Sherman Smith, an original Seahawks player, is out as Seattle’s running backs coach. He said head coach Pete Carroll decided that.
Smith told 710 AM radio in Seattle on Friday morning that Carroll decided last month to make a change.
The 62-year-old, who has been the Seahawks’ running back coach since 2010, said he had told his players following their playoff loss at Atlanta on Jan. 14 he was thinking about retiring.
Smith says Carroll made that decision for him on Jan. 17.
“We went into the meeting and Pete started talking about he thought it was time, you know, about making the change,” Smith told the “Brock and Salk Show.” “You know, it surprised me because I thought I would be the one more or less leading the conversation and either saying I hadn’t decided to retire yet, or, you know, I was going to coach another year. But I didn’t think it would be him saying, you know, ‘I want to make a change.’ Because you take from that that evidently (he’s) not happy with the job I’m doing.
“But that’s not what he was saying. He just said ... ‘I think it’s time to make a change.’ ”
That change is Chad Morton being promoted from assistant running backs coach and assistant special teams coach to take Smith’s job. Smith confirmed that, though the team had yet to as of Friday.
Morton is 23 years younger. He was a running back in the NFL for seven seasons, beginning in 2000 with New Orleans and ending in 2006 with the New York Giants. He was Green Bay’s assistant special teams coach for four seasons before Carroll hired him in 2014 to the same job in Seattle. He began assisting Smith coaching Seahawks running backs in 2015.
“I told him my job was to prepare him to be the best running backs coach in the NFL, and the next running backs coach for the Seahawks,” Smith said.
“So in a sense, the goal was attained.
“I think Coach wants more of that run-around energy (of Morton’s) that I can’t give.”
Smith was direct when the Seahawks’ running game struggled last season, when injuries and ineffectiveness led to 18 different guys carrying the ball for Seattle and the regular season ending with Christine Michael as the team’s leading rusher despite the team waiving him in November. Before that, Smith spoke with candor on what made Marshawn Lynch so great as the foundation of the franchise from 2011 into ’15, and on the battles Thomas Rawls had getting back from a broken ankle last offseason, among other topics.
“Marshawn made a lot of things that were wrong right,” Smith told 710 AM Friday about the retired Lynch.
“People came in against us this year saying, ‘Whoo! I’m glad we don’t have to face Marshawn.’ ”
Smith was Seattle’s second-round draft choice in 1976, the expansion franchise’s inaugural season, out of Miami University in Ohio. He had Seattle’s first 100-yard rushing game that November against Atlanta. He spent seven of his eight NFL playing seasons with the Seahawks, rushing for 3,429 yards and 28 touchdowns and catching 210 passes for another 10 scores. He retired after spending 1983 as a reserve with San Diego.
He began his coaching career in 1984 as an assistant at Redmond High School. After 13 years as the running backs coach for the Houston Oilers and Tennessee Titans, he became the Washington Redskins’ offensive coordinator in 2008. In 2010, Carroll hired Smith to his first Seahawks’ coaching staff.
The other change this offseason to the Seahawks’ coaching staff is Rocky Seto leaving coaching to join the ministry. Seto was team’s assistant head coach for defense. He was a top assistant for Carroll at USC as well, including as the Trojans’ defensive coordinator in 2009.
AVRIL HAS SURGERY
Cliff Avril joked on social media this week his wife now has another kid to take care of: him. That’s because the Pro Bowl defensive end is recovering from surgery.
Avril posted on his Instagram account a picture of his patient bracelet from the procedure. On it was the name of Dr. William C. Meyers, the renowned surgeon specializing in sports hernia and abdominal repairs in the Philadelphia area. Since-retired running back Marshawn Lynch in 2015, Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano that same year and Seahawks starting linebacker Mike Morgan last year are other recent players to have Meyers work on them.
Avril, who turns 31 in April, had a career-high 11 1/2 sacks in the 2016 season. He was selected for the Pro Bowl for the first time.
NO ISRAEL TRIP FOR AVRIL, BENNETT
Avril and fellow Seahawks Pro Bowl end Michael Bennett were among six NFL players, out of a scheduled 11, to skip their tour of Israel this week.
The Times of Israel reported the remaining players that landed there on Monday were Arizona Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell, Oakland Raiders defensive tackle Dan Williams, New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan, Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker and Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Mychal Kendricks.
Stops on the agenda include Rambam hospital in Haifa, the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem and a meet with representatives of the Black Hebrews in Dimona. The players’ tour was also to include stops in Tel Aviv, the Dead Sea and Haifa, as well as Christian sites in Galilee. It was arranged by the Israeli government.
Bennett wrote on social media last week he was pulling out of the trip because he felt the Israeli government was using him as a propaganda tool. He wrote he will visit when he can also see Palestinian settlements.
“My itinerary was being constructed by the Israeli government for the purposes of making me, in the words of a government official, ‘an influencer and opinion-former.’… I will not be used in such a manner,” Bennett wrote.
His younger brother Martellus, a tight end with the Super Bowl-champion New England Patriots, then skipped the trip as well.
Gregg Bell: @gbellseattle