The top choice in our ratings — Pete Carroll — is no surprise, but there is some debate after that.

Share story

While he’s busy making football history, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll is in no mood to reflect on it.

“There isn’t any time to do that right now,’’ Carroll said recently when asked if he’d stopped to consider the meaning of the latest of his many accomplishments with the Seahawks — winning a playoff game in four consecutive seasons.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t.

And if you put that postseason achievement on top of four consecutive 10-win seasons, two Super Bowl appearances in a row and one Super Bowl title, the case becomes clearer that Carroll is the best coach in Seahawks history.

Maybe one would argue that hasn’t really been in question for a while. Carroll has said consistency is the true hallmark of greatness.

And though the two other Seattle coaches in the discussion — Chuck Knox and Mike Holmgren — did not reach the ultimate goal, they achieved consistent success over a sizable period of time.

Knox’s Seahawks had a winning record all but one season from 1983 to 1990 and a string of four playoff appearances in five seasons (and winning 10 games in one of the seasons they didn’t make it, in 1986).

Holmgren’s teams won four consecutive division titles — still something Carroll hasn’t done — while averaging 10.2 wins from 2003 to 2007 along with reaching the franchise’s first Super Bowl.

But Carroll has longevity — he’s 60-36 in six years with the Seahawks — to go with a Super Bowl ring, all of which also earns him the top spot in our rating of the eight coaches the team has had in its 40 years.

Here is a look at each Seahawks coach, in order of our rating:

1. Pete Carroll

Years: 2010-present


What went right: Other than one call last February in Glendale, almost everything. Seattle has won three division titles and advanced to the postseason five times in six years. Carroll and general manager John Schneider have built a team that has a chance to be the NFL dynasty of this decade.

What went wrong: As good as this run has been, Seahawks fans can’t help but wonder how close the team was to winning Super Bowls in 2012 and 2014, as well. And what kind of history could the Seahawks be on the verge of if that had happened? The Seahawks need another title or two in the next few years to elevate from the litany of one-and-dones to the truly elite in NFL history.

Defining moment: A 43-8 Super Bowl win over Denver in which everything about the Carroll-era Seahawks was on display.

Final verdict: The greatest era in Seahawks history, though how great is still to be determined.

2. Mike Holmgren

Years: 1999-2008


What went right: Once Holmgren found his quarterback in Matt Hasselbeck, he gave the city what then was the best stretch in team history, winning nine or more games with five consecutive playoff appearances from 2003 to 2007.

What went wrong: A few bad calls in the Super Bowl, a defense that never quite matched the offense, and some personnel miscues (notably, losing Steve Hutchinson) that prevented the Seahawks from building on the momentum of 2005.

Defining moment: Backup quarterback Seneca Wallace’s catch that set up the first TD in the 2005 NFC title game win over Carolina, a play that perfectly encapsulated the offensive creativity of the Holmgren era.

Final verdict: Holmgren’s most important contribution might be reviving the NFL in Seattle after the stuck-in-the-muck ’90s.

3. Chuck Knox

Years: 1983-91


What went right: The Seahawks finally gained true credibility with four playoff appearances in six years from 1983-88 capped by the first division title, the AFC West, in 1988.

What went wrong: The Seahawks always seemed a player short at a key spot to truly get over the top. Also, Brian Bosworth.

Defining moment: The 1983 divisional playoff win at Miami, the first great coming-together of team and city, and probably the moment when the 12th man truly came to fruition (the No. 12 jersey was retired the following season).

Final verdict: Knox also built winners that fell a game or two short during stints at Los Angeles and Buffalo, many wondering what might have been had he ever had a truly elite QB.

4. Jack Patera

Years: 1976-1982

Record: 35-59

What went right: Don’t let the record of the team’s first coach fool you. Patera led the expansion Seahawks to respectability more quickly than anyone could have imagined, with 9-7 records in his third and fourth seasons, a game out of the playoffs each year.

What went wrong: Patera came to Seattle known as a defensive coach. But the Seahawks ranked 26th or worse on defense in five of his six full seasons before he was fired two games into the 1982 season.

Defining moment: A Monday night win at Atlanta highlighted by a pass from QB Jim Zorn to kicker Efren Herrera on a fake-field-goal attempt, a play that symbolized the freewheeling nature of the team in its early expansion years.

Final verdict: For four seasons, Patera was a winning hire, leading an entertaining and better-than-expected team. But he never really recovered from a nine-game losing streak to end the 1980 season.

5. Dennis Erickson

Years: 1995-98


What went right: It’s easy to forget now that Erickson restored some respectability after the 14-34 nightmare of the Tom Flores era, and he drafted Walter Jones.

What went wrong: Erickson’s first two seasons were marred by Ken Behring’s attempt to move the team, and his last two by maddening inconsistency.

Defining moment: Erickson might have gotten Seattle into the playoffs in 1998 — and maybe saved his job, meaning Holmgren never would have been hired — had the Jets’ Vinny Testaverde not been ruled to have gotten into the end zone when he was really about a yard short.

Final verdict: Ownership and quarterback issues didn’t do the lone Washington native to coach the team any favors.

6. Mike McCormack

Year: 1982, interim coach after Jack Patera was fired


What went right: McCormack, who had earlier coached the Eagles and Colts and was Seattle’s GM when the Seahawks fired Patera during the 1982 strike, righted the ship a little after the team had gone 6-21 to end the Patera era.

What went wrong: The strike year led to an odd team stat that figures to never be broken, as the Seahawks scored just nine points in the first quarter the entire season.

Defining moment: In McCormack’s first game the Seahawks won at Denver, Seattle’s first victory at Mile High Stadium.

Final verdict: Helped set the stage for the Knox success that began in 1983.

7. Jim Mora

Year: 2009


What went right: It started well enough with a 28-0 home win over St. Louis, and winning three of five at midseason had the Seahawks clinging to some playoff life.

What went wrong: Seattle lost three in a row late in the season by a 106-24 total score to end all hope of a successful year.

Defining moment: The lime green uniforms during a mistake-filled loss against Chicago in the third game of the season.

Final verdict: Mora didn’t get enough time to truly prove his worth with the Seahawks. But Carroll’s success also shows that maybe a clean break from the Holmgren era was what was needed at that time.

8. Tom Flores

Years: 1992-94


What went right: Very little for a nice man with two Super Bowl wins with the Raiders who coached the Seahawks as Behring began scheming to move the team.

What went wrong: Almost everything. Notably, scoring just 140 points in 1992, an NFL record low for a 16-game season.

Defining moment: A win at New England in 1992, which prevented the team from getting the No. 1 pick and drafting Drew Bledsoe. Instead, Seattle took Rick Mirer and created one of the biggest what-might-have-been moments in team history.

Final verdict: Flores’ Seattle stint was so bad that it undoubtedly has contributed to him not receiving serious Hall of Fame consideration despite winning two Super Bowls with the Raiders.