Renton – John Schneider, introduced as the Seattle Seahawks general manager Wednesday, will be the team’s top personnel man, in charge of overseeing the draft and the pursuit of players in free agency.
However, contrary to Seahawks CEO Tod Leiweke’s statements to reporters a week ago, Schneider will not work “shoulder to shoulder” with recently hired coach and executive vice president Pete Carroll.
Leiweke indicated early on in the 40-minute press conference that Carroll will have final say in all personnel matters.
“If someday there’s a dispute between these guys and there’s a coin toss, were going to build the team around this man (Carroll) and the players,” Leiweke said. “And that was an important thing he signed on. Pete wins the coin toss.”
Schneider still will be an important and weighty presence in the evaluation process with Seattle.
He later downplayed the issue, saying that most coaches deserve that right and most general managers understand that you don’t want to cram a player down a coach’s throat.
“You just talk through those things,” Schneider said. “It’s not quite as confrontational as people make it out to be.”
John Idzik, the team’s cap specialist, will report to Schneider.
Carroll’s hope is that the charismatic Schneider proves a capable wing man in returning the Seahawks to respectability after accumulating a 9-23 record over the past two seasons.
“This is a guy that has a wealth of experience, has a creative, active, energetic approach that just seemed to fit just right,” Carroll said. “We hit it off from the beginning.”
Schneider comes from the Packers, who had the youngest team in the league for four consecutive seasons.
The Packers had a reputation for focusing on building the team through the draft, and using free agency to supplement the roster.
Now Schneider will meld that philosophy with Carroll’s focus on developing young talent, figuring out what players such as linebacker Aaron Curry and defensive end Darryl Tapp do well, and tailoring a scheme that fits those skills.
“We’re going to utilize our guys to do what they do best,” Carroll said. “We’re not throwing the notebook at these guys. We’re going to create the notebook based on our talent, and what we think we can do best with those guys.”
Knowing that, Schneider said, makes his job easier.
“For a personnel guy, it’s a dream come true,” he said. “So when you’re sitting there having this conversation, it’s, ‘OK, who are the best players and what do they do?’ ”
During Schneider’s 18 years in the league, he cut his teeth with some of the NFL’s best personnel men. His career began with a phone call to then-Packers general manager Ron Wolf, which led to an internship with Green Bay during his junior year in college.
After some coaxing from a friend after a Memorial Day weekend spent camping with wife Traci, Schneider decided to follow through on a steady stream of letters he had sent to Wolf.
“I called him up and I was just going to leave a voice message,” Schneider said. “And he picked up. He was in there watching tape, and I was like, ‘Oh, he’s on the phone.’ And we just started talking, and he asked me how soon I could come down for an interview.”
Schneider said Wolf took him under his wing, and a budding career as an NFL personnel guy began as he spent six years honing his craft in Green Bay.
Schneider then moved on to work with Marty Schottenheimer in Kansas City as his pro personnel director for two seasons before moving to Seattle to work in the same position for a year when Ted Thompson served as general manager for the Seahawks.
Schneider then rejoined Schottenheimer in Washington for a season before returning to Green Bay to work again for Thompson for the past eight seasons.
Schneider said his return to Seattle was in part to finish what he started in 2000.
“I always felt when I left, when you leave in the middle of a rebuilding process like that, you always feel like there’s unfinished business,” Schneider said. “And I feel there is unfinished business, just not for me personally but as a team. The ‘we’ is going to be important, and we need to finish this thing.”
Schneider said much of the scouting staff will remain the same. That means interim general manager Ruston Webster likely will retain his job as vice president of player personnel, and Will Lewis will be kept as pro personnel director. Lewis interviewed for Cleveland’s vacant general manager position and an opportunity to rejoin Mike Holmgren, but the Browns ultimately hired Philadelphia Eagles general manager Tom Heckert. ... Carroll is putting the finishing touches on his coaching staff. The big get for Carroll was convincing renowned offensive line coach Alex Gibbs to join his staff as the offensive line/assistant head coach. Gibbs is the guru of the zone blocking scheme, which the Seahawks implemented with uneven success last season. None of the team’s offensive assistants from last season were retained, as Carroll brought in Jeremy Bates from Southern California to be the team’s offensive coordinator. Bates previously served as quarterbacks coach in Denver, where he had success with Jay Cutler as the Broncos’ signal-caller.
Jedd Fisch will be the team’s quarterbacks coach, leaving his offensive coordinator position at the University of Minnesota. Fisch served as the wide receivers coach for Denver when Bates was there. Pat McPherson will coach tight ends. McPherson also worked with Bates in Denver. The Seahawks have yet to hire a running backs or assistant line coach. Former Seahawks player and coach Sherman Smith will interview for the running backs coach position today. On defense, Carroll retained defensive coordinator Gus Bradley because of the two’s ties to Monte Kiffin and both using similar schemes. Carroll also kept defensive line coach Dan Quinn. Ken Norton Jr. joins the staff to coach linebackers, as he did for Southern Cal. Jerry Gray comes from the Redskins to coach the secondary, the same thing he did for Washington. Brian Schneider will coach special teams, the same thing he did for the Trojans.