Darrell Bevell is out as the play caller for the Seahawks’ recently stalled offense, one of the two moves many of you have been begging to happen.
The other one could be next.
The Seahawks have fired Bevell, their offensive coordinator of the last seven seasons. Curtis Crabtree of Seattle’s KJR radio and NBC Sports’ Pro Football Talk first broke the news just before midnight Wednesday.
It’s a decisive move by coach Pete Carroll, who cherishes continuity on his coaching staff and stuck with Bevell through two Super Bowls--including the second one Seattle lost when Carroll infamously had Bevell call a pass from the 1-yard line in the final seconds.
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It shows how broken the head man sees the offense.
If he sees it as a systemic failure, Tom Cable could be the next to go.
Or Cable could be the survivor in Carroll’s push to remake the offense back to one grounded in the running game.
Later Wednesday, Falcons coach Dan Quinn shot down another potential option for Carroll: Making Steve Sarkisian his play caller again.
While Atlanta was preparing to play Philadelphia this weekend in the NFL playoffs, Quinn told reporters from there that there is “zero chance” Sarkisian, the Falcons’ offensive coordinator, becomes the Seahawks’ new OC and play caller.
Carroll gave Sarkisian his first coaching job, as an offensive assistant at USC from 2001-04 on Carroll’s first Trojans staff. Then Sarkisian was Carroll’s offensive coordinator at USC, before Sarkisian became a first-time head coach at the University of Washington in 2009. Carroll followed him to Seattle to take over the Seahawks a year later. The two have remained in contact through Sarkisian’s tumultuous time since, including him leaving UW to become USC’s head man. Carroll talked to Sarkisian the night before USC had him take a leave of absence in October 2015, before the university eventually fired him. Sarkisian is currently in the playoffs in his first season as offensive coordinator for Atlanta for Quinn--Carroll’s former defensive coordinator with the Seahawks.
When he was the UW head man through 2013 Sarkisian spent time at Seahawks headquarters with Carroll. And Carroll spent time at UW at Pro Days and other Huskies events when Sarkisian was there. It was during those reunions that Quinn got to know Sarkisian enough to offer him the Atlanta coordinator job last year.
Last March, just after Quinn hired Sarkisian to be the Falcons’ play caller, Carroll called it “a beautiful thing, a great opportunity for Sark. And he’s going to do a terrific job there.”
Cable is Carroll’s assistant head coach and offensive line coach. He is also Seattle’s run-game coordinator; he mentors and meshes running backs with those blockers. The Seahawks have gone from the NFL’s top five rushing offense in 2012, ‘13, ‘14 and ‘15--when Marshawn Lynch was romping in Cable’s zone-running schemes--to 25th and 23rd the last two seasons. Take away quarterback and team-rushing leader Russell Wilson’s 440 scramble yards he got avoiding sacks on plays that weren’t supposed to be runs and the Seahawks would have been 32nd, dead last, in rushing offense.
The Seahawks finished the 2017 season 11 days ago out of the playoffs for the first time since 2011, Bevell’s and Cable’s first season on the staff. That was the year Bevell arrived after the former University of Wisconsin quarterback was the Minnesota Vikings’ offensive coordinator.
Bevell throughout last season said he knew Seattle’s identity under Carroll was to run the ball, but that he had to make the calls to win games. That often meant passes that counted on Wilson to make whatever playground, improvisational magic he could. Sometimes, that worked--as evidenced by all his yards off scrambling and league-leading 34 touchdown passes. Often, it did not--as evidenced by Wilson twists and turns into sacks for losses of 22 and 23 yards in December games against the Rams and Cowboys.
Cable’s line was largely to blame for that.
Seattle finished 11th in scoring offense in 2017, 15th in total offense. So despite what seemingly everybody in Western Washington including Joe Cabbie thinks, not every play Bevell called failed.
Just many of them.
Days before what became Bevell’s final game as a Seahawks coach, the home loss to Arizona in the 2017 finale on New Year’s Eve, I asked him how difficult the season and failures had been for him.
“We’ve had challenges. We’ve had a lot of challenges that we are managing,” Bevell said Dec. 27. “It’s hard but it’s the fun part of what we do. Trying to bring out the best of all the stuff that we have is definitely a challenge that you are trying to accomplish and you are trying to minimize the weaknesses that you have. That’s just really what we do each and every week and year after year.
“So this year is just a little bit different and it’s fun to work with those challenges.”
That fun is over for him. And Doug Baldwin objects.
Yet New Year’s Day, the day after the Seahawks’ 2017 season ended, Baldwin pointedly defended Bevell‘s play-calling in a R-rated way.
“’Bev,’ Seattle’s longest-tenured offensive player said, “is not the problem.”