Pete Carroll is probably a controversial selection as a candidate for Coach of the Year, particularly as it means I’m not focusing on Sean Payton. That’s not to say Payton isn’t a candidate for the award, just as Sean McVay could still triumph at the NFL Honors ceremony. But Payton and McVay just seem so, well, predictable.
Carroll probably won’t win the award. Whilst the former USC coach led the Seattle Seahawks to double digit wins this season, the offence didn’t make for as entertaining watching for some compared to those at the LA Coliseum, the Mercedes Superdome and Arrowhead Stadium.
Carroll’s candidacy is more about the way he led the Seahawks to a 10-6 record despite the roster undergoing significant turnover this season. The defence lost many of its key members of the ‘Legion of Boom’ secondary: safety Kam Chancellor (medical/retirement); Richard Sherman (free agency to the 49ers); and Earl Thomas (injury). Whilst stars like Bobby Wagner remained, the team was starting a lot of younger players who lacked the proven record of success of their predecessors.
Defensive statistics don’t really tend to reflect the job Carroll has done with this unit (the Seahawks ranked in the top 5 in the league for rushing touchdowns allowed and 11th in the league for sacks recorded), considering the loss of top tier talent. At the same time defensive end Frank Clark continued to demonstrate his impressive pass rush ability, finishing with 13 sacks for the season.
On offence, it’s a similar story. Despite the pretty vanilla hiring of offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, loss of red zone weapon Jimmy Graham, and prolonged period of absence due to injury of wide receiver Doug Baldwin, the Hawks were very productive.
They ranked first in the league in rushing averaging 160 yards per game behind the powerhouse running of Chris Carson who frequently gained additional yards after contact. This was aided by the frequent deployment of Seattle’s jumbo offensive line package featuring six linemen, enabling the former Super Bowl champs to bully opposing teams with their run game.
Carroll still needs to address the deficiencies in Seattle’s passing game, and after their offensive game plan against Dallas in the Wild Card Round a change at offensive coordinator may be on the cards, whilst the defense hasn’t reached the heights of his previous squads.
Nonetheless, whilst Carroll is not a more deserving selection than any of the other potential candidates covered previously, he deserves greater recognition for the job he has done this year in achieving a playoff place despite the doubts placed on his ability to do that in the offseason. The Seahawks have proven that they aren’t in a full scale rebuild, and Carroll deserves kudos for that.