Most people know Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, entering his third year with the club as coach and executive vice president, as the former USC head coach who has put up a 15-19 record in Seattle, including playoffs.
Of course, that is the “what have you done for me lately” description of Carroll, but since he was hired by USC in December 2000, it is an accurate description on the surface. But Carroll’s underwhelming record in Seattle undermines what he has been able to do at the end of his first two seasons.
The 2010 Seahawks won the less-than-impressive NFC West with a losing record, defeating the St. Louis Rams in the season finale to earn a home playoff game against the defending champion New Orleans Saints.
In what was Matt Hasselbeck‘s final home game, the Seahawks upset the Saints 41-35, highlighted by RB Marshawn Lynch‘s 67-yard fourth quarter TD run and Hasselbeck’s outstanding performance (22/35, 272 yards, 4 TDs, 1 INT).
The Seahawks would be eliminated by the Chicago Bears the following week 35-24 after Lynch was held to two yards of total offense.
Last year, I thought the Seahawks were going to be one of the worst teams in the NFL due to their lack of talent on both sides of the ball. Seattle started 2-6, unsurprisingly.
But the defense continued to grow, the offense evolved to feature Lynch, and the Seahawks won five of six of mid-season contests before losing their final two tests against the division champs San Francisco 49ers and on the road in overtime to the Arizona Cardinals.
This season, Pete Carroll will try to make a playoff push with a new QB in Matt Flynn under center and an unconventional draft headlined by first-round pick Bruce Irvin, which was intended to bolster an already pretty rock-solid defense.
Sure, Carroll and company will have the defending NFC West champions in their way, along with the two other teams that could make things interesting in Arizona and St. Louis. Perhaps even more interesting is the other division on the team’s schedule in 2012—the AFC East.
Seattle hasn’t faced the AFC East teams since 2008.
Since then, only New England has the same head coach, and even the Patriots played that season with Matt Cassel calling the plays under center due to Brady’s knee injury.
Unfamiliarity won’t matter to Pete Carroll and Seattle.
As I lay out the Seahawks’ interconference schedule, you’ll gain an understanding of two things:
- Carroll’s ancient NFL history.
- Some serious revenge factors for a coach that doesn’t lack for points of inspiration.
Sunday, October 14 vs. New England Patriots
After running a dominant unit as the 49ers defensive coordinator in 1995 and 1996, Pete Carroll was hired to replace Bill Parcells as head coach of the reigning AFC champion New England Patriots. Carroll won 10 games and a playoff game in 1997, then was one and done in the postseason following a 9-7 record in 1998.
But the Patriots missed the playoffs with an 8-8 record in 1999 and Robert Kraft made a difficult decision in firing Carroll. Being that Kraft hired Bill Belichick to replace Carroll, I’m sure Kraft got over it after the first Super Bowl victory.
Carroll will get to face the man who replaced him in New England for his most recent NFL job this season.
(Side note: After writing Patriots articles for three years (2009-2011) for NFL Touchdown, I won’t get to cover the Patriots’ NFC West games—hence—the Gridiron Grit articles covering the NFC West teams. But I believe Seahawks-Patriots is the most exciting NFC West game the Patriots have because of Pete Carroll. Even more exciting than the Cardinals (James Sanders), Rams (Super Bowl XXXVI rematch) and 49ers (Randy Moss/Mario Manningham/Brandon Jacobs)!
Sunday, November 11 vs. New York Jets
After serving as the Minnesota Vikings’ defensive backs coach from 1985-1989, Carroll’s first job as a defensive coordinator in the NFL came in 1990 under new head coach Bruce Coslet.
After a collapse to end the 1993 season, Coslet was fired and Pete Carroll was elevated to head coach of the Jets for the 1994 season. After a 31-21 victory over the Vikings that year, the Jets improved to a record of 6-5.
But Carroll’s club collapsed, losing its final five contests. He was fired unceremoniously, as Gang Green removed the basketball court in the parking lot that Carroll and his staff would play on during the week. Since beating the Vikings in 1994, the Jets would win only four of their next 37 games, marking the nadir period of franchise history (thanks, Rich Kotite).
It was in New York that Carroll would first be criticized for his overenthusiastic approach to coaching.
Sunday, November 25 @ Miami Dolphins
You might be wondering which team started the demise of Carroll’s Jets in 1994. Jets fans, and Pete Carroll, might not want to view this clip. Week 13, at the Meadowlands, the Jets were hosting the 7-4 Miami Dolphins for a shot at first place in the division.
The Jets, led by QB Boomer Esiason, took a 10-0 halftime lead and had leads of 17-0 and 24-6 in the third quarter. Dolphins QB Dan Marino bought the Dolphins within 24-21 when Esiason threw his second INT of the game. Marino led Miami down the field, and with about 30 seconds left, motioned to fake spike on the Jets’ 8 yard line.
Only, when Marino got the shotgun snap, he executed the “clock play” game—a quick strike to WR Mark Ingram for a TD. The Dolphins would go on to prevail 28-24, as well as taking home the AFC Eastern division crown. Pete Carroll’s team never recovered from the meltdown at the hands for Marino and Miami.
Sunday, December 16 @ Buffalo Bills (in Toronto)
Of all of his connections in the AFC East, this one is probably Carroll’s least testy. However, he did get his start in the NFL as a defensive backs coach on Kay Stephenson’s 2-14 Buffalo Bills squad.
The club surrendered 32 touchdown passes that season, second-worst in the NFL. Six of which came against Marino combined in two games, though Buffalo did manage to pick him off three times in the process in the second meeting.
Also check out “Seahawks 2012 Season Highlighted By Three Games in Primetime.”
Carroll will definitely have an interesting challenge doing battle these four teams from the AFC East. Of course, it would help if the contests are as thrilling as the “clock play” game and if he’s leading a winning team.
On the surface, his past will motivate him and in turn, motivate his team while preparing for these four foes. But in reality, if Carroll wants to have a comfortable future in Seattle, he might want to at least break even against the AFC East.
Aside from the NFC West, these four matchups will go a long way in defining the success of his 2012 Seahawks team.