But it’s clear that Carroll wanted to continue in the role he had and see if he could produce one more title team.
“I competed pretty hard to be the coach, just so you know,” Carroll said during an emotional farewell news conference. “I just wanted to make sure I stood up for all of our coaches and the players and the things that we had accomplished. Not just so we could be the coach still, but so we could continue to have a chance to be successful and keep the organization going. That’s what I was fighting for.
“In that regard, that’s what I was representing in our discussions,” Carroll continued. “And we got to a good part, good, clean spot where it made sense, and I went along with their intentions.”
With staff from throughout the facility, assistant coaches and a few current players filling the auditorium, Carroll spoke for more than 30 minutes through a mix of tears and laughter about a tenure that will be difficult for any coach to match in the future.
“I’m thrilled that we’ve had this run. I really am. This level of consistency that we’ve demonstrated is such that it makes you proud,” Carroll said.
Carroll will step aside as the most successful coach in franchise history, but with an unsatisfactory conclusion after several seasons of middling results, including a 9-8 record and no playoff berth in his final season.
He’ll forever be lauded as the first coach to bring the Lombardi Trophy to Seattle with the Super Bowl 48 victory over Denver. Carroll finished with a 137-69-1 record in the regular season with the Seahawks. He led Seattle to five NFC West titles and 10 playoff victories.
But Carroll and the organization never fully recovered from what happened in the Super Bowl 49 and Russell Wilson’s goal line interception in the final seconds. The core that took Seattle to those title games eventually unraveled and while Carroll tried several different reboots, the Seahawks never again found that level of talent and chemistry to experience another title and wash away the memories of that painful loss.
Seattle also plateaued toward the end of Carroll’s time, finishing with a losing record in 2021 followed by consecutive 9-8 seasons while falling short of becoming more of a contender in the NFC West.
The postseason was another problem. Seattle has not advanced past the divisional round since the 2014 playoffs and lost in the wild-card round in three of its past four postseason appearances.
“We lost our edge, really, the edge to be great, which was really how we ran the football and how we played defense. It wasn’t as good as it needed to be,” Carroll said.
“Would not be where I am today without these two men as mentors,” Texas coach Steve Sarkisian wrote on social media.
The future for Seattle will be under the watch of a different coach and with general manager John Schneider entirely in control of personnel.
One of the unique aspects of Seattle’s success was the marriage between Schneider and Carroll. It was Carroll that was hired first in January 2010 before bringing aboard Schneider as his running mate. It was Carroll that retained final control over personnel decisions.
Now, it’s flipped. Schneider will be making the call on the next coach and personnel.
“It’s why this happened,” Carroll said. “You want to know? I want him to have this chance. It’s been 14 years he’s been sitting there waiting for his opportunity and he deserves it. And he’s great at what he does.”
Despite the lackluster final chapter, Carroll’s tenure in Seattle will be viewed as the most successful run since the franchise arrived in 1976. He ushered in a player-friendly environment built around allowing personalities to show within the defined structure of his system. Carroll preached competition, but made it fun along the way.
The Seahawks thrived under Carroll with the personalities of Marshawn Lynch, Doug Baldwin and Richard Sherman, for example. They plucked Wilson out of the third round and watched him help the team win a Super Bowl in his second season. Known for his defensive mind, Carroll created a defense that was the best of its era for multiple seasons and was at the foundation of those back-to-back teams which won NFC titles.
“Coach Carroll is a stud. If I’m sitting up here being able to do that as long as he did … that be impressive,” Rams coach Sean McVay said.
Seattle is the seventh NFL team at the moment looking for a new coach, joining Tennessee, Atlanta and Washington who have fired coaches since the regular season ended. The Raiders, the Chargers and Panthers didn’t wait for the season to end before firing coaches.
NFL teams can’t start in-person interviews until after the divisional round after owners voted in October to push those back a week to slow down the hiring process and try to increase diversity in hiring. They also cannot interview head coaching candidates employed by other NFL teams until Tuesday or Wednesday for any coach whose team is done or team has a playoff bye. Teams can start virtual interviews.
Any internal candidates or someone not currently employed by the NFL can interview in person.
Speculation will immediately turn to Dallas defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who served in the same role for the Seahawks during their two NFC championship seasons. Quinn was 43-42 with two playoff appearances and one memorable Super Bowl collapse in his five-plus seasons as the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons.