In his recent annual head coach power rankings, NFL Media analyst Elliot Harrison ranked Super-Bowl-winning Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll seventh. About Carroll, he had this to say:
“Yes, Seahawks fans, we realize Carroll won it all. So has every coach remaining — save for Jim Harbaugh. So why is Carroll ranked beneath his rival? Because Seattle went 7-9 in each of Carroll’s first two seasons with Seattle. He also trails Harbaugh in the head-to-head series, four games to three. However, if Carroll gets his club back to at least the NFC Championship Game, he might fly past Harbaugh and vie for the spot just below Belichick.”
Interesting. How about Jim Harbaugh?
“Say what you will about Jim Harbaugh’s temperament, but no head coach in the history of the NFL can mess with his first three years — three straight NFC Championship Game appearances. Harbaugh’s club narrowly lost to the Giants in the 2011 NFC title game and the Seahawks in last season’s installment. In 2012, the Niners advanced to the Super Bowl and almost pulled off a thrilling comeback victory. San Francisco has won 36 regular-season games in Harbaugh’s first three years; the franchise won a mere 21 in the three seasons prior.”
Left out of this analysis is the San Francisco 49ers decade of high draft picks which had left the team stocked with players such as journeyman Pro Bowl quarterback Alex Smith, five-time Pro Bowl running back Frank Gore, two-time Pro Bowl and #1 in receiving touchdowns (2009) tight end Vernon Davis, productive wideout (when not covered by Richard Sherman) Michael Crabtree, three-time Pro Bowl and three-time All-Pro tackle Joe Staley, two-time Pro Bowl and All-Pro guard Mike Iupati, five-time Pro Bowl and three-time All-Pro defensive end Justin Smith (not drafted by the Niners), seven-time Pro Bowl and six-time All-Pro and twice NFL tackles leader (2007, 2009) linebacker Patrick Willis, and two-time Pro Bowl and three-time All-Pro linebacker NaVorro Bowman. This is what Jim Harbaugh walked into.
Pete Carroll on the other hand inherited a basement team of undersized, slow players, psychologically blasted by losing and the firing of their head coach Jim Mora. Carroll made more than 200 moves his first season – almost a total purge of the roster. He made brilliant player position-shifts, such as converting Red Bryant from an undersized, weak tackle to a crushing force at the defensive end. In the copycat NFL, Carroll installed a defense that was unlike anything in the league. He built the Legion of Boom – the most aggressive, physical pass-coverage corps since the glory days of the Oakland Raiders – hand-picking the players who could do it (often in late rounds).
Pete Carroll installed a defensive line rotation that brought in fresh players on almost every snap, producing relentless pressure on the edge and opening penetration opportunities for the linebackers and monstrous pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Pete Carroll invented a new kind of defense, which quickly became the top defense in the NFL and is now being widely copycatted all across the league.
There is a lot more that could be said here, but there is not room. Carroll let a third-round rookie quarterback win the job against a big free agent quarterback, among many other things. Was PC dissed in this national power ranking? The Seahawks have always been dissed. The Seattle Seahawks team was built from undervalued, underestimated players with something to prove.
The Seahawks like to be dissed.