RENTON — In a move that few could have foreseen when they began the season with one of the NFL’s best offenses, the Seattle Seahawks announced Tuesday that they have parted ways with offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.
The Seahawks announced the move on Twitter: “Brian Schottenheimer is a fantastic person and coach and we thank him for the last three years. Citing philosophical differences, we have parted ways.”
Schottenheimer, 47, spent three seasons as Seattle’s offensive coordinator, hired after Darrell Bevell was fired following the 2017 season.
The Seahawks scored 459 points this regular season, the most in team history, and became the fifth team since the 1970 NFL merger to start a season 3-0 and score 35-plus points in each game.
But the offense sputtered down the stretch, as the Seahawks were held to 20 points or fewer in four of the final six games, including Saturday’s 30-20 loss to the Los Angeles Rams in a wild-card playoff game.
Coach Pete Carroll had somewhat sidestepped a question about changes on his coaching staff when he talked to the media Monday, saying it was not something he would discuss before adding, “I’m counting on everybody coming back.”
Carroll also began that interview by volunteering that the Seahawks must return to running the ball more in 2021, and that may have foreshadowed that the Seahawks wanted to go in a different direction with its offense.
The Rams’ loss included a botched fourth-down play in the fourth quarter from Seattle’s own 34 which Carroll admitted later that he essentially overruled the play call, which helped result in the team leaving the huddle late.
Left guard Jordan Simmons was then called for illegal motion and Seattle, which was down 23-13 at the time, had to punt. The Rams used a fumbled punt by Seattle to then score to take a 30-13 lead and essentially end the game.
“We were talking it over and we discussed some plays and I kind of got in the middle of it,” Carroll said. “Then, we just got late. That’s why we wound up jumping; we screwed it up. It just wasn’t clear enough. That’s one play. We didn’t function the way we needed to right there and so we had to punt the football. Punting the football wasn’t a bad idea, either. Just to get them on down, and take them to the next couple sequences. But I would have really liked to have made that, and so that’s why we went ahead and tried to get the chance and then we just didn’t function cleanly like we needed to.
Carroll also acknowledged that after the team lost three of four at midseason — losing 10 turnovers in the three losses — he wanted the offense to become a bit more conversative and careful with the ball.
In what turned out to be his last session with Seattle media last Thursday, Schottenheimer noted the team’s increased emphasis on turnovers as the year wore on saying “the thing I’m most proud of is the way we’ve taken care of the football.”
The Seahawks did that down the stretch, committing one or fewer turnovers in a four-game winning streak that clinched the NFC West title at 12-4.
But the Seahawks were held to 278 yards against the Rams, a season low, as Seattle couldn’t reverse a late-season offensive nosedive.
Carroll said Monday he wanted to run the ball more to try to get defenses out of playing so much soft, two-deep zone, which he felt teams had used to stop Seattle’s explosive plays.
Running more didn’t necessarily seem like it would go counter to Schottenheimer’s philosophy, When he was hired both Carroll and Schottenheimer pointed to Schottenheimer’s experience in run-heavy offenses as something that attracted them to each other.
“We have to run the ball better,” Carroll said. “Not even better — we have to run it more. We have to dictate what’s going on with the people that we’re playing and that’s one of the ways to do that. And I know the fans aren’t really jacked about hearing that, but (quarterback Russell Wilson) knows it, too. We need to we need to be able to knock those guys into the scheme that we want to throw at and, which was happening more earlier in the season and we took full advantage of it.”
Wilson threw for 28 touchdown passes in the first eight games of the season, on pace to break Peyton Manning’s NFL record of 55 in 2013, but had just 12 in the final eight games.
And Seattle’s rate of explosive plays also dropped dramatically in the second half — after having 22 passes of 25 yards or longer in the first eight games of the year the Seahawks had just eight in the final eight games and two against the Rams Saturday.
Schottenheimer is the son of former longtime head coach Marty Schottenheimer.
Seattle already will undergo some change on its offensive coaching staff with run game coordinator Brennan Carroll — Pete Carroll’s son — having accepted a job as offensive coordinator at Arizona.
Passing game coordinator Dave Canales has also been reported to have interviewed for an offensive coordinator’s job at Vanderbilt.