By Matt Pitman from VMAC
In talking with Seahawks CEO Tod Leiweke today, two things were clear. The first, the Seahawks believe Pete Carroll is the man to lead the Seahawks turnaround on the field. The second thing, a major shakeup was needed at the top of the football organization after years of dysfunction.
"It's clear to me that this man has a chip on his shoulder to prove that he can also win at the NFL level," Leiweke said of Pete Carroll. "He had a .500 record but he's been paying for that. But this is a guy that went on and did things in football that no man has ever done. After the last two seasons, those are things that really resonated with us," he said.
Carroll's official title will be Head Coach and Vice President of Football Operations. The Seahawks will interview candidates for the vacant general manager position this week and we will know his official title once he is hired. Hiring the new general manager will complete an extensive overhaul of the football operations side of the organization. The four men expected to interview for GM are Patriots Senior Advisor Floyd Reese, Packers Director of Football Operations John Schneider, Giants Director of College Scouting Marc Ross, and Steelers Football & Business Administration Director Omar Kahn.
John Idzik will remain as the Seahawks Vice President of Football Administration, overseeing contract negotiations and salary cap matters. It's a three man team, all reporting to Leiweke, and working in a "collaborative relationship," as Leiweke calls it, that will lead the next chapter in Seahawks history.
"What we've got here today is a clean slate. It's a new era of Seahawks football," Leiweke said.
A clean slate is exactly what this organization needs. It became clear to Leiweke that years of discord between Mike Holmgren and Tim Ruskell had taken it's toll on the franchise. With Holmgren first being stripped of his duties as GM, then Holmgren has to report to a guy (Ruskell) who has his old job. Add Ruskell's hand picked coach-in-waiting replacement for Holmgren (Jim Mora) lurking over Holmgren's shoulder for a year, and you've got yourself quite a mess.
Leiweke candidly admitted that the past few years made it clear that significant changes were needed. "Some of that really led us to this idea, of 'what if you had a clean sweep?' There were a lot of reasons for things not to work here."
The odd man out in that dysfunction proved to be Jim Mora. The odd timing and handling of his firing was just as uncomfortable for Leiweke, who was acting on a directive from team owner Paul Allen. "I did stand up in front of the media when we announced that we weren't going to extend Tim's contract, and said we anticipated continuing on. The fact is, what we did seven days a week, is we were really studying this organization. Trying to understand how we break this cycle of losing we were in. We won nine games the last two years, and with all due respect 4 of those were to the St. Louis Rams, and that's not acceptable. It's not acceptable to our fans, it's not acceptable to Mr. Allen, and it certainly isn't acceptable to me," Leiweke said. "Some have said this isn't fair...I'm not going to debate that point. But status quo was not an option."
It all comes back around to the "clean sweep" Leiweke mentioned several times in chatting with reporters in Renton Monday afternoon. Out with the old and in with the new. Tuesday we will meet the new, in person when Pete Carroll will be introduced as the Seahawks head coach at 10 a.m. We will carry the press conference live on 710 ESPN Seattle.