BY Art Thiel 03:15PM 01/12/2021

Thiel: Schneider gets 5-year contract extension

As other franchises engage in the ritual fires and hires, it’s a worthy time to appreciate the drama-free, front-office consistency of Pete Carroll and John Schneider.

GM John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll will stay together in Seattle. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

Recently I asked Pete Carroll on Zoom about whether there was someone or something he has relied upon when it comes time to fill vacancies on his Seahawks coaching staff. Since the NFL’s annual Black Monday of coach firings was pending, I figured it was a good time to learn about methods and practices.

I guessed Carroll might have a story from his two previous NFL head coaching stops, or USC, or had visited with some psychologist/oracle who provided bullet points on how to tell if someone is more or less likely to solve an insect infestation with a sledgehammer.

He seemed a bit surprised at the question, as if I had asked whether at dawn, the sky gets darker or lighter.

“No,” he said. “I don’t have anybody other than John I talk to, about everything. I mean, we just try to figure it out. I don’t know where I would go.”

He was talking, of course, about general manager John Schneider. Most Seahawks fans who’ve been around since 2010 understand that the degree of trust and collegiality between the franchise leaders has been an important part in sustaining franchise success.

But on the occasion of news Tuesday morning that Schneider had his contract extended through the 2027 draft, it seemed a good time to share Carroll’s response about hiring practices as an illustration of how most everyone, including Carroll and Schneider, probably take for granted something that has been almost impossible to replicate among other franchises in America’s favorite pastime, besides shopping.

Now, it’s entirely possible that behind the scenes, the two go at decision-making like two WWE clown-master rasslers, flying off turnbuckles to body-slam one another. Which, just like you, I would pay immense coin to watch. My guess is the franchise could erase the pandemic-induced financial losses in one main event: Big Two at the Loo.

But if that isn’t the case, it’s worthwhile to take a moment to appreciate the steadiness at the Seahawks helm. Since Carroll’s recent extension through 2025, that means the club has booked five years of continuity at a high level.

That doesn’t mean we all still can’t second-guess, nit-pick and tweet-storm every move and non-move they make. That’s a cottage industry in every NFL market, where games are played just once a week, leaving six days for losing fans to scream, Whatinhell-Were-You-Doing!?

When you think about it, it’s wonderful therapy. You dare not scream the question to bosses, spouses, parents, sibs, kids, cops or store clerks. Especially these days, when any one of them might believe that satanic bunnies directed by microchips are perched upon doorsteps, waiting for our sleep to nibble our souls.

But in Seattle, sports fans have a favorite team that smiles politely at the criticisms, snickers privately and goes on about its business, secure in the knowledge that secrets will be kept because there are no sides.

Consider that as you watch NFL clubs out of the playoffs make their fires and hires. Most times there’s some sort of palace intrigue that has coach against GM, GM against owner, veteran players lobbying for someone to stay or go, and all other manner of dyspepsia.

The 49ers for several years were a classic example of perpetual internal strife, like an Ottoman Empire sheikdom with coach Jim Harbaugh at its comedic center. But the hires of GM John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan have put out the fire, and helped them get to the Super Bowl.

Schneider’s current deal was up in 16 months, and Seahawks owner Jody Allen, along with Bert Kolde, the late Paul Allen’s longtime friend and vice president of the Seahawks, were aware of the rumors that the Detroit Lions were seeking his services for a franchise turnaround.

 

Planted or not, the rumors served their purpose, likely nudged along by Carroll.

With another team, Schneider likely would have been given keys to an empire, including final say on all football matters. That power rests in Seattle with Carroll. To stay, Schneider might have wrested away some bauble from Carroll, like a little brother’s first dibs on the Porsche convertible on Friday nights in a Seattle summer.

But they both seemed to have agreed that, after five division titles, two Super Bowls and one title in 11 years, their chances for big success were better together in Seattle than working apart at franchises where an owner needs a big helping of self-aggrandizement to supplement his or her wealth, which apparently is not the case with Jody Allen.

In a statement released by the club, she wrote, “For the last decade, John and head coach Pete Carroll have formed a tremendous partnership and the Seahawks have established a successful, unique, and truly winning culture respected throughout sports. I know we are all excited to see that continue.”

Regarding the hiring of assistants — at the moment, he has to replace his son, Brennan, who left his position as running-game coordinator to become the offensive coordinator under new coach Jedd Fisch at the University of Arizona — Carroll does consult with others.

“I’m constantly drawn to talking to people that I know well the people we’re dealing with, and to try to glean as much information as we can about an individual’s makeup, background, history, demeanor, mentality — all that kind of stuff,” he said. “Then there are coaches that I have faith in, known for a long time and really trust. I’ll listen to them carefully as well.”

Then it comes back to a check-in with Schneider. When they exchange headlocks, airplane spins and crack-backs.


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YourThoughts

  • BB46

    He must have given you that look figuring you had already heard about the OC job being open today. It would be believable,,, you are that good Art.

    • art thiel

      Hah. That “look” is available to all inquisitors, at all times.

  • LarryLurex70

    Why not reach out to Kiffin? Pete won’t be around forever. Might as well go with someone he’s familiar and has had success with. At least he’s never been boring, predictable, nor seemed in over his head as an OC.

    • Husky73

      I’m trying to think of someone worse than Kiffin……….nope, can’t think of anyone. Not even Neuheisel.

      • LarryLurex70

        As an OC? I think you’re wrong there. Admittedly, I think there’s a perception of the guy perhaps being slimy and a douchebag, but, he knows how to run an offense for Pete Carroll.

        • art thiel

          Your salty descriptors do count for something in a hire.

    • art thiel

      Carroll liked his dad, Monte, but I can’t imagine a worse fit in the pro game.

      • LarryLurex70

        I bet not many believed Carroll would be a good fit in the pro game when he was hired. And, as for the “salty descriptors”, it didn’t seem to be an issue when they were together in Los Angeles. I know people here prefer their sports figures scrubbed clean enough to bring home to meet the grandparents, but, at least with Kiffin, there’s likely not going to be any postmortem articles written about how they just weren’t on the same page. Unlike with the guy he/they just let go.

  • DB

    Scintillating commentary, Art. It was interesting during the final zoom press call that Pete was asked about who tells him the truth, calls him out, and coaches him up, -after he indicated he would be coaching his coaches a bit more in 2021. My take was that Pete’s comment about coaching his coaches a bit more was an echo of 2017, when the O-coordinators went away from his formula with the worst rushing offense in the league and they missed the playoffs. 12-4 will mitigate any bloodletting this time, I suppose. Anyway, he was quick to mention his sons, and JS as well as a couple other past coaches, so we got a little better answer this time.

    • DB

      I guess I was wrong about the bloodletting… Hadn’t heard about Shotty yet. -Guess the echo was more like a thunderclap…

    • art thiel

      The 2017 outcome had a lot to do with injuries on offense. Most of the time, the fate of an NFL OC rests on his relationship/effectiveness with the QB. We saw how that worked out.

  • jafabian

    Well deserved. We’ll see the next step now that Brian Shottenheimer is gone.

  • 2nd place is 1st loser

    For all the folks calling for Schottenheimers head. Keep in mind that Brian or whoever replaces him has a boss. And his boss is Pete Carroll, which by the way is ultimately responsible for every play that is called, offensively or defensively during every game. He is the so called captain of the ship and that comes with ultimate responsibility with all of the on field decisions. I guess the question is, was Brian not good enough to be an effective NFL offensive coordinator, or was Pete influencing his offensive game plan in a way that is different than what Brian wanted to do? Responsibility and accountability has to start at the top. Good luck to the new guy.

    • art thiel

      Carroll usually has been accountable. He’s well aware of the bromide you offered. I doubt he’ll anything publicly that diminishes Brian’s chance at another job.

  • Husky73

    Good move. Keep the owner, GM, head coach and QB in place.

    • art thiel

      A rare thing here, and in any market.

  • DJ

    Thanks Art – a well written and deserved tribute. We all are blessed to have such a pair at the helm, for which we can cite past local pro sports examples which were anything but.

    • art thiel

      Amazing how hard it is in pro sports to get two leaders to mesh. The George Karl/Wally Walker clash was an all-timer locally.

      • Husky73

        Barbara and Lambright…James and …..everyone. Piniella and…..everyone. Leach and humanity.

        • 1coolguy

          James and Lude were a tremendous pairing

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