RENTON, Wash. — What's expected to be an offseason makeover for the Seattle Seahawks is starting with its coaching staff.
The Seahawks fired offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and offensive line coach Tom Cable on Wednesday. Bevell was in charge of calling plays, while Cable was responsible for a run game and offensive line that failed to meet expectations.
It was a stunning sweep for head coach Pete Carroll, who has been immensely loyal to his assistants during his tenure. Carroll's only other significant firing was offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates following the 2010 season, Carroll's first in Seattle.
"We are challenged by change, but excited to attack the future with great purpose," Carroll said in a statement. "I want to thank both Tom and Darrell for their role in helping take this program to a championship level. I will always be grateful for the opportunity to coach and compete alongside these great men."
Seattle has been backsliding since appearing in the Super Bowl three years ago. The Seahawks missed the playoffs for the first time since 2011 after going 9-7 this season. It was clear there would be significant personnel changes going into 2018 and it started with the coaching staff.
Bevell and Cable had been with the team since 2011, responsible for developing an offense that was good enough to appear in two straight Super Bowls but that had regressed since. Bevell was let go on Tuesday night, according to ProFootballTalk.com, which first reported the move, and Cable was dismissed a day later. It seemed unlikely Cable would be retained after Bevell was let go.
Making wholesale changes is a massive departure for Carroll. Both in the college ranks at Southern California and during his successful tenure in Seattle, there was never the need to completely remodel the coaching staff. If coaches left, it was because they were getting better opportunities elsewhere, something Carroll has relished.
Carroll hinted that changes were likely when he recapped the 2017 season last week. It may be his last chance to refashion the Seahawks into a championship contender. Carroll is the oldest coach in the league at 66 — although he often acts like the youngest — and has two years remaining on his contract.
"I think a lot of respect is to be dealt to these guys," Carroll said. "They've got families and lives and careers and dreams and hopes as we all do, and we'll see what happens. I've always been here to help our guys and I want them to go and do what they're capable of doing and meet their challenges of their lifetime as well, and I'm up for that. When it works out, I do everything I can to help them. We'll see what happens, but other than that there's not much to be said about that at this point."
While Bevell was able to develop Russell Wilson into a top quarterback and create an offense good enough to win a Super Bowl, he was never able to escape the shadow of the play call made at the conclusion of the Super Bowl against New England. Rather than a run from the 1-yard line in the final minute, Bevell called for a pass that was intercepted by Malcolm Butler and cost Seattle its chance at a second straight title.
While it's not a direct correlation, Seattle's drop from the top of the NFC started the moment that play happened. There was bitterness in the Seattle locker room that Marshawn Lynch didn't get the ball on the play, and the stigma hung over Bevell even as Carroll tried to take blame for the call.
Cable took nearly as much heat for his inability to develop an offensive line capable of properly protecting Wilson and establishing the power run game Carroll desired. Cable was given resources in the draft and occasionally in free agency, but the line never had the consistency for Seattle's offense to perform at its best.
The decision to remove both coaches may appease Seahawks fans who have grown frustrated with Seattle's offensive woes — including using the #FireBevell hashtag on Twitter — despite claims from players that the coaching staff was not to blame for the struggles.
Wide receiver Doug Baldwin launched into a passionate defense of Bevell's performance after the season.
"We don't execute as a team. Offensively that's what we've seen time and time again is we do not execute the way that we should," Baldwin said. "That's on us as players. You guys can blame (Bevell) as much as you want to. Truth is (Bevell) is not the problem."