RENTON — For 14 seasons, the Seattle Seahawks were — or tried to be — an imprint of what coach Pete Carroll wanted.
For the first time, they’re about to be the imprint of what general manager John Schneider wants. And what that image and structure eventually looks like will start with who he chooses as the Seahawks head coach replacing Carroll.
As the Seahawks move forward with their first coaching search in more than a decade, the responsibility for making that decision will fall on Schneider, the guy who was plucked from the Green Bay front office by Carroll to be his general manager after the coach had been hired in Seattle in 2010.
It’s a first-time situation for Schneider, which leaves an air of uncertainty and unknown around how the Seahawks will go through this process. While owner/chair Jody Allen and her executive team will have say in who eventually gets the job, it’ll be Schneider taking on the bulk of the task.
Carroll made clear in his farewell news conference that while he still wanted to be the coach, he was excited to see what Schneider would do with the opportunity.
“I’m so excited for you to have this opportunity. It’s going to be cool,” Carroll said. “And it’s always been a great marriage. And it’s just unforgettable. I’m so grateful for that. And going forward, I’ll be your biggest fan now.”
The nature of the relationship between Carroll and Schneider was unique from the start. The coach hired the general manager 14 years ago, not the other way around as it normally has gone in most leadership situations.
While Schneider deserves significant credit for the successes of the Seahawks during that time, Carroll always held final say over personnel. It also made it where Carroll could be the front-facing spokesperson of the franchise with Schneider only in specific settings — draft and combine for instance — being a public voice for the organization.
That’s another aspect that will likely change to a degree. Schneider is already scheduled for a news conference next week.
“I had the say-so, but Johnny made millions of decisions here because he was great at making those decisions. So, in my opinion, we just had to figure it out, and I had to lean for him and he had to lean for me,” Carroll said.
What makes the upcoming search such an unknown is Schneider having never been in this position before.
When the Seahawks wanted to make adjustments to the coaching staff in the past, it was always Carroll’s final call while getting input from the front office.
Does Schneider want to keep a similar style in place of a defensive-minded coach or at least someone who will carry forward some of Carroll’s principles?
That is largely what has sparked the connections being made between the Seahawks opening and the duo of Dallas defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and Tampa Bay offensive coordinator Dave Canales, both of whom have strong ties to Carroll and Seattle.
Or will Schneider go off the radar in the same way the Seahawks did back in 2010 when Carroll was pried away from Southern California and given another chance in the NFL?
Whatever the path Schneider eventually chooses, Carroll provided some guidance on his way out. They were words Schneider knows well, but were important for Carroll to reiterate.
“It was the most important thing in the whole program,” Carroll said. “It’s the relationship between the head coach and the general manager that have to make — this is my opinion — that have to make these decisions and have to put in motion the approach and philosophy and how it’s going to succeed and how to correct and get back — course correct and all the things you have to do.”