The Seahawks are now in need of a new offensive coordinator after parting ways with Brian Schottenheimer on Tuesday.
The wording in the tweet from Seattle’s official team account is notable.
“Citing philosophical differences, we have parted ways,” the post read.
Ok, then. Let’s try to make sense of this.
That phrasing sounds more like a mutual decision rather than a man being relieved of his duties. Adam Schefter confirmed as much, reporting that Carroll and Schottenheimer met on Monday night and came to the conclusion that a fresh start was best for both sides. And there’s good reason for why Schottenheimer would want out of Seattle given the events of the last several days.
Let’s start with Saturday, a game in which the Seahawks offense got comprehensively whooped by the Rams defense in the 30-20 Wild Card loss. That primarily falls on Schottenheimer. But you surely remember that crucial 4th-and-1 situation in the fourth quarter with Seattle trailing by 10 points. After Damien Lewis' injury on third down, the Seahawks had roughly two-and-a-half minutes in real time to come up with a play call.
And yet, Wilson and the offense broke the huddle with about five seconds left on the play clock and ultimately were penalized for a back-breaking false start. We then learned on Monday that the root of that penalty was because Pete Carroll was “fighting the (play) call a bit,” he shared on 710 ESPN Seattle.
That means, with the season on the line, in a moment where Schottenheimer was tasked with picking the singular play he felt gave Seattle the best chance to convert, Carroll stepped into the kitchen and vetoed.
Imagine dealing with that sort of micromanaging at any point, let alone under those levels of pressure and consequence.
Carroll also admitted to seeing the play clock winding down and choosing not to call timeout. He said multiple times that he was just fine punting in that scenario.
Set aside whether or not you cared for Schottenheimer. Many didn't, of course. You may have been among those who wanted him gone and this is good news to you.
But he was still Seattle’s OC and the chief offensive expert on the coaching staff. Those are the moments that define you as a professional, and he had the ball taken out of his hands.
Ask yourself whether that’s a situation you’d want to return to.
Additionally, Carroll admitted to adjusting the offense himself in the second half of the season in order to make the Seahawks more conservative and allow for better ball security. That means Saturday’s fourth down blunder may have been a tipping point to a more deep-rooted issue that had begun months prior.
Lastly, but certainly not least, Carroll emphatically expressed his desire to run the ball more effectively and more frequently in 2021. It sure didn't sound like a coach who intended on working with his OC in order to find a proper solution to Seattle’s offensive woes and improve collaboratively. It sounded much more like a “Carroll's way or the highway” scenario. Carroll also indirectly indicted Schottenheimer (and others) by saying “We lingered in the glow of the first half of the season” as a rationale for why offensive adjustments weren’t made sooner and more successfully.
Maybe Carroll had already made up his mind prior to Monday night's meeting that Schottenheimer needed to go. But it would hardly be surprising if Schottenheimer heard all that and said, “Yep, I’m good. I don’t need to deal with this anymore.”
And that’s why criticizing Schottenheimer, or Darrell Bevell for that matter, is always such an ambiguous task. How much of Seattle’s shortcomings are on the OC, and how much of it is Carroll forcing his will on how the offense will operate? It’s unclear exactly how much freedom and creativity any OC is allowed when it gets outside the framework of Carroll’s philosophies.
Which leads us to the most pressing question: How much does this news ultimately matter and how will it impact the Seahawks in 2021 and beyond?
Some worthy candidates might not want the job given Carroll’s oversight and vision, even with the allure of working with Russell Wilson. Others will be handpicked to execute Carroll’s vision.
This isn’t to suggest Schottenheimer was flawless or didn’t deserve to be on the hot seat. Wanting to go a different direction offensively is justified following the failure that occurred in the Wild Card Round. But with that, there's a need for fans to set expectations for what comes next.
The moral of the story is this: Until Pete Carroll removes himself from the offense, the acumen and ability of any future OC will continue to be diluted, at least to a certain degree.