BY Art Thiel 04:49PM 01/12/2018

Thiel: Coaches can be good, gone at same time

Doug Baldwin saluted Darrell Bevell and Tom Cable as men and mentors. But Pete Carroll knows the only way to stay ahead of being ordinary is to start with pain and loss.

Doug Baldwin said he owes a lot to fired coaches Darrell Bevell and Tom Cable. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

As most in the Seahawks fan base celebrate the firing of assistant coaches Darrell Bevell and Tom Cable, WR Doug Baldwin brought up something about the pain of breaking up the Super Bowl gang.

It’s hard to be objective about the people in your life who first believed in you.

The Seahawks still have a small number of players from the 2013-14 seasons who thrilled Seattle fans and delighted many others in the NFL with equal parts talent, toughness and brashness. Much of the charm came from the low-round draftees and undrafted free agents who were integral in the success despite the absence of a gleaming football pedigree.

Many of us have had in school or the workplace an experience similar to what players felt at that time when you realized the teacher/boss/coach you admired came to believe in you.

It’s not something readily talked about, but if you ask, most people can recall vividly the moment, the circumstances and the feelings when the mentor, by word and deed, signaled your legitimacy.

Baldwin, on ESPN’s First Take show Thursday, was the first player to speak about coach Pete Carroll’s decisions to fire the offensive coordinator and the line coach after seven mostly successful seasons. He carefully avoided passing judgment on the decisions, but talked about the two people who believed in him.

“They were great human beings in the time that I got to know them,” he said. “They were great people. I really enjoyed my time with them and got to know them as human beings, as men. They really helped me, and Russell Wilson, obviously, in our development, so they’re part of that.

“You take a third-round quarterback who a lot in the media said was too short to play the position, a receiver (Baldwin) who they said was too short to play the position — undrafted, at that — and we went out there and played some spectacular football for a stretch.

“So I give a lot of credit to Darrell Bevell and to Tom Cable for their work, their development of players that they had that was available to them. They did an extraordinary job . . . Bevell was our offensive coordinator when we broke every record that the Seahawks had offensively, so there’s a lot to be said for that.”

Baldwin owes a big part of his standing in 2017 as one of the NFL’s top 100 players (as voted by players) to the patient development work by Carroll, Bevell and Cable. Of course he would be gracious and supportive of them. That doesn’t make him wrong about the contributions of Bevell and Cable to the greatest run in club history.

By the same token, it doesn’t make Carroll wrong in letting them go. The two positions are not mutually exclusive.

Sometimes events overtake the best people and plans.

Aside from any behind-the-scenes personal drama that has not been publicly known to exist, Bevell and Cable are the same guys who were hired by Carroll in 2011 to collaborate on the offense while Carroll oversaw the defense.

Bevell was the OC and Cable was the line coach, with the additional title of assistant head coach. In the tandem’s first year, the Seahawks opened with the third-youngest O-line in the NFL, and in the season’s second half, had 1,202 rushing yards, fifth in the NFL in that span.

Then in 2012, they came upon Wilson in the third round of the draft, one of the most unusual, dynamic athletes not only in football, but in all of American team sports. Subsequent events established that in Wilson and RB Marshawn Lynch, Seattle had in the same backfield two massive outliers that made the offense harder to defend than any team in the NFL.

Lynch and Wilson made up for deficiencies in the line, but not in the spectacular way that most of us remember their greatest plays. One of Lynch’s lesser appreciated virtues was the remarkable ability to convert an imminent three-yard loss into a two-yard gain. Similarly, Wilson had a knack for converting a potential sack into a five-yard scramble rush.

The individual feats were a combination of instinct and intellect beyond the reach of coaching as well as defenses.

Then Lynch became hurt and unmanageable, and left. Wilson remained, and good as he was, became less efficient late in 2017. The cumulative psychic impact of two years of thumpings and the belief that he had to be Superman every game, instead of getting time off as Clark Kent, compromised his play.

The offensive output of the December games, particularly the losses to to the Rams and Cardinals, was so abysmal that the Seahawks, despite a still-valiant, wounded defense, were reduced to ordinariness.

Sure, if kicker Blair Walsh does his job, the Seahawks are 12-4. But they still would have finished the season 15th in offensive yardage and 11th in defensive yardage (13th in points allowed).

Ordinary.

A 12-4 finish, aided by a soft schedule, would have kept Bevell and Cable in their jobs. But that would have delayed a reckoning that the Seahawks’ shortcomings overtook the coaching staff’s ability to devise a renaissance with many of the same players.

If the rumors prove true that Carroll would like to see defensive coordinator Kris Richard move on to another job so he can avoid firing his longtime protege, the Seahawks will have two new coordinators and likely many new assistants.

Carroll’s seven-year Seattle coaching tenure is tied with Jason Garrett of Dallas as the seventh-longest in the NFL. Nearly all of the guys ahead of him — Bill Belichick, Marvin Lewis (?), Mike McCarthy, Sean Payton, Mike Tomlin and John Harbaugh — have done what he’s trying to do.

Stay ahead of being ordinary.

A proven way to do that is to draw fresh eyes to problems unseen or unmanaged by the founders of the empire. At the moment, after the firings and before the hirings, it’s impossible to know how that is going.

We do know it starts with pain and loss. As Rick Blaine says to Ilsa in Casablanca, “We’ll always have Paris.” Then he turns to his one-time rival:  “Louie, I think this is the start of a beautiful friendship.”

Another reason Casablanca is the best football movie ever.

 


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YourThoughts

  • Ron

    Seahawks have been stagnating the last three years. Our NFC West opponents have improved and change was needed to keep up with the Joneses.

    • John M

      Agreed, and perhaps on defense also if the rumor about Richards is true. Ironically, the defense is (I think) mostly Pete’s, and maybe he thinks that should finally become a bit more dimensional . . .

      • art thiel

        I think Carroll is seeking a fresh voice on D that is free of the baggage built from the SB successes and subsequent shortcomings. A coach who hasn’t been through it may be better able to see bad habits and patterns.

  • 1coolguy

    Well done with a difficult subject Art

    • John M

      Eventually I knew we’d agree on something without a need for asterisks . . .

      • art thiel

        I’m misting up here at this harmony . . .

        • John M

          You coulda used “hill of beans” with this . . .

    • art thiel

      Thanks.

  • jafabian

    The NFL has had coaches over the years lose their job after being named COY the previous season. Bevell will be forever remembered for not having Lynch attempt a carry into the end zone in the final seconds of SB XLIX but gets no credit for leading the offense in racking up 43 points against the Broncos defense in the Seahawks only SB win the previous season. It’s a brutal business that takes no prisoners. Justin Britt so far is the only player to publicly disagree with the firings and he did so only by emoji.

    Even if the team finished 12-4 I’m not confident they would have gone to the SB or even the NFC Championship. Not with the problems on offense including the lack of a running game. At this point after so many consecutive playoff seasons maybe the team needs an early vacation to rest and heal.

    • art thiel

      No way would the Seahawks advance beyond 12-4. In December on offense, they were getting worse instead of better.

      And yes, it is a brutal business.

  • Theyfinallyfiredcable

    From today’s Seattle Times :

    “Whether it was identification or development — or more likely, some combination of both — the Seahawks simply didn’t get enough out of their offensive line drafts during Cable’s tenure.The only two Pro Bowl offensive linemen during Cable’s tenure were Unger and Okung, who were already part of the team when Cable arrived in 2011. Of the 15 linemen drafted during Cable’s tenure, only Justin Britt has sniffed a Pro Bowl berth, earning alternate status last year.”

    I’m sure the team liked Cable as a person just fine , although I’m equally as sure the assistant coach he punched when he coached the Raiders would disagree . Either way , it’s not a popularity contest and people need to be held responsible for their jobs , both on and off the field . There has to be some accountability is all I’m saying . If Ifedi can’t learn to stop causing penalties , bench him regardless of his 1st round draft status. The fact he’s a crappy right tackle doesn’t help his cause much either ..

    They cut bait with line coach , as was proper . Players should be held to that same standard .

    • Ron

      Cable has just been hired by Jon Gruden and the Raiders.

      • Theyfinallyfiredcable

        Perfect . Just curious – is the guy he punched in the face still there ?

        Well good luck to the Las Vegas Raiders and coach Cable . No , not really ..

        • Ron

          I don’t believe Randy Hanson is still in the NFL.

        • art thiel

          Cable is not the same guy he was as head coach in OAK. He knew he was wrong, learned a thing or two from Carroll, lost 136 pounds and as a person earned the respect of most everyone in Seattle.

      • art thiel

        Jon knows coaching talent, right?

    • art thiel

      Bob C’s story in the Times was a good compilation of the O-line whiffs, and Cable bears the lion’s share of the responsibility. The results of the past two seasons in terms of production weren’t acceptable.

  • John M

    The Casablanca met left us with just the right feeling, Art. As you more elegantly said, sometimes in biz you have to just look at the bottom line and make uncomfortable decisions. I would expect Pete will also do some introspection about some of his own in-game decisions . . .

    • art thiel

      For most things in life, a parable exists in Casablanca. Best script ever written.

  • coug73

    Players come and go, why not coaches? I suspect surprise player changes are coming and a fresh evaluation of players could help rebuild the roster.

  • It’s only Sports

    Tom Cable wasn’t without title but for a blink….reports out of Oakland are that Gruden snapped him up. So he will be working on the Raiders sideline when we clash with them in the London game.
    They are showing SEA as the away team in this one….how does the NFL determine which team to designate away/home and for the Raiders they are indeed reduced to 7 more home games? Is there financial incentive for accepting this arraignment of being the London home team?

    • Ron

      Per WIKIPEDIA:

      “Due to NFL rules, teams that are playing in temporary homes or that have recently been awarded the Super Bowl are required to play a home game internationally.
      Each designated home team receives US$1 million for giving up the home game.”

      Oakland is now considered to be a “temporary” home.

      • It’s only Sports

        So the I million offsets what they would lose in ticket revenue had it been played in Oakland.
        I should have known Wikapedia would have that info available. Thanks Ron.

      • It’s only Sports

        BTW Bleacher Report just broke news that SEA is set to sign Brian Shottenheimer new O.C. he is only 44 has been OC of the Rams from 2006~14 and before that the Redskins.

        • Ron

          NFL.com reported that so it must be true. But don’t trust Bleacher Report as they were wrong about Kris Richard and Carl Smith being fired because that hasn’t happened (yet).

          http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2753379-darrell-bevell-reportedly-fired-as-seahawks-oc-after-7-seasons-with-team

          • It’s only Sports

            True. NFL.com is an official NFL outlet ….as you mentioned…its a from the horse mouth thing with them….Bleacher Report is far too interested in scooping with little regard to being wrong.
            Danny Oniel reported yesterday that Carroll has encouraged Kris to get that head coaching job (presumably so he doesn’t have to fire his friend as Danny speculated). I’m sure it will all come out in the wash soon.
            Thanks again for the cross information.

          • art thiel

            Danny’s reporting is accurate.

          • art thiel

            It’s only a matter of time on Richard and Smith. New coaches around the league are assessing staffs.

          • Ron

            Looks like Kris Richard is no longer DC. Ken Norton Jr. is returning in that capacity.

            https://www.si.com/nfl/2018/01/15/ken-norton-seahawks-49ers-defensive-coordinator

    • art thiel

      See Ron’s answer below. Additionally, teams with the lowest annual attendance are NFL’s first choices, since the loss of home revs are less. Which explains Jacksonville.

      The Seahawks refused to give up a home game for London, but agreed to a road game if it were piggybacked onto a previous game in the ETZ to minimize travel woes.

  • phil2bin

    Rumor is that the Patriots’ coordinators will be gone after this season, too, so Cable and Bevell are in good company.

    • Effzee

      Except Cable and Bevell were fired, whereas the Pats coordinators are so good they are being hired away.

    • art thiel

      Big difference between leaving for a better job and being fired.