Pete Carroll and QBs and Seahawks 2022

We’re 12 days away from the Seattle Seahawks start to the 2022 season. As with any NFL team the success of this season will depend in large part on the play of the teams quarterback. After trading Russell Wilson in March the Hawks will have a new QB for the first time since 2012. After a thoroughly uninspiring Preseason Coach Pete Carroll has named Geno Smith as the team’s leader.

As with most people Smith doesn’t leave me tingling with excitement at the prospect of him doing much of anything, really. I’ve said repeatedly since March Geno is the reincarnation of Tavaris Jackson. He’s a quarterback who is capable of moving his team between the 20s and before the 2:00 warning. But he has shown no particular talent for getting the ball in the end zone or even coming close inside 2-minutes of either the 1st or 2nd half.

I, however, choose to be optimistic about the play of our quarterback in 2022. The ONLY reason I choose to look on the bright side is because of Pete Carroll’s history with quarterbacks. Simply put, it is unparalleled excellence when he is the head coach. Let me explain.

In Carroll’s 2nd Head Coaching job he led the New England Patriots for 3 seasons. At New England he had former Cougar and Number 1 NFL draft pick Drew Bledsoe as his QB. Bledsoe had already been in the league 4 years before Carroll arrived and had established himself as one of the best at his position. But I think it’s important to note that nothing Carroll did slowed Bledoe’s career. In fact in March 2001, after only one season away from Carroll Bledsoe signed a $103-million dollar contract making him, at the time, the highest paid player in NFL history. Not soon after that Bledsoe’s career crumbled having been replaced at QB by The Goat, Tom Brady.

After being fired in New England Carroll resurrected his career at USC where he won multiple NCAA Championships AND continued to produce top-notch quarterbacks. In his first year at USC Carroll inherited an largely unimpressive, underachieving QB named Carson Palmer. In Carroll’s second year Palmer played so well he won the Heisman Trophy and was the first player selected in the NFL draft. Palmer went on to have a good, not great NFL career. Many would say he underachieved in the NFL. He didn’t have Carroll.

Carroll then won the National Championship the next year with Sophomore Matt Leinart as QB. Leinart won the Heisman the next year, 2004, as the Trojans won their 2nd straight National Championship. Leinart then left school early and was an NFL 1st round draft pick of the Arizona Cardinals. He famously did next to nothing in his NFL career failing to come close to the level of play he demonstrated when under Carroll’s direction.

Next quarterback on Carroll’s roster of success was Mark Sanchez. While Sanchez didn’t win any Heismans or National Titles he did play well enough in only 2 seasons to be drafted #6 in the NFL draft by the New York Jets. Carroll famously answered a reporter’s question truthfully by saying he felt Sanchez could benefit by staying in college one more year rather than leaving as a Sophomore. Sanchez, like Leinart, flamed out in the NFL. He is probably most remembered for “the butt fumble”. Look it up. It’ll make you laugh.

Carroll also coached Matt Cassell at USC. And while Cassell never played much, since he played behind Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart he was coached up enough to earn a fairly decent NFL career despite never having started a game in college.

Lastly, in 2012 as Seahawks Head Coach Carroll and GM John Schneider drafted a short (5’10”) quarterback out of Wisconsin via North Carolina late in that draft’s 3rd round. It’s important to note that every other NFL team passed on drafting Russell Wilson, some of them 3 times. Carroll coached Wilson into a probable NFL Hall of Fame career. Whether Wilson will follow the path of Carroll’s previous QB’s and stumble forward in a less than stellar remainder of his career remains to be seen.

The point is Carroll has one of the best record’s in football history of producing GREAT quarterbacks. At least they were great while playing for him. Will Geno Smith be a likewise beneficiary of Carroll’s Midas touch? That remains to be seen.

However, even without high end quarterback play I expect a Seahawk season better than what other’s are predicting.

Their offense will have some great running backs hauling the rock. And they have a rebuilt offensive line with stellar talent that only needs experience to improve over what we’ve had in recent years.

Ken Norton Jr. is gone as Defensive Coordinator and we can all expect addition by subtraction for the Seahawk’s defense this year. Norton was awful. The schemes I saw him running last year, in particular, were laughable. I saw Poona Ford in pass coverage more than once! The Seahawk’s defense will be better.

In looking at the schedule game by game I see 7 wins. Just like last year. I strikes me as a particularly brutal schedule. Try as I might to envision an 8th or a 9th win…I just don’t see it. But, if Geno surprises me and everybody else and follows the path of past Carroll QB’s we might all get a New Year’s treat for 2023, a playoff birth.

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