It’s understandable that Seahawks coach Pete Carroll doesn’t want to lose the man who finally resurrected the Seahawks’ long-dormant running game, but his fears of losing Tom Cable this year certainly seem unfounded, and the odds are quite good that Cable will be around to help continue the growth of the offensive line for at least another season.
After a very slow start, Cable really brought that unit together in the second half of the season, culminating in Marshawn Lynch becoming the Seahawks’ first 1,000-yard rusher since Shaun Alexander in the 2005 Super Bowl season.
Lynch and the injury-depleted line, which was starting three backups, punctuated their development in Week 16 with the first 100-yard game and rushing touchdown surrendered by the 49ers’ league-best run defense this season.
“I think it’s just part of their growth,” Cable told reporters after that game. “It’s just showing them that you can go against the best defense, and you can accomplish your goals, and you can accomplish what you’ve set out to [do to] help your team win. And I think that’s what this whole program has become about: What is my role and what do I have to do to help this team win? And I think that group has really kind of embraced it.”
Cable’s role early on was to meld two rookies (James Carpenter and John Moffitt), a second-year left tackle (Russell Okung) and a first-year starter at center (Max Unger) with one veteran guard (Robert Gallery).
Injuries messed up that plan from the start, and that unit started just four games together all season. Gallery missed four of the first five games, Unger missed one game, Carpenter and Moffitt both were lost for the season in November and Okung went out in Week 13. That left Breno Giacomini, Paul McQuistan and Lemuel Jeanpierre to finish it out, and they were more effective than we expected them to be.
The Hawks started six combinations up front and now have used 30 in the past four years (that’s basically a new lineup every other game). But for the first time in the three years, the Hawks have been trying to run the zone-blocking scheme, and the system worked. There’s no other way to explain how the Hawks managed to succeed with such a hodgepodge lineup.
Cable has done for Seattle what he did for Oakland, which under his watch in 2010 finished as the No. 2 rushing team in the league. The foundation now exists for the Hawks to hit the ground running next season, but Carroll is afraid some team might steal his cherished line coach.
“I don’t want to expect [to lose Cable] because I want him to stay here forever," Carroll told reporters. “He’s a really good football coach, and he has a tremendous impact on a football team. We felt it. It was a tremendous get for us to have Tom come here.”
Carroll added: “It's just a matter of time before somebody recognizes that and wants to come after him.”
Cable was rumored to be a candidate for the UCLA job that went to former Seahawk coach Jim Mora. But that’s the only time Cable’s name came up. Most of the college openings have been filled, and it’s hard to see any pro team hiring Cable as a head coach again—his personal reputation precedes him and former Raider coaches don’t usually get another shot in the NFL (Norv Turner is the only one of five former coaches in the past 10 years to get another NFL gig).
If Cable does go at some point (probably to college), the foundation has been laid and Pat Ruel should be able to keep things running smoothly. Ruel, who coached under Carroll at USC, was hired to help Art Valero after Alex Gibbs suddenly retired just before the 2010 season. Cable replaced Valero last year, but Ruel stayed to help Cable and should be able to keep it going if Cable leaves.
For now, though, it’s almost a sure thing that Cable will stay hooked to the Seahawks for another year.
It’s nice to see that Carroll also wants to keep tight end John Carlson. The four-year veteran said he would like to come back but didn’t know whether the Hawks felt the same way.
“If it’s a mutual thing, that’d be great,” he told reporters last week. “I’ll be here rehabbing the next two months prior to free agency. So I’m sure those talks will continue, and we’ll see what happens.”
A couple of days later, Carroll told reporters: “We thought it could really enhance John’s game having Zach [Miller] here, so we’re hoping we can get that done and get him back with us.”
The Seahawks are paying Miller $6 million a year, and they should be willing to pay Carlson half that—maybe a four-year deal worth $12 million.
To find out which players the Seahawks should make a priority to re-sign, go Outside the Press Box.
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