First of all, this is my first attempt at making a true article here since I usually just comment in my spare time...that aside..
Most Seahawks' fans are already aware that Jim Mora Jr. has been ousted as our head coach. Some may still be shocked at the news since it essentially came from out of nowhere as well.
Now we have been seeing numerous reports from various credible sources that the Seahawks already have his replacement nearly locked up, University of Southern California Coach Pete Carroll.
Carroll has been noted as wanting to return to the NFL for years, contacting nearly everyone at various points (including the Dolphins prior to Bill Parcells assuming his current position). This means he is after control.
As DeCosta of the Ravens pulled his name from consideration it has been made more than obvious that the Seahawks aren't going to be making the GM catch they wanted, so why not get a coach who can assume that role as well?
I'm sure we all remember how well Holmgren's first stint assuming that role (and team president) affected his ability to get the job done on the field...but eventually his work in those positions laid the foundations to our Super Bowl XL run. I'm not saying that Carroll is anywhere near as good as Holmgren (he was only decent in the '90s with the Jets and Patriots W-L wise) but people can change given a second chance.
As fans, if we wind up with Carroll, we have to evaluate what we're getting. He can be compared to Mora in that he is a defensive-minded coach, but I believe he is more balanced as a play-caller and has the ability to actually fire up his squads (a talent Mora desperately lacks to be a HC at this level).
This could help whip them into shape rather than crashing and burning in hard games. I assume Carroll will know what he's walking into and will, hopefully (fingers-crossed), make the right drafting and staff decisions to fix the 'Hawks quickly.
And maybe, through some form of mercy...the football gods may have given us the football version of Big Z (though nothing can be said at this point...only hoped for).
So, a defensive head coach with hands on the reigns, what may our reshaping look like?
Fire Greg KnappSack/Replace with competent passing OC
I hated the Knapp signing from day one, Vick made his original offense work and a rotation paired with constant running fueled his "success" in Oakland. I was for giving Mora another year as long as Knapp was canned. Now that Mora is gone, Knapp MUST go.
It is partially the line's fault but he is mostly to blame for not being able to find any form of consistency with a healthy (minus Walt, but Walt wont be here forever, if ever again) line.
Knapp is run, run, run. It's what he does and he does it for the stats, he cannot utilize a passing QB for his life, line or not. Carrol has proven that while he is semi-competent with his offense, he needs a good passing-based OC by his side (Sark).
On the NFL level I can't name many great available OCs nor can I name any good QB coaches worth promoting, this partially due to a laziness surrounding my lack of knowledge of other teams staffing depth.
However, Jim Zorn has just been fired by the Redskins. At this point he hasn't displayed the talent to really coach up a team, but I believe he is a far better play caller than what was exhibited with a very bad Redskins franchise (along the offensive line, decent backup QB as starter, sub-par mix-and-match receiving corps etc.).
He also has displayed the talent to help mature a QB and create a friendly passing system for a competent QB. Zorn is a Holmgren protege (Gruden, Reid, Jauron) and has adequate knowledge of NFL offenses to preform as a coordinator, possibly even excel in a very comfortable "home field" atmosphere here in Seattle where people actually respect him. His 6-0 start to last season didn't come from him being bad at his job.
Retain Gus Bradley
Another position coach promoted last season (from Tampa a.k.a. the Great Kiffin Tampa defense) to our defensive coordinator. People try to blame him for some of our defensive shortfalls but I place more blame on the shoulders of Mora, a defensive head coach who essentially blanketed Bradley when it came to football matters surrounding the D. The same will most likely happen under Carroll so there is no pressing need to remove him.
I tend to want to tie these together as you draft to fit your scheme, this helps me streamline any articles and better explain my picks more efficiently.
There are two positions I would prioritize with our first two picks: offensive left tackle and defensive tackle.
On both sides of the ball, our trenchmen weren't able to live up to expectations. I don't care who we pick with the LT as long as they project well for the future, I also like my tackles big (by tackle standards) if possible, because when you can compare sheer size with raw power and at least solid technique as a rookie, you have all the tools to be a great pass blocker if not developing as a competent to great run blocker along the way.
If we can squeeze one more year out of Walt I would prefer to plug him in at LG where he could still be effective in a less demanding position, helping to tutor the young OT on and off the field. I would also be interested in retaining him as a line coach after his retirement.
As for my DT choice, my favorite prospect that even has a chance of being a Seahawk is Terrance Cody of Alabama (6'5", 354 lbs. of Mount Cody).
His stats don't wow you. In fact, he gets very few tackles and sacks, but his role goes beyond the numbers. The guy is a monster. We currently lack a "good enough" nose tackle to really consider a 3-4 defensive switch as Brandon Mebane is a 3-Technique and Collin Cole has been underwhelming. Cody can literally consume 2-3 linemen per play and can really push the pocket. Under this new scheme I would...
- Trade Kerney while he still has some value to teams
- Switch Brandon Mebane to DE as he has the speed for it
- Run a rotation of Lawrence Jackson, Darryl Tapp, and possibly Nick Reed on the opposite side
The competition opposite Mebane may spur more competitiveness in our DEs while Cody gobbles up as many linemen as he can muster. Beyond the position switching, Cody's presence will also boost the stats of all our linebackers and blitzing safeties as all of the holes will allow for far more penetration than we have seen in the last two years.
Even if our defense doesn't turn out amazing initially, it will be a great leap forward in terms of taking stress off of our secondary (which is better than advertised).
How do I justify even bringing Cody up? Carroll, again, is a defensive coach and will most likely want to shore up the holes in our D prior to taking too much interest into drafting for our offense. Maybe he'll look at one or two O-line picks this year and possibly a new RB or QB next year, depending on where we end up.
In the early stages of rebuilding or rebuffing it is always good to focus on the defense first, especially since the Hawks have very little in terms of offense or defense from what has been presented.
It is far better to have defense and no offense compared to the other way. A good defense can score for itself and give the offense better field position as well as getting off the field fast and preventing run-up scores that a weak offense can't consistently run with.
On the flip side, a bad defense will give up tons of points that even a great offense (which we won't have early, even with two miracle picks) would have trouble keeping up with. In short, expect a lot of picks that won't "wow" you. Personally, as long as we avoid trading up for Taylor Mays, I'll be pleased.
I don't wish to go into free agent possibilities at this time, but with the richest owner and an uncapped year along with a new coach, I suppose we can go after almost any piece we want and have a legit shot. I'm no football operations guy but I like to think I know what I'm talking about. Hopefully, no matter what happens, we can just right the Seahawks ship, if not turn it around abruptly.