Call it the Off-Season Massacre, if you like. The Seahawks parted ways with Ricky Manning Jr. today. He is the eighth assistant to leave Seattle.
Whether you want to call the Seahawks coaching changes a massacre depends upon your opinion, of course. You may prefer to see it as spring cleaning. Okay, winter cleaning, but it amounts to the same thing. When your team misses the playoffs for the first time in what seems like forever, things have to change. And *most* coaches are easier to replace than players.
Great coaches aren’t easy to replace, of course. I haven’t heard many people call Darrell Bevell, Tom Cable, or even Kris Richard great. Let alone Ricky Manning Jr., the former assistant coach for defensive backs. I admit, it does seem strange to let the defensive coordinator and the defensive backs coach go when your claim to fame is defense. I mean, this team has been known for the Legion of Boom above all else.
And yet, Manning is out. Then again, he just arrived for the 2016 season. He gets no credit for the Legion of Boom prior to that. In 2013, 2014 and 2015, the Seahawks pass defense was ranked number one or two in fewest yards allowed and fewest touchdowns allowed every year. In 2016, Manning’s first year, they dropped to eighth in fewest yards and third in touchdowns allowed. Still very good, but no longer the best. 2017 was the worst yet, at least by Seahawks standards. The LOB ranked sixth and seventh in yards and touchdowns allowed, respectively.
It wasn’t all Manning’s fault – but it wasn’t all injuries, either.
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For most teams, those are fine performances. For Seattle, they are sub-standard. Make that just plain bad. Of course injuries played a huge part in both years. Losing Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor for a combined nine games in 2016 hurt. Losing Chancellor, Richard Sherman, and Cliff Avrill for 26 games did as much to end the Seahawks playoff run as anything else this season, including the terrible running game.
Despite the injuries, we saw too many missed open field tackles this season. True, there may have only been a few a game, but they tended to lead to huge plays. The Legion of Boom didn’t get their name for missing tackles. They tackled “with authority”, as Marv Albert used to say. Different sport, but they just didn’t miss.
When the defense drops five or six spots, you have to make changes. Especially when your team identity is built on defense. Like virtually every other former Seahawks coach, I expect Manning will land a new gig quickly.