Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll joined John Clayton on 710 ESPN Seattle Thursday, fresh off of speaking to reporters for the first time this offseason at the NFL Combine.
The Seahawks made their most drastic coaching moves yet since Carroll and general manager John Schneider took over in 2010. The team parted ways in January with longtime offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, offensive line coach Tom Cable, and defensive coordinator Kris Richard.
“I just felt like it was time to shake up some stuff just so we could get new outlooks,” Carroll told Clayton. “I want to make sure that I’m continuing to feel challenged by what we’re doing and how we’re going about it. I want to make sure to continue to challenge the players as well as the other coaches. I think every now and then it’s just important. I loved the guys on our staff and I always will. So that makes the decisions difficult. But really, the choice to compete is too important. So we’re going to make the best of it.”
Seattle signed former Indianapolis quarterbacks coach Brian Schottenheimer as offensive coordinator, and former Giants offensive line coach Mike Solari to replace Cable. Ex-Seahawks linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. assumed the defensive coordinator role, a position he most previously held with the Raiders.
The team did some additional reshuffling with their assistant coaching positions. Wide receivers coach Dave Canales will be quarterbacks coach. Former quarterbacks coach Carl Smith transitioned to associate head coach. The team also promoted former assistant wide receivers coach Nate Carroll to wide receivers coach.
“I love the way the energy is around our building right now,” Carroll said. “I love the energy that I’m feeling about the growth and the challenge to make the decisions. We’re not going to look that much different now. That’s not going to happen. But I’m hoping the interactions and communication, that the personal challenges and motivational opportunities that we have with our guys, will be stirring. I’m counting on that.”
How much will Seattle’s scheme change?
Carroll said there will be a few changes under the new coordinators, but not drastic ones.
“With Mike Solari, what we do up front is a little different,” Carroll said. “We’ve been a real dominant zone running team, and we’re going to continue to do that. But we’re going to do some other things, too. So we’ll vary our (attack) a little bit more than we have… that’s what Mike’s background brings us, and that was real exciting to me. Knowing Mike from years back, knowing his style and approach, it’s unique and it’s different than what we’ve had. And I think that’s good for our guys. Plus, the background that he has with Brian (Schottenheimer), their ability to communicate was really important. I got a chance to have those guys visit together early in the process and that helped me understand what we were putting together. I’m really fired up about it.”
Carroll said Schottenheimer will have a strong presence, and more direct communication, with quarterback Russell Wilson.
“He’s going to be in the quarterback room every day and at the point of the drills every day. And that’s how he likes doing it, and that was a big factor to me. I wanted to connect the playcaller with the quarterback.”
Ken Norton ‘one of my favorite guys for years’
Carroll seemed especially excited about the return of former Seattle linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr., who was a critical part in the development of Pro Bowl linebackers Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright.
“I love getting Kenny back,” Carroll said. “He’s just been one of my favorite guys for years. His impact with players and what he stands for, a great competitor and a leader, is all but unsurpassed. (Wagner and Wright) are really excited for him coming back, for the right reasons, as I am. It’s been fun having him in the building. He really makes everybody better.”
As with Schottenheimer and Solari, Carroll stressed changes to the defense under Norton will be subtle.
“I’ve never been very far away from what we’re doing on defense, and I’m not going to be now. I hope to be as critical as ever. So, I’m really looking forward to seeing the result of all of that, and really glad to bring him to these players in that meeting room.”
Carroll also talked about All Pro cornerback Richard Sherman’s recovery from two surgeries, and his hopes for the return of defensive stars Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril. Listen to Carroll’s entire interview with John Clayton here.