Pete Carroll is apparently banking on third times being charms this coming year for the Seahawks’ offense — specifically with their new offensive coordinator.
Seattle is expected to hire Indianapolis Colts quarterbacks coach Brian Schottenheimer as the third play caller Carroll has had since he arrived to run the franchise in 2010. That is according to multiple national reports, the first Saturday by ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
The Seahawks would not confirm Schottenheimer, 44, is their guy to replace Darrell Bevell. The team said only there is “nothing to report at this point.”
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NFL Network reported Carroll has offered Schottenheimer the job, and all that remains is finalizing the deal.
Carroll fired Bevell on Wednesday after seven seasons as his offensive coordinator. Bevell replaced Jeremy Bates, Carroll’s coordinator for his first season leading the Seahawks in 2010.
The son of former Kansas City Chiefs, Cleveland Browns and Washington Redskins head coach Marty Schottenheimer, Brian was the St. Louis Rams’ offensive coordinator in 2012-14 and the New York Jets’ from 2006-11.
Carroll has stated his primary goal to get his fallen Seahawks back soaring in 2018 is to run the ball, like his teams used to.
Schottenheimer fits that aim.
Of the nine offenses Schottenheimer has coordinated, three have finished in the NFL’s top 10 in rushing for a season. Two have finished in the top five, as Carroll’s Seahawks did from 2012-15 while going to two Super Bowls.
Those two top-five rushing offenses Schottenheimer had were in 2009 and ‘10. His Jets played in the AFC championship game each of those seasons, behind Thomas Jones’ 1,400 yards rushing in 2009 and LaDainian Tomlinson’s 914 yards with Shonn Greene’s 766 a year later. Schottenheimer’s offense ran it a whopping 607 times in 2009.
The only other NFL team in the last 31 years to run the ball 600 times in a season is the 2004 Pittsburgh Steelers (618 rushes).
The Seahawks have never in their 42 years of existence rushed 600 times in a season. Not even when “Ground” Chuck Knox was their coach in the 1980s. Seattle ran it 409 times in 2017 — 95 of those carries were by quarterback Russell Wilson, for a team-leading 586 yards.
Schottenheimer’s quarterback in 2009 and ‘10 with the Jets? Mark Sanchez. Sanchez was Carroll’s QB at USC from 2006-08.
Schottenheimer’s task with the Seahawks will be to call more — and more effective — running plays.
Carroll’s next task will be to hire a new offensive line coach for fired Tom Cable (reportedly heading back to Oakland as an assistant to new Raiders coach Jon Gruden) — and bring in new linemen who can block for new running backs who can run more often, and better.
“There were issues during the season. The big one I’d like to address for you is we have a real formula for how we win. We’ve been unable to incorporate a major aspect of that: running the football the way we want,” Carroll said Jan. 2, the day after Seattle (9-7) ended its season, out of the playoffs for the first time in six years.
“There are tremendous examples of teams around the league that have turned their fortunes around with a formula that should sound familiar to you: Teams running the football, playing good defense and doing the kicking game thing. That’s the formula that has proven historically the best in this game.”
Of the teams that finished within the league’s top 10 in rushing offense in 2017, nine of them are in the postseason. The exception is Dallas. The Cowboys were second to AFC South-champion Jacksonville at 135.6 yards rushing per game, but are out of the playoffs after finishing 9-7.
Officially, Seattle was 23rd in the NFL in rushing. But that’s as hollow as celebrating the team’s 18th-overall pick in the first round.
Wilson was just the third NFL quarterback in the past 26 years to be his team’s leading rusher. Cam Newton did it for Carolina in 2012, and in 2000 Donovan McNabb led Philadelphia in rushing.
The NFL’s official statistics database says 440 of Wilson’s 586 yards rushing came off scrambles away from swarming rushers on pass calls. Take away those scramble yards on plays that weren’t supposed to be runs and Seattle would have been dead last in rushing in 2017.
Their running backs averaged just 62 yards per game. Mike Davis, formerly waived by San Francisco and a Seahawks practice-squad player for the first 10 weeks of this past season, finished as the team’s unexpected lead back. That was after rookie Chris Carson’s month as the surprise featured back ended with a broken leg and ankle injuries.
Wilson also led the NFL with 34 touchdown passes. Bevell’s play calls eventually and understandably relied almost completely on his dynamic quarterback to do it all, and often improvisationally, outside any structure of an on-time passing game or called runs.
Schottenheimer is apparently the man Carroll has chosen to help him change that.
Gregg Bell: @gbellseattle