Around the League will examine one key figure under pressure on each team heading into the 2012 season. Next up: The Seattle Seahawks
Under Pressure: Pete Carroll
If you pen a book entitled "Win Forever" and apply that philosophy to your football team, at some point you have to start winning. That's something the Seahawks haven't done a whole lot of in recent seasons, including the last two with Carroll at the helm. After posting winning records in seven of Mike Holmgren's first nine seasons in Seattle, the Seahawks are 23-41 over the last four campaigns, and 15-19 in the 34 regular and postseason games under Carroll.
Standing in the way of a winning record in 2012 is a schedule that pits the Seahawks against a very tough NFC North, which has three playoff-caliber teams. The North division portion of the schedule includes a December trip to face the Chicago Bears, where Jeremy Bates, Carroll's first offensive coordinator in Seattle, now serves as quarterbacks coach. Also on the schedule are the New England Patriots and New York Jets, two teams Carroll coached in the '90s (34-33 combined regular and postseason record) prior to his stint at USC. Throw in matchups against Cam Newton and the upstart Carolina Panthers, as well as the semi-annual "What's Your Deal?" game with Jim Harbaugh and the defending NFC West champion San Francisco 49ers, the Seahawks are in store for a tough slate this season.
The Seahawks do have many quality pieces in place. They have a strong running game, defend the run well, and possess a young secondary loaded with ballhawks. To avoid a losing season, though, they'll need more from both the passing game and pass rush. Seattle has bet on backup quarterbacks (Charlie Whitehurst, Tarvaris Jackson and Matt Flynn) in free agency in each of the three offseasons under Carroll, spending $4.5 million on inside pass rusher Jason Jones before using the 15th overall pick in the 2012 draft on Bruce Irvin, an undersized defensive end from West Virginia.
Flynn (or Jackson) have plenty of offensive weapons at their disposal. The Seahawks spent $75 million on free-agent Pro Bowl pass-catchers Sidney Rice and Zach Miller in 2011, and recently acquired former Pro Bowl tight end Kellen Winslow from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. If neither quarterback can improve the passing offense, the pass rush remains ineffective and the Seahawks end up having another losing season, Carroll may want to invest in a few pairs of flame-retardant khakis.