Former Seahawks running back and seven-year assistant coach Sherman Smith said he was essentially fired by coach Pete Carroll. Interviewed on ESPN 710 radio Friday, Smith, 62, was contemplating retirement, but said he was surprised that Carroll said in a Jan. 17 meeting it was it was time for a change in the unit that fell off its usual production in 2016.
“We went in and had a meeting, Pete just started talking about he thought it was time about making a change,” Smith said. “It surprised me because I thought I would be the one more or less leading the conversation, either saying I hadn’t decided to retire yet or I’m going to coach another year. But I didn’t think it would be him saying, ‘I want to make a change.’
“You take with that evidently they are not happy with the job I’m doing. But he said that wasn’t it, he just wanted to make a change.’’
Smith, hired by Carroll shortly after his 2010 arrival in Seattle, was replaced by his assistant for the past two seasons, Chad Morton, 39. Smith was an initial member of the Seahawks expansion franchise in 1976, playing for six years, rushing for 3,429 yards on 810 carries.
In a later meeting, Smith said Carroll offered to have Smith stay on staff in a different role, but he declined.
“In a sense, the goal was change,’’ Smith said. “I think (Carroll) just wants more of that run-around type of energy that I can’t give. Heck, I’m 62 years old. I don’t run around like I did when I was 32. So I think that was important to him, and that’s where he went. I may not like it, but that’s his decision and I’m fine with it.”
Talking about the past season when the running game had injuries and a young line, ranked 25th in the NFL at 99.4 yards a game, Smith also confirmed what many believed was the case: The ferocity of retired RB Marshawn Lynch covered a multitude of mistakes.
“Teams came in this year saying, ‘I’m glad we don’t have to deal with Marshawn,’” Smith said. “He brought that intimidation factor, brought that awareness factor that this is a guy that you have to contend with.”
Smith remained upbeat on the future of Lynch’s successor, Thomas Rawls, who was injured twice in 2016.
“That was no fluke what he did (in 2015),’’ Smith said. “The guy is a lot better than what people think he is, a lot faster, more elusive. I just think what he has to do sometimes, is free his mind up. I think he put a lot of pressure on himself last year, just the expectations that ‘OK, I’m the guy.’
“Thomas wanted to make the perfect cut every time. When he didn’t, he would get frustrated. His rookie year he wasn’t worried about being the guy. He was just out there running and having fun.”
Smith was the third assistant to no longer remain with the team. Assistant defensive coach Rocky Seto left to join the ministry and LB coach Lofa Tatupu was said to be leaving coaching for now.