Pete Carroll still gets it.
The way the NFL works. How to win. What his team needs and doesn’t need to compete with the best teams in the league.
The longtime Seahawks coach has somehow rejuvenated a team everyone predicted would finish last in the NFC West and finish the season with a top-five draft pick. Well, the Seahawks are leading their division by a game and a half through nine games. Nobody saw that coming.
But it looks different this time around for Seattle. Carroll, a defensive coach by trade, known for the “Legion of Boom” defenses of the early-mid 2010s, is doing it with an explosive offense. The Seahawks had productive offenses under Russell Wilson for a few years after the Legion of Boom phase, but none of this was expected with Geno Smith under center.
These Seahawks are led by an offense that ranks fourth in scoring averaging 26.8 points per game. Seattle is seventh in total rushing yards and ninth in passing yards. Smith had been written off as a bust following stints with both New York teams and the Chargers. The former West Virginia Mountaineer finally looks like a capable starting NFL quarterback. It only took close to a decade to find his place, and a coach who believed in him.
After Smith’s final year at West Virginia, big things were expected when the Jets selected him 39th overall in the 2013 draft. His first two years in New York can be summarized as mediocre at best, and that’s stating it nicely. During year three’s training camp is where things took an even worse turn for Smith after he was punched in by teammate IK Enemkpali. Smith suffered a fractured jaw that forced him to miss half the year. After a couple more years on the bench, Geno bounced around to the Giants and Chargers before landing on the Seahawks’ bench in 2020. And that clearly was the best thing to happen for his career.
Thanks to Carroll and second-year offensive coordinator Shane Waldron, Smith looks like a dark horse MVP candidate halfway through the season. But let’s not give the coaching staff all the credit for Geno’s success. He’s playing better than most thought imaginable.
Smith is having the best year of his career, completing 73 percent of his passes while posting a 107.2 passer rating and a QBR of 68. He’s thrown for nearly 245 yards per game and has 15 touchdowns to just four interceptions. The 15 TDs tie Smith for fifth in the NFL with Tua Tagovailoa, and his 2,199 passing yards ranks sixth in the league. Winning MVP could prove out of reach, but Comeback Player of the Year seems well within reach.
Coach Carroll could also find himself vying for honorary hardware in the form of Coach of the Year. If the Seahawks win 12 or 13 games this year after nobody expected them to win more than six, Carroll would be a top contender for the award. Believe it or not, Carroll’s never been named COY in the NFL. With every week that passes, his Seahawks are making believers out of the doubters, showing it’s never too late for an old coach to adopt a new approach to the game.