an ideal candidate. Jeff Fisher was probably a legitimate hire when the St. Louis Rams signed him in 2012. By 2015, he was a patsy serving out his time until the franchise made it to Los Angeles and could begin the Sean McVay era.
There were some interesting coaching changes in 2022. First, Sean Payton stunned everybody by stepping away with two seasons remaining on his Saints contract, opening the backdoor for Dennis Allen to become a head coach again. Then, Bruce Arians followed suit after Tom Brady un-retired, giving Todd Bowles his second chance at the job too. Another unexpected move was the Texans side-stepping their interviews to promote Lovie Smith after becoming entangled in the Brian Flores lawsuit.
Those in-house moves could be a sign of things to come for several other NFL franchises in the coming years. Bill Belichick may be the only coach in the league who has deeper roots in his current organization than the Seahawks and Carroll, and few expect Seattle to consider firing him even in the most dire of seasons because of the ongoing search for new ownership beginning in 2024.
But if the Seahawks were for some reason worse from here on out, would the franchise consider working around a traditional coaching firing/hiring by letting Carroll continue to run the personnel operations while giving new blood a chance at coaching the team on the field?
How will the Seahawks approach a vacant head coaching position if and when Carroll gets the opportunity to leave on his own terms? Who are the leading candidates to be Carroll’s heir apparent?