JOHN CLAYTON

Clayton: How a big week reshapes future of Seahawks and NFC West

Jan 16, 2021, 9:30 AM
Seahawks Russell Wilson...
Russell Wilson's Seahawks aren't the only NFC West team looking for a new coordinator. (Getty)
(Getty)

What an interesting week for the Seahawks and the NFC West.

Offseason Primer: Seahawks’ player and coaching decisions for ’21

It started with John Schneider getting a contract extension as Seahawks general manager through the 2027 draft. With Pete Carroll getting a five-year extension in 2020, this winning duo can continue the ability to stay in the yearly playoff race and somehow get back to the Super Bowl. The big thing is that Carroll and Schneider will work together while Russell Wilson remains in his prime. Wilson wants to play past his 40s, but at least Carroll and Schneider have him while he is still at his best.

There was an expected big loss for the San Francisco 49ers, the team losing defensive coordinator Robert Saleh to the New York Jets as he becomes their new head coach. Saleh will bring Mike LeFleur from the 49ers staff to be his offensive coordinator. Saleh, who had been on Pete Carroll’s staff in Seattle from 2011-13, is a great coach. He gives the Jets a great defensive mind who can work his job like a CEO. He managed a defense that lost so many players to injuries and the virus in 2020, but that group played well.

What you wonder is if he’ll try to bring Richard Sherman to the Jets. Sherman is a big fan of Saleh and the Jets have virtually nothing at cornerback. Sherman has already gone on the record saying he doesn’t expect the 49ers to be able to re-sign him. He knows the Niners will put their money on trying to re-sign Trent Williams, Fred Warner and Kyle Juszcyk. Still, you wonder if Sherman would want to go all the way to New York having spent his life on the West Coast.

Sherman can still play at a Pro Bowl level but he missed most of the 2020 season with injuries. Plus, he could be a valuable candidate for broadcasting jobs.

Brad Holmes isn’t a well-known name around the NFL, but he and Les Snead have done such a great job of drafting and keeping the Rams in the Super Bowl run after they lost so many defensive starters after going to the Super Bowl. Holmes added to the changes in the NFC West by accepting the general manager job with the Detroit Lions.

Due to a new rule in the NFL, the Rams and 49ers will receive third-round compensatory picks over the next two drafts because Saleh and Holmes are minorities who have been with their teams for years.

Back in Seattle, Schneider lost a top talent evaluator this week when Scott Fitterer accepted the general manager job with the Carolina Panthers. He’s a good one. Fortunately, Schneider is loaded with good evaluators and analytics experts despite the departure of Seattle’s Vice President of Football Operations.

Another big story was the firing of Seahawks offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. Schottenheimer did a good job for three years, but in a way his success at the beginning of the season might have cost him his job. The Seahawks opened the season against some bad defenses. He opened the season letting Russell Wilson cook. But facing tougher defenses in the second half of the season, the offense was cooked. Teams used Cover-Two zones with five coverage players underneath, limiting Wilson’s ability to complete passes he had been at the beginning of the season.

The Seahawks ended up passing the ball 59.8% of the time, and the number is really bigger because Wilson made more running plays when pass plays broke down.

It sure sounds as though the Seahawks could be getting an offensive coordinator from the Los Angeles Chargers. Former Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn has reportedly spoken to Pete Carroll about the position, and he could be a fit. He believes in running the ball, and when he was coordinator for the Buffalo Bills a few years go, he produced a top 10 running attack with LeSean McCoy. Another candidate is Chargers quarterback coach Pep Hamilton, who has a long history as a quarterbacks coach, a wide receivers coach and a head coach in the XFL.

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Stacy Rost’s Seahawks Q&A: Who’s in play for Seattle’s OC?

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