Head Coach: Pete Carroll
The one-time head coach of the USC Trojans enters his ninth season with the Seattle Seahawks and reached the playoffs in six of his eight seasons there. The team has long been known more for defense than offense. Carroll dismissed Darrell Bevell in January after his seven-year run as the offensive coordinator.
The Seahawks missed the playoffs last year and the offense ranked only average in all passing categories. The rushing effort was the league’s worst with a backfield that rushed for only 994 yards and one touchdown. Carroll’s background was all on the defensive side before becoming a head coach and Bevell took care of all offensive matters. For the first time since 2011, the offense will change.
Offensive Coordinator: Brian Schottenheimer
The 43-year-old Schottenheimer is the son of Marty Schottenheimer who coached the Chiefs for nine years. Brian’s resume has always been on the offensive side of the ball and he was largely a quarterbacks coach in college and the NFL until he had a run as an offensive coordinator for the New York Jets (2006-2011), St. Louis Rams (2012-2014) and Georgia Bulldogs (2015).
Schottenheimer was the quarterback coach for the Indianapolis Colts during 2016-2017. Unfortunately, Andrew Luck hasn’t played a full season since 2014 so Schottenheimer was forced to also rely on Scott Tolzien and Jacoby Brissett.
The six years with the Jets offense went through three seasons each with head coaches Eric Mangini and Rex Ryan. Chad Pennington and Mark Sanchez were the main starters but the Jets never produced better than average stats on offense. He took over the season after Curtis Martin left and rarely had the same primary back from year to year.
Schottenheimer was the offensive coordinator for the first three years that Jeff Fisher controlled the Rams. They remained in the bottom ten in most statistical categories as was common on a Fisher-led team. Once again, the quarterback situation was below average and the backfield was mediocre for those few barren years between Steven Jackson and Todd Gurley.
He’s consistently been on teams that featured top defenses and that did not focus as much on the offense. Working with Rex Ryan and Jeff Fisher meant trying to make do with below-average talent. Seattle could be yet another instance of directing the offense for a team that competes much more on the play of their defense.
Russell Wilson stepped up in 2015 to become a Top 10 passer with around 4,000 passing yards for each of those three seasons. He threw for 34 touchdowns in 2017 to rank No. 2 in the NFL. But the rushing offense collapsed once Marshawn Lynch aged and retired. In 2016, no back gained more than 469 rushing yards or had more than 117 carries. Last season, it was down to only 240 yards and one score for the top rusher. The Seahawks ranked dead last in rushing yards (994) by their running backs. The backfield only rushed in one touchdown all year.
The offensive line is the worst in the NFL for the last few years. That alone thwarted any chance for rushing success. The backfield remains a mess with Chris Carson, Mike Davis J.D. McKissic, C.J. Prosise, Thomas Rawls and Eddie Lacey (sure to be gone soon). The team has to address the line and backfield with free agents and rookies. Anything short of significant changes just means more of the same and Pete Carroll wants an improved rushing offense. It will be a surprise if the Seahawks don’t tab a running back in the first few rounds of the draft.
Schottenheimer was schooled in the Air Coryell school which means a power rushing scheme and a vertical passing offense. Russell Wilson shouldn’t see any decrease in his passing stats even though it is a much different than the West Coast style preferred by Darrell Bevell. Combining the scrambling ability of Wilson with deeper passes should pay dividends.
The expected departure of Jimmy Graham heightens the focus on Doug Baldwin and Paul Richardson as the two starting wideouts. Tyler Lockett should also see an increase from his usual 40-catch seasons since the tight ends will account for fewer passes in this scheme.
Schottenheimer is a long-time coach in the NFL and he yet hasn’t produced any top offenses. He’s saddled with the worst offensive line and backfield in the league so that will be a primary focus. There must be visible and credible changes to the offensive line. There must be obvious upgrades to the running backs. This is a rebuilding year and an entirely different offensive scheme is being installed.
The only players with a reasonable shot at maintaining or improving their stats from last year are Baldwin, Richardson, and Lockett. That should prop Baldwin up as a viable fantasy starter and Richardson could again flirt with weekly fantasy relevance. But early-season returns may be less impressive while the team gets up to speed with their first real offensive change in the last seven years.