The Seahawks on Tuesday officially announced hirings of new offensive and defensive coordinators and the firing of now-former defensive coordinator Kris Richard.
Officially completing the most significant changes to the coaching staff of the Pete Carroll era, the Seahawks on Tuesday announced they fired defensive coordinator Kris Richard and linebackers coach Michael Barrow while confirming the previously-reported hirings of offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, offensive line coach Mike Solari and defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr.
The firing of Richard clears up his status as its been thought the team was encouraging him to try to find a job elsewhere — he had a reported interview earlier for the head coaching vacancy of the Colts but hasn’t been considered a serious contender to get it.
Instead, he is being fired and the Seahawks are moving on with Norton — a part of the Seattle staff as linebackers coach from 2010-14 — as defensive coordinator.
Barrow had replaced Norton as linebackers coach in 2015 when Norton left to become the DC of the Raiders — Barrow had also added the title of assistant head coach/defense last year.
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The announcements officially solidify the major positions on Seattle’s coaching staff heading into the offseason. There could be more changes to other parts of the staff but the big three jobs that had been speculated about have now all been settled.
Seattle’s statement did not include comments from Carroll, so for now the reasoning behind the moves is left to outsiders, though staff changes were undoubtedly coming following a 9-7 season in which the Seahawks missed the playoffs for the first time since 2011.
While the Seahawks have had at least some change to its coaching staff every year, this is the first time Carroll has changed both coordinators at once — and both due to firing.
Bevell and Cable had been in their same roles since 2011 and Seattle has changed defensive coordinators previously only when Gus Bradley (2013, Jacksonville) and Dan Quinn (2015, Atlanta) got head coaching jobs.
Richard succeeded Quinn, picked at the time by Carroll as the DC instead of Norton, which then compelled Norton to take the same position with the Raiders. Richard had gotten significant vocal endorsements for the DC job from the likes of Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor, who he had groomed while working with the defensive backs from 2010-15.
But the long-term futures of all of the core members of the LOB (Sherman, Chancellor, Earl Thomas) is uncertain and the defense has slipped the last two years — admittedly, age and injuries playing a significant role — and it’s thought Carroll may have just wanted a different, if familiar to the players, voice overseeing the defense as it heads into what could be a rather large transition.
Richard had been an assistant with Carroll at both USC and the Seahawks since 2008 and also played for Carroll at USC in 2001, and one source indicated his firing was going to be a particularly hard decision for Carroll.
One thought is that Carroll wanted Richard, who is 38, to get some experience working in a different environment — it had been reported the team would let him out of his contract if he found another job.
The firing of Richard means there are now just eight assistants who have been with the Seahawks and Carroll since 2010 — receivers coach Dave Canales, head strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle, tight ends coach Pat McPherson, assistant offensive line coach Pat Ruel, special teams coach Brian Schneider, quarterbacks coach Carl Smith, assistant strength and conditioning coach Mondray Gee and assistant strength and conditioning coach Jamie Yanchar.
There have been rumors about the status of Smith this year. But indications are that he could remain on the Seattle coaching staff in some capacity, if not as the quarterbacks coach.
The firing of Barrow also means the Seahawks are looking for a new linebackers coach. John Glenn was promoted to assistant linebackers coach before last season when former Seattle player Lofa Tatupu left after two seasons to devote more time to his family. Given that Tatupu voluntarily gave up his role it’s not considered he’d be a candidate. The team could promote Glenn or look for someone else to fill that spot if needed.
Another former NFL linebacker — former Viking and Seahawk Heath Farwell — is also on the coaching staff, working this year as an assistant special teams coach.
The announcement of the firing of Bevell and Cable came last Wednesday, with the news of the hiring of Schottenheimer emerging on Saturday and the hirings of Solari and Norton on Monday — a fairly rapid alteration of the core of the team’s coaching staff.
The moves come with Carroll, who will turn 67 next September, entering the final two years of his contract with the Seahawks, and the success of the changes announced Tuesday figure to go a long way toward determining Carroll’s long-term future with the Seahawks — one source said both Schottenheimer and Solari were at the top of Carroll’s list from the start and that while rumors circulated of the team being interested in some other coaches, Carroll got the two men he most wanted.
Also running out in two years if the contract of quarterback Russell Wilson, who could hit free agency following the 2019 season at the age of 30.
Bevell had been the only offensive coordinator of Wilson’s career. Now officially comes in Schottenheimer, who was offensive coordinator with the Jets from 2006-11, working with the likes of Chad Pennington, Brett Favre (at age 39 in 2008) and Mark Sanchez, and three years with the Rams from 2012-14, when his quarterbacks included Sam Bradford.
But the overall goal of the changes is designed most at getting the Seahawks back to the style Carroll wants to play, as he made clear during his end-of-season press conference on Jan. 2.
“We have a real formula of how we win and we have been unable the last two years to incorporate a major aspect of that and it’s running the football the way we want to run it,” he said. “I think you see tremendous examples around the league of teams who have turned their fortunes around and they have turned it around in a formula that I think should sound familiar to you. But teams running the football. Teams playing good defense and doing the kicking game thing. That is the formula that has proven historically the best in this game. We have been committed to that from the start but unfortunately we have not been able to recapture it the way that we have in years past.”
Tuesday revealed both the men Carroll is entrusting to get that job done, and the price to be paid when the team comes up short.