Pete Carroll has turned Seahawks around from prior dysfunction

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When Pete Carroll arrived in Seattle in 2010, he was taking over a Seahawks franchise that had fallen into complete dysfunction following their only Super Bowl appearance in 2005.

General manager Tim Ruskell botched the handling of All-Pro guard Steve Hutchinson by going behind head coach Mike Holmgren’s back and only placing a transition tag on Hutchinson when the front office had collectively decided to franchise him prior to the NFL combine in 2006. It opened the door for Minnesota to sign Hutchinson to an offer sheet with a “poison pill” included that made the deal impossible for Seattle to match.

The mistake was one of many incidents that led to a falling out between Ruskell and Holmgren as the team that won the NFC in 2005 began to fall apart at the seams.

Ruskell constantly missed in finding productive players in the draft and Seattle’s veteran team began to break down. In Ruskell’s five years as general manager, the Seahawks drafted just two players that would become Pro Bowl selections in linebacker Lofa Tatupu (2005) and center Max Unger (2009). Carroll had three Pro Bowl selections in his first draft class alone in left tackle Russell Okung, safety Earl Thomas and safety Kam Chancellor. In addition, wide receiver Golden Tate – Seattle’s second round pick in 2010 – just signed a big second contract with the Detroit Lions.

Ruskell drafted more fullbacks (three) than running backs (one, Justin Forsett) and failed to hit on any of his first-round draft picks.

In 2008, Ruskell selected San Diego State long-snapper Tyler Schmitt in the sixth-round of the draft. In addition to the oddity of drafting a long-snapper in general, Schmitt’s back was so jacked up he only appeared briefly in one preseason game.

“He is a young man and has a back like mine. So it’s not good,” Holmgren said at the time. Holmgren was 60 years old at the time. Schmitt was just 22.

It was a microcosm of the ineffectiveness of Seattle’s personnel department under Ruskell.

Holmgren went 4-12 in his final season as head coach in 2008 with Ruskell promoting Jim Mora to head coach for the 2009 season. Mora led Seattle to a 5-11 record as Ruskell resigned midseason. Mora was then fired after just one season as head coach with owner Paul Allen and CEO Tod Leiweke convincing Carroll to return to the NFL.

The roster Carroll had inherited was old, small and slow in comparison to many other teams across the league. Under Carroll, Seattle won a historically weak NFC West in 2010 and pulled off an upset victory over the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints. Seattle compiled 284 roster moves in their first year with Carroll at the helm in an attempt to overturn the roster.

The Seahawks have now made the playoffs in three of Carroll’s four seasons as head coach and won games in the postseason each time. Seattle won their first Super Bowl in February with a 43-8 thrashing of the Denver Broncos.

Along with general manager John Schneider, Pete Carroll has righted the ship that had fallen so horrendously off-course under Tim Ruskell. The success has earned Carroll a well-deserved contract extension.

31 responses to “Pete Carroll has turned Seahawks around from prior dysfunction

  1. Pete Carroll and John Schneider gave the Seahawks a quick four-year turnaround from the shambles that Tim Ruskell left us in.

    Thank you Pete Carroll and Bo Duke!

  2. I remember the losers at Field Gulls vigorously defending Tim Ruskell and savaging Carroll well into 2011. How’s that Aaron Curry pick looking now, duffers? I was right all along.

  3. This is the most in-depth, accurate, and well-written article I’ve read about the Seahawks from the national media in my entire 38 years as a fan.

    And all the pain we suffered from 2005 to 2010 pales in comparison to the pain and darkness we suffered from the day the Nordstrom family sold the Seahawks to Ken Behring in 1988 all the way to the final whistle in Superbowl XL (the worst-officiated championship game in American sports history). Even our best days with Hasselbeck at QB are the subject of mockery (“We’ll take the ball and we’re going to score.”)

    Pete Carroll, John Schneider and Russell Wilson are GODS in the Emerald City, and forever will be. After 38 years of pride, love and support of a hapless continual loser, #12 was finally rewarded with a Lombardi by the Seahawks’ Holy Trinity. The entire city remains draped in 12 flags, and tears still swell in the eyes of all #12’s, overcome by the glory of triumph.

    Pete Carroll is a BOSS. I would wash his car with my tears if asked. LOVE THIS!!!!!


  4. Pete is a student and teacher of the game having learned from some of the greatest football coaches along the way. Aaron Curry type busts dont exist with JS and sweet Pete running the show. Its been remarkable to watch this teams first couple of drafts turn out so many quality players. He can coach up anyone, get everyone to “buy in” and be on the same page. Well deserved

  5. Tim Ruskell or Bill Leavy. Can’t decide which one hurt the hawks more.

    On one hand you have a terrible gm with zero ability to identify top notch talent. On the other hand you have a guy that admitted to giving away a superbowl.

    Tough call.

  6. And he caused complete dysfunction at USC. He was able to get out of there, leaving only their innocent players to suffer the consequences, and he now has a Super Bowl ring. What a joke.

  7. Stand by for all the haters to chime in.

    I knew Ruskell was bad, but I had no idea how deep it went.

    I hope Pete is in Seattle for awhile, if for no other reason than seeing him bounce around a sideline at his age….heh. Good for him.

  8. Ruskell is the guy who signed 34 year old TJ Houshmanzadeh to a $40 million contract.

    There are a lot of other bad things he did, but that one, on its own, speaks volumes as to his lack of competence. The following year, Carroll cut him and the team had to eat $7 million in dead cap money.

    I believe now that Red Bryant has left that there are only two players left from the Ruskell era on the team, Brandon Mebane and Max Unger. And it’s only been four years.

  9. Face it people, Carroll is the best coach in the NFL just as Schneider is the best GM.

    To the fans of other teams; “Make yourself a Hawks fan or get used to looking up at us”.

  10. 1) “Organizations win championships” – Jerry Krause, the GM for the Chicago Bulls who went out and got ALL the players and coaches who helped MJ win 6 NBA championships.

    2) I was kind of glad that the Broncos were in the Super Bowl last season because that Seattle team was the best team I have seen since the 1985 Bears.

    3) I am a Patriots’ fan.

  11. Other Ruskell moves were drafting a long-snapper in I think it was the fifth round, and then seeing the guy never play because he had back problems.

    He also drafted a placekicker, Brandon Coutu, in 2008. The problem was the team also signed Olindo Mare. Mare won the job in camp, but Ruskell “stashed” Coutu on the roster where he took up a roster spot but never actually played – meanwhile, the offensive line was relying on 30+ year olds returning from injuries to hold together, so of course, it did not.

    I don’t really blame him for Aaron Curry, since every analyst was running around crowning him “safest pick in the draft” – and he actually made a great move for Seattle by agreeing to trade his final second-round pick to Denver for the pick that Carroll turned into Earl Thomas. But the bad far, far outweighed the good….he traded up to acquire guys like John Carlson and Deon Grant, for crying out loud.

  12. The National accolades have not been forthcoming for Coach Carroll or John Schneider these past four years………This article makes it clear why they should.

  13. The fact that Ryan Grigson and Jeff Dorsey won NFL Executive the last two seasons with rosters that were largely put together by their previous regimes is an absolute joke.

    Great to see how this article brings to light the amount of work Schneider and Carroll put in by turning over a roster that was in REALLY bad shape.

    The most enjoyable part in all of it is the continued “bad” Draft grades that Seattle has received the past three seasons.

    I guess a Lombardi serves as an appropriate middle finger to all the “experts”.

    One of my greatest days as a sports fan was enjoying all of the backtracking being done the day after Superbowl 48 by the majority of National media who roundly picked the Denver Broncos over Seattle.

  14. Curtis Crabtree great article!

    Outside of Seattle people don’t understand how bad it was when Pete Carroll/John Schneider took over from Ruskell. Mike Holgrem was a great coach but as a GM before Ruskell he did a poor job in those duties. The amount of transactions they had to make to make the roster competitive. Even though we are picking 32nd, I am excited about what they will do in this draft. Go Hawks

  15. Ruskell is a bad word in my house. He was the most incompetent gm of any team of any sport I’ve ever seen and the Ruskell/Holmgren era was nothing but disappointment compounded by more disappointment. I thank the football Gods every day for Schneider and Pete.

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