Hasselbeck: Why did Seahawks struggle to stick to winning formula?

Jan 12, 2022, 2:28 PM | Updated: 2:32 pm

Seahawks Pete Carroll Russell Wilson...

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll talks with Russell Wilson before a game against the Detroit Lions on Jan. 2. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The 7-10 season the Seahawks just finished was disappointing for the team and its fans, but there should be something to take away from the team’s seven wins, especially the two to close out their schedule.

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In the spirit of that, Wednesday morning on 710 ESPN Seattle’s Matt Hasselbeck Show, Mike Salk asked the legendary former Seahawks QB to finish a sentence in regards to Seattle’s season.

“The Seahawks were at their best this year when they…” posed Salk.

Responded Hasselback: “… were using the formula that Pete Carroll believes in – protecting the football, not turning it over, being balanced, dominating the line of scrimmage, competing at every opportunity. Ball’s on the ground, we’re competing; ball’s in the air, we’re competing. If his formula is not the DNA of your team, then the formula is no good.”

That begs a question, though. If the Seahawks were most successful during the 2021 season adhering to a philosophy their coach since 2010 favors, why did they struggle to stick to that winning formula? Salk broached the topic with Hasselbeck.

“One of the things we’ve sort of talked about is how at times it feels like, whether it’s in personnel or in play calling, they’ve almost gotten away from some of that philosophy at times,” Salk said. “And I know there are some in Seahawks fandom out there who want Pete to abandon some of that philosophy, but I think the other argument is that there are times it seems, whether it’s in some of the players they brought in or in some of the play calls they make, etc., they’re almost compromising with it too much.”

To answer that, Hasselbeck had a theory related to his one season playing under Carroll, which was Carroll’s first in Seattle after a stellar tenure coaching at USC, though he cautioned that he’s not around the current-day Seahawks enough to say it definitively.

“I’m really not there, but I would say that when Pete came in, as a group he brought so many people with him from USC, that everyone was together and they’d had years together,” Hasselbeck said. “And they all knew – like, I didn’t need to ask the question to Pete Carroll to get the answer that Pete Carroll was going to say. I could go to the strength coach, I could go to the O-line coach, I could go to the linebackers coach – they all would know how Pete would answer the question.”

The Seahawks’ coaching staff has gone through a lot of changes since then, and the most notable recent change would be the move to Shane Waldron as offensive coordinator. That’s particularly relevant here as the Seahawks’ offense struggled with consistency in their new OC’s first year, but a familiar style led by a strong running attack that successful Carroll teams tend to feature started to appear as Seattle finished the season with four wins over its last six games. So perhaps it was a matter of the offensive coaches and personnel taking 13 games – with the added difficulty of Russell Wilson’s midseason finger injury thrown in for good measure – to get all the pieces together.

“When you do have a lot of coaching turnover like they have had, and player turnover, after a while you look around and not everybody in the building understands (Carroll’s philosophy),” Hasselbeck said. “… Little things that I think (Carroll) brought from a winning culture at USC to our team (in 2010) – it was kind of a, ‘Whoa, hey, yeah, you’re right. That’s not us. We’re not going to be that.’ And then when you have all this turnover, it’s sort of hard to keep everybody on message the same way that he did initially, I think.”

You can hear this week’s full Matt Hasselbeck Show, including tons more on the Seahawks’ season and a look ahead to the start of the NFL postseason, in the podcast at this link or in the player below.

Further reading: Are the Seahawks as close to contending again as Carroll says?

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