Pete Carroll vs. Mike Shanahan: Which Head Coach Is Under More Pressure?

Ryan CookFeatured ColumnistMarch 19, 2010

RENTON, WA - JANUARY 12:  Pete Carroll answers questions at a press conference announcing his hiring as the new head coach of the Seattle Seahawks on January 12, 2010 at the Seahawks training facility in Renton, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

It's been hard to find time to discuss newly appointed head coaches Pete Carroll and Mike Shanahan with the NFL Free Agency and NFL Draft taking up most of the spotlight.

However, with Seattle and Washington both needing more than ever to post an above-.500 season in 2010, there is no time like the present to discuss the two football head coaching veterans.

It's seems like years ago that we were all blown away by Pete Carroll's departure from USC and Mike Shanahan's return to the NFL after a full year layoff.  However, in reality, it was only a few months ago.

With a long list of needs and wants from fans of both teams, neither Washington or Seattle gets the honour of being the most humble place for a new head coach to step foot in. 

Therefore, here's a look at the offense, defense and draft needs of both teams, equipped with an overall grade ranging from A to F.

Pete Carroll—Seattle Seahawks

Offense - Overall Grade: C-

Well, where to start?  To put this bluntly, 2009 was a horrid year for the Seattle Seahawks on the offensive side of the ball.  Ranked 21st in the NFL on total offense, Matt Hasselbeck's 17 interceptions didn't help matters. 

One thing that stood out to me when watching Seattle, was the lack of motivation and excitement.  Once a team that went to Super Bowl XL with an exciting offense and a promising future, they transformed into a dismal team that looks destined for high-ranked draft picks and nothing else.

It is sad to see what has happened to Seattle.  Maybe it's the lack of a decent run game or just the fact that the head coaching hasn't been there, Seattle is a team that has some talent, but just doesn't know how to use it. 

That's where Pete Carroll comes in.  Loud, energized, and above all else a motivator, Pete would be wise to give the same infamous pep talks he once gave to USC, straight to the Seattle Seahawks.  God knows Matt Hasselbeck could use them.

Defense - Overall Grade: D

Seattle has struggled on defense for a while now, but for some reason there hasn't been a mad rush to fix it.  Ranked 24th overall on defense, Seattle's lack of pressure and coverage last season was one of the contributing factors of their 5-11 season.

Carroll isn't a defensive genius by any means, but he does know a thing or two about recruiting talent. 

With the Seahawks starting corner backs only racking up 4 interceptions overall last season, it may be wise to take a good hard look at a player such as Dominique Franks or Eric Berry, who could provide some much needed dominance in the backfield.

Draft Needs:

As I just stated, the corner back position is one area that Seattle could focus on.  However, the more sensible route would be to look at a quarterback. 

In what came as a questionable move recently, it seems that Seattle isn't willing to wait until the Draft to add a new quarterback to their roster.

Former San Diego Charger Charlie Whitehurst has been added to help back up Matt Hasselbeck, and given that he hasn't thrown a pass on an NFL field just yet, it comes as a cause for concern for Seattle faithfuls.

Still though, people are speculating a possible Jimmy Clausen or Colt McCoy signing come April.  With a young guy needed, "molding" is the key word that comes to mind when considering Seattle's quarterback needs for the future.

Mike Shanahan—Washington Redskins:

Offense - Overall Grade: C

Interestingly enough, Washington takes the 22nd spot right behind Seattle for overall offense in 2009.  However, I don't think that Washington's issues are as concerning as Seattle's just yet.

Jason Campbell has been criticised by some recently, who claim that he has had his chance and should at least be demoted to second string.  Other Redskins fans make the statement that Campbell has at least been consistent at times, and can lead the Redskins somewhere in the future.

Like the Seahawks, rushing has also been lacking for Washington.  However, the Redskins have at least made a step in what seems to be a positive direction by signing former Cincinnati Bengal Larry Johnson to a three-year deal.

Hopefully, LJ can get some things done in Washington and provide the heavy and smash-mouth style run game that he has become famous for.

More importantly though, the Redskins have begun looking at former Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Sam Bradford.

Along with the Rams, Washington is set to plan workouts with Bradford in the future and determine whether or not he is worthy of their first round pick.

Defense - Overall Grade: B

Luckily for Mike Shanahan, the defense doesn't require too much work.  Ranked 10th in the NFL on overall defense, the off-season has become a frenzy for potential signings. 

Linebacker London Fletcher states that "they always knew how to create excitement or anticipation during free agency in years past, but it's a new regime here now."

Unlike Seattle, the Redskins don't have problems containing the passing game.  No, rather it's the run game and points allowed that seem to torment the Redskins.  Realistically though, they aren't problems that a few good signings couldn't solve.

The main thing to remember about Washington's defense is that they are in a tough division.  When the regular occasion of the Giants, Cowboys and Eagles appears on their schedule, it is almost a given that their corner backs and safeties will be tested.  Depth is key for Washington, and injury is something that needs to be avoided.

Draft Needs:

Earlier I would have said a running back such as Toby Gerhart could be a good fit in Washington, but now there is no need. 

More than likely, a quarterback will be required in the likes of Sam Bradford or maybe Tim Tebow. 

A solid guy who throws great deep balls is a must have in the Washington style passing game, therefore I do see a young quarterback being drafted in the long run.


So, who is under more pressure?  The answer is obviously Pete Carroll.  With Arizona and San Francisco both surging in the NFC West, Seattle is fast falling behind and locking their present spot at the number three seed.

Things could change, but some discipline, motivation and great recruiting is needed.  Pete has a job to do, and he has ultimately been brought in to fix an organization in despair. 

It's not time for panic stations just yet, but Pete does need to make a convincing and sensible move this April.  The pressure is on, but he can handle it.

For Pete though, the old quote of "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" comes into play.  There is no need to change things drastically, just filling the holes and addressing needs are a must-haves at the moment.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.