National Football League
Who replaces ‘Positive Pete’ Carroll after his amazing run with Seahawks?
National Football League

Who replaces ‘Positive Pete’ Carroll after his amazing run with Seahawks?

Updated Jan. 10, 2024 5:46 p.m. ET

The first time I met Pete Carroll was after his Seattle Seahawks introductory press conference in 2010, and he enthusiastically went into detail about his plans to turn the team around.

I admit I was a non-believer. 

But over time, Carroll began to grow on me, as he does on everyone else in his path. And quickly his "Positive Pete" approach to team-building paid dividends for the Seahawks. It included a surprising playoff run in his first year at the helm, reaching the playoffs after a 7-9 season that featured one of the most memorable plays in NFL history: Marshawn Lynch's "Beast Quake" run.

So, when the Seahawks announced Wednesday that Carroll, who also held the title of vice president of football operations, was transitioning from head coach to an advisory role, it ended one of the most successful periods in team history. 


[READ MORE: Pete Carroll on 50 years of coaching: 'Maintain curiosity, keep figuring out who you are']

During a 35-minute press conference in front of local reporters, an emotional Carroll thanked his wife, Glena, his family, fellow coaches and players for their support during his 50 years as a coach. Carroll said he fought for his job in a season-ending meeting with owner Jody Allen, but he understands that moving to an advisory role is part of the evolution of the franchise.

"What I am most proud of is we took a culture that we developed in those college days and came here," Carroll told reporters. "If you cared for people deeply, you loved them for who they were, and tried to find the extraordinary uniqueness that made them, them. … At SC, we killed it. And we came up here, and overall we’ve been successful for a long time."

Carroll said general manager John Schneider will head up the coaching search, which is one of the reasons he made the decision to move on. And he’s not walking off into the sunset.

"I’m freaking jacked," the 72-year-old Carroll said. "I’m fired up. I’m not tired. I’m not worn down. You guys tried your best, but you didn’t wear me out. It’s the end of the season, and I’m supposed to go lay down on a cot somewhere, but I ain’t feeling like that.

"What’s coming? I don’t know. And I really don’t care right now. But I’m excited about it because there’s a lot to learn, a lot to study. There’s great discoveries that are going to come our way. And as my all-time mentor Bud Grant said in not so many words, 'There’s rivers to wade, there’s waves to catch and there’s mountains to hike.'"

Carroll's Seahawks reached the playoffs in 10 of his 14 seasons, and Seattle never missed a postseason in consecutive years. He won at least nine games in 11 of his last 12 seasons, which included back-to-back Super Bowl appearances in 2013 and 2014 and the franchise's only championship after the 2013 season. 

Carroll finishes as the all-time winningest coach in franchise history (137 victories) and has the highest winning percentage (60.6%) of any Seahawks head coach. Seattle won five NFC West titles during his tenure.

Known for creating the "Legion of Boom," Carroll built a unit that led the NFL in scoring defense for four consecutive seasons from 2012 to 2015, the first defense in the Super Bowl era to accomplish that feat.

Carroll is also one of only three coaches to win a college national title and win a Super Bowl, joining Barry Switzer and Jimmy Johnson. 

But the Seahawks hit a wall with back-to-back 9-8 seasons after moving on from Russell Wilson, the best quarterback in franchise history, and appear to need a new voice to lead them.

Names that make sense to fill the void include former Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who led the Atlanta Falcons to a Super Bowl and has developed a top-notch defense for the Dallas Cowboys

Recently fired Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel also could make some sense because of his coaching chops and ability to build a strong defense. 

Seattle also could swing for the fences and pursue Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, who won a national title on Monday. Harbaugh was Carroll's rival twice — as coach of the San Francisco 49ers and at Stanford when Carroll was at USC.

Other potential candidates who fit the culture created by Carroll in Seattle include Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris, 49ers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks, Los Angeles Chargers offensive coordinator Kellen Moore and Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. 

Pete Carroll moves to front office after 14 years as Seahawks coach

Working in Seattle's favor is that owner Jody Allen has the financial wherewithal to attract the top candidates in the league and takes a hands-off approach to managing the franchise, allowing coaches and personnel executives to make football decisions.

With GM Schneider remaining, Seattle has one of the top personnel executives to help remold the franchise. Also, the Seahawks have one of the top practice facilities in the league. 

So, Seattle's coaching vacancy should be one of the more attractive in the league, no matter how many openings become available.

Eric D. Williams has reported on the NFL for more than a decade, covering the Los Angeles Rams for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Chargers for ESPN and the Seattle Seahawks for the Tacoma News Tribune. Follow him on Twitter at @eric_d_williams.


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