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Sherman Smith out as Seahawks running backs coach, says Pete Carroll wanted change

Sherman Smith is out as the Seahawks’ running backs coach after seven seasons. Coach Pete Carroll decided to replace him with Smith’s former assistant, Chad Morton.
Sherman Smith is out as the Seahawks’ running backs coach after seven seasons. Coach Pete Carroll decided to replace him with Smith’s former assistant, Chad Morton.

Sherman Smith, an original Seahawks player, is out as Seattle’s running backs coach. He says head man Pete Carroll decided that.

Smith told 710 AM radio in Seattle that on Friday morning. 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 Jan. 14 that he was thinking about perhaps 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 retired 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.

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.”

I’m going to miss Smith’s candor in interviews. He was direct when the Seahawks’ running game struggled last season, when injuries then ineffectiveness led to 18 different guys carrying the ball for Seattle and the regular season ending with Christine Michael the team’s leading rusher despite the team waiving him in November. Before that Smith was effusive and enlightening 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. I’ll miss talking to him.

“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 7 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 in the Seattle suburbs. 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: Rocky Seto is leaving coaching to join the ministry. He was team’s assistant head coach for defense, and was a top assistant for Carroll at USC as well, including as the Trojans’ defensive coordinator in 2009.

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