BY Art Thiel 07:44PM 01/12/2021

Thiel: Rams’ game gets Seahawks OC the boot

As a consequence of the upset loss Saturday to the Rams that ended the postseason early, the Seahawks surprisingly “parted ways” with OC Brian Schottenheimer.

Brian Schottenheimer helped lead the Seahawks to the most points in club history. / Joshua Jones, Seattle Seahawks

While blame for the Seahawks’ early departure was widespread, one person paid for it with his job — offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer “parted ways” with the club, which announced what amounts to a firing Tuesday afternoon via Twitter.

The news was startling, given that coach Pete Carroll, when asked about staff changes following the unexpectedly limp 30-20 loss to the Rams Saturday that ended the season, said, “I’m counting on everybody coming back.” Schottenheimer also rates some credit for an offense that scored 459 points, most in club history.

But Carroll, in his seasonal post-mortem on Zoom Monday, indicated he wanted changes in the offense.

“We have to run the ball better,’’ Carroll said. “Not even better. We have to run it more. We have to dictate what’s going on with the people that we’re playing, and that’s one of the ways to do that.

“I know the fans aren’t really jacked about hearing that. But Russ knows it, too. We need to be able to knock (defenders) into the scheme that we want to throw at.”

In his three years in Seattle, Schottenheimer never seemed bashful about running the ball in pursuit of Carroll’s view of balance. The offense, based on total yards, ranked sixth, ninth and eighth in the NFL, and team regular-season wins grew from 10 to 11 to 12.

But a bad loss to the Rams, not unlike the 42-7 home defeat to LA in December 2017 that helped usher out Schottenheimer’s predecessor, Darrell Bevell, was the catalyst for change on a team that had big ambitions in 2020.

More to the point, QB Russell Wilson had terrible games in each Rams loss.

Sunday, he was 11 for 27 for 171 yards, and sacked five times. Three years ago, he was 14 for 30 for 142 yards and sacked seven times.

After the game, Wilson said he preferred a more up-tempo style to play catch-up, presumably suggesting, without naming names, that Schottenheimer was responsible.

“I think that teams know we throw it down the field well, but I think teams also fear our pace and our tempo,” Wilson said. “When the game is on the line, there’s 2:00 left in the game, teams obviously fear that because of the feeling of me going. That’s something along the way, you can kind of lose track of a little bit. I think we kind of lost track of that, maybe. I think that could have helped.”

Here’s the Sunday column that described a bit of the rift.

It is rare that Wilson even hints publicly that anyone or anything about the Seahawks is less than great. So his dismay at the playcalling rhythm is a shot into Schottenheimer’s wheelhouse.

In turn, Schottenheimer undoubtedly felt pressure from Carroll to zero out the turnovers. And what happened Sunday? A second-quarter playcall selection of a wide-receiver screen to DK Metcalf, a play done successfully several times this season but high-risk because it is undefendable if intercepted, ruined the game for Seattle.

Here’s how DB Darious Williams described his 42-yard return for a game-breaking touchdown, his third in three games against the Seahawks this year:

I saw it a couple of times. I think we got it last week. With (CB Jalen Ramsey) being as dominant as he is, they have to try and move Metcalf around to get him away from Jalen and basically feature him. That’s a play that I knew was going to happen. I knew that they were going to try and feature him and get him the ball somehow, let him break tackles. And I just ran and jumped it. 

When I film study, I just memorize plays real good. I think that’s what helped me. I knew he was going to motion all the way over. The guys were tight and the big guy out there, I knew they were going to try and get him the ball and let him work.

It’s unlikely a single play caused a firing. Unless it was the last straw between quarterback and coordinator.

After the 5-0 seasonal start, the Seahawks had injuries to running backs that helped lead to  losses in three of four games. The defeats included 10 turnovers, including several interceptions that were forced into a fresh coverage plan by defenses — two-high safeties.

The Seahawks countered with shorter pass routes and more runs from an increasingly healthy rushing  group. It seemed to work, with wins in the final four games, including 20-9 over the Rams Dec. 27. But that Rams team was missing its top rusher, rookie RB Cam Akers, who Saturday returned from injury to provide 131 yards in 28 carries.

In that game and earlier ones, Schottenheimer couldn’t find an answer to the great reduction in explosive plays that distinguished the fast start, and made Wilson an early season favorite for MVP. They had eight in the final eight games. Afterward, Carroll said Wilson had held the ball too long on occasion, generating sacks — a consistent career consequence for QBs who look deep frequently.

According to ESPN Stats & Information research, Wilson’s QBR rating of 17.6 was the worst in his 16 career playoff games.

Nor did Carroll like a fourth-quarter play that Schottenheimer dialed up on a fourth-and-1 at the Seattle 34-yard line. Carroll admitted he chose another play, but the confusion delayed the break from the huddle, which resulted in a false start on LG Jordan Simmons. That forced a punt.

“I kind of got in the middle of it,’’ Carroll said. “Then, we just got late.  That’s why we wound up jumping; we screwed it up.  It just wasn’t clear enough.  That’s one play.  We didn’t function the way we needed to right there and so we had to punt the football.”

The Seahawks did not function well nearly all afternoon Saturday, for a team with Super Bowl aspirations. We’ll likely not know who said what to whom in the second-most damaging loss of the Carroll era. But we know who was held responsible.

Wilson offered a farewell on Twitter:



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  • Shanahan

    Schottenheimer called too many bad plays, including the one for the pick-six on Saturday. Time to try someone else as OC.

    • Howard Hart

      They did. Schottenheimer is out.

    • art thiel

      They’re always bad when they don’t work. He seemed to do all right for the first 459 points in the regular season.

  • Husky73

    459 points and 12 wins wasn’t enough……..

    • 1coolguy

      Timing is everything – most of those points came in the first half of the season, then the scoring decreased – it appeared the offense didn’t adjust and was continually shut down.

      • jafabian

        Unfortunately we’ll never know why. Was that Pete’s call? Schotty? Russ insisting to stick with what got them there? Losing Carson again to injury as well as Hyde and Homer forcing John Schneider to go after Alex Collins? Can’t help but think Schotty is the scapegoat in all this.

  • 3 Lions

    Pete didn’t have them ready to play and unfortunately the Rams are more talented.

    • art thiel

      Well, yes.

    • jafabian

      I didn’t this they were for that game. A backup QB and rookie RB with no playoff experience and no Aaron Darnold in the second half. That’s like losing Wagner. By rights the Hawks should have exploited that.

    • John C. Morris

      and….we are predictable, New England was just waiting on plays to get called, so were the Rams. I get that it was the 3rd game of the year between the 2 teams but the Rams were more prepared and seemed to have been able to make the right adjustments from the last game. Donald couldnt wait! Akers back sure helped. Adams lighting cigars didnt.

  • Howard Hart

    “The news was startling…”

    Somehow, I wasn’t even surprised. Living on moon balls had to come to an end. And it did.

    • art thiel

      It was startling because Carroll said he expected everyone back. He didn’t have to say that if he knew he was offing Brian.

  • 2nd place is 1st loser

    Pete and his staff were just flat out coached against the Rams. Forget the “we have to run the ball better mantra.” Because it all starts with the guys upfront and those particular players have always seemed to be an Achilles heal under John and Pete’s reign. With practically little draft capital in this years draft, there’s not going to be many of the bright and shiny objects to choose from with so few picks. With diminished cap space in the NFL and having to try to renegotiate with Adams and Carson most likely departing for greener pastures, as in greener money pastures. John and Pete are going to have their hands full. Go Hawks.

    • art thiel

      The O-line was consistently ranked in the top 10 this year by Pro Football Focus, FWIW. I do think that cumulative hurts and a big fail at LG with Iupati/Simmons against Donald was a big factor Saturday. Plus two holding calls on Pocic.

      • John C. Morris

        Wonder why they didnt double team Donald?

  • Alan Harrison

    Adjustments (or the inability to adjust, to be more accurate). That was the key failing for the team in the end. Hard to quibble with a 12-5 record, but it comes from that Founder Syndrome mentality that PC has with the club. He sounds so much like a company founder whose way worked for years but doesn’t anymore – but rather than adjust after the competition has figured it out, his solution is to do it “harder,” somehow. Ultimately, that was the downfall of Bud Grant in his Super Bowls – Pete’s mentor. Grant had the Purple People Eater DL, but his OL was known as the “Watch Out Gang” because they were continually turning back to the QB during pass plays (Fran Tarkenton, especially, who wrote about it), yelling “Watch out!” so he could scramble out of the way. Sound familiar?

  • tor5

    A run-heavy offensive philosophy might make sense, but the Hawks’ rut seems to come when they predictably run it on 1st and 2nd down, then face 3rd-and-4 and predictably pass. It is the opposite of Carroll’s wish to force defenses into certain schemes. He also can’t blind himself to the fact that they have DK, forcripesakes. I hope Carroll can push his philosophy but also let his new OC find creative ways to go about it. I wish Schotty well.

    • art thiel

      They threw more on first down this year than in the past, but they were up against the best D for the third time in the season. That’s a tough assignment for any OC.

  • David Freiboth

    Well, I guess if you’ve got to shoot someone … It certainly isn’t going to be the pampered star QB.

    • art thiel

      The one with the least leverage always goes. But unless one of the three decides to be honest publicly, likely we’re not going to hear why.

  • DB

    When I read what Darious Williams had to say about the pick, I somehow hear Malcolm Butler.

    • art thiel

      I heard the echo too.

      • Bruce McDermott

        Except the target there was our 4th receiver.

    • WestCoastBias79

      Swain did about as good of a job blocking Williams as I would have.

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  • WestCoastBias79

    Scotty was much better than I thought he’d be when they hired him. My only concern is that Pete will channel Woody Hayes and get someone worse.

    • woofer

      Yes, and it is hard to imagine a young creative offensive innovator viewing the Seahawks as an attractive venue for honing his skills.

      • Archangelo Spumoni

        Good observation. On the other hand, if they do find somebody young and creative and wants to use this position as a springboard, the other aspects of this franchise are in our favor.

  • Tim

    I have little smarts in terms of the x’s and o’s but it seems that in the past, we ran the read option rather effectively, and maybe more designed runs by Wilson would have softened that D up or at least helped us convert some 3rd and shorts. Really though, that is one hell of a defense the Rams have. I can’t wait to see Rogers on his back.

  • Archangelo Spumoni

    Listening to sports talk radio provides a recommended antidote to you-know-who with the orange sheen, one would think this is a perma-disaster franchise like maybe Cincinnati. Their last 4 seasons were 9-7, 10-6, 11-5, and 12-4. Perspective?

    • Husky73

      I guess next year is 13-3.

  • douglas heinlein

    A few (three) years ago I thought that I would hate to see the Hawks become the old Chargers team…great but not so great, and squandering the talents of a great (now two) quarterback…Fouts and Rivers deserved much more than what they got. I hope Wilson doesn’t join them. The inability of this team to adjust game time to what they are up against is their kryptonite. As the late great Willi Keeler said, “hit ’em where they aint.”

    • Alan Harrison

      Always feels weird that the only QB to take the Chargers to the Super Bowl was big-headed Stan Humphries.

    • Husky73

      Add John Hadl to your list.

  • Husky73

    For the last several years the NFL has been referred to as a quarterback’s league and a passing league. Strong armed QB’s are the top draft picks every year. And now, the Seahawks are going to turn into a running team? With a QB that threw 40 TD passes this year? A team with Metcalf and Lockett? Explain that to me.

    • Alan Harrison

      If that’s the case, the RB they need isn’t currently on the roster. Chris Carson is close, but is constantly getting injured. And it’s not Penny. Maybe Najee Harris, but he’ll be long gone by the second round.

      Curious to see who’ll be left on this squad by April.

      • Husky73

        Make a draft day deal with Miami and bring Myles Gaskin home.

  • Talkjoc

    Hey Art, we heard Pete Carroll say he interfered in the 4th down call that caused a delay and ultimately a false start. Did anyone ask what was the play called and what did PC want run? Any idea?

  • John C. Morris

    Art- I have 2 questions for you:
    1. Do you think we need to pay $30M for a QB that is needed to operate Pete’s run heavy offensive scheme?
    2. Do you think Wilson would even want to continue playing in a run heavy scheme?

  • John C. Morris

    Any thoughts on how far Reid would have taken the Hawks this year? Also, how far would have the Chiefs gone with Russ at QB this year?

  • DJ

    Thanks Art! This isn’t much of a surprise. What’s been a surprise all along is to see more plays called that don’t quite cater to Russell Wilson’s strengths and continue to put him and the offense at risk. The solution has always been simple, but watching it never happen has been frustrating.

    We need to create a new definition to “Let Russ Cook”…’s letting Russ be Russ.
    Look at how Andy Reid’s style has changed to Mahomes talents. There’s a great OC. Coaching to your players instead of making them fit your mold. When I watch KC, Mahomes on a designed rollout, is see what I all along have believed a pocket for Russell should look like – on the move, getting away from being a sitting duck, destroying the D with accurate throws on the run.

    We’ve really got one of the best all time QBs in the NFL, in player and man. Time to quit wasting time. I hate to say it (the Husky in me), but a mind like Sarkisian might be a good choice. He’s done similar work with his players at Alabama.