We know the situation. Seahawks down by four, 25 seconds left, 2nd & Goal. Russell Wilson drops back to pass. Interception. Patriots win. Seahawks lose.
Cliff Avril’s comments this past week or so may have conjured up some painful memories for Seahawks players, coaches and fans alike.
I think guys started questioning him [Carroll] more, more so than actually following his lead if we would have won that Super Bowl.
Only eight teams in the history of the NFL have ever won two Super Bowls back to back. The Seahawks and Pete Carroll had a chance to join that exclusive club and blew it. A chance for the Seattle Seahawks to cement themselves as one of the most historic teams, and defences, in NFL history went up in smoke.
The irony is that two plays before the Malcolm Butler interception, perhaps the greatest ever Super Bowl catch was made by Jermaine Kearse, yet it was mostly forgotten. After witnessing that impossible catch, myself and many others thought to ourselves this is it, the universe has decided to make this team the defining franchise of the decade. It’s meant to be.
And with the Seahawks and Pete Carroll on the precipice of greatness, the football gods snatched it away. Kearse’s miracle catch which was lost in the NFL either, may become an appropriate analogy for Pete Carroll’s tenure as head coach of the Seattle Seahawks.
It is said that one play can change a game or even a season. But that interception in Super Bowl 49 on the Patriots goal line may have changed Pete Carroll’s legacy as a head coach forever.
Flash forward to the Winter of 2018. The Seahawks fail to make the play-offs for the first time since 2011 after finishing 9-7. And after running the NFC West for the last seven years Seattle finished in second place behind the young, dynamic and dangerous L.A. Rams.
Carroll’s coaching, for the first time in a long time, has started to be questioned. Since 2013, the Seahawks regular season record has declined each year. After the departure of Marhshawn Lynch to retirement after the 2015 season, the Seattle’s running game has been toothless- shocking for a team which running the football had become a sacred philosophy. In the past two seasons the Seahawks accumulated 1,591 rushing yards in 2016, 1,624 in 2017. Russell Wilson, their franchise quarterback led the team in rushing last season with 586 yards. Compare that with 2,268 total rushing yards in 2015 and 2,764 in 2014.
The lack of a true offensive identity which one the Seahawks their first ever Lombardi in franchise history was coupled with one of the worst offensive lines in the league and a defence not in sync has the Seahawks trapped in a downward momentum.
Perhaps the most damning criticism of Carroll came to light this off-season. Seattle Seahawks icon and all-pro cornerback Richard Sherman was released, to make matters worse for Seahawk fans, Sherman joined the promising division rivals- San Francisco 49ers. Following Sherman’s departure the always opinionated and vocal cornerback shed some light on the coaching methods of Pete Carroll on Uninterrupted’s ‘The Thomahawk Show’ podcast.
“A lot of us have been there six, seven, eight years… we had kind of heard all his stories, every funny anecdote that he had.”
Sherman was not the only casualty of a drastic defensive overhaul. Michael Bennett, a pro bowl defensive lineman, was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles this past off-season. A move which raised many eye-brows. Bennett echoed Sherman’s statement about Carroll, per ESPN’s Brady Henderson. Bennett told Sports Illustrated that “he’d read books during team meetings last year because he’d already heard whatever Pete Carroll was saying”.
Both Sherman’s and Bennett’s words paint a damning picture of Carroll as a dithering old man, recounting old stories over and over and over again. A far cry from the energetic, mad scientist type figure we saw roaming the sideline every Sunday getting the most out of his players. These quotes do pose the inevitable, yet painful question- is this the end for Pete Carroll and the dynasty that never was?
That question brings me back to what may become to be known as the beginning of the end for coach Pete Carroll. Seahawks down by four, 25 seconds left, 2nd & Goal, Russell Wilson drops back to pass. Interception. Patriots win. Seahawks lose.