From worst to first: ranking the Seahawks head coaches

KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 20: Head coach Chuck Knox of the Seattle Seahawks watches the NFL game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on November 20, 1988 in Kansas City, Missouri. The Chiefs defeated the Seahawks 27-24. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 20: Head coach Chuck Knox of the Seattle Seahawks watches the NFL game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on November 20, 1988 in Kansas City, Missouri. The Chiefs defeated the Seahawks 27-24. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

The Seahawks have had some great coaches, and a couple that were really less than great. We rank them all, from worst to first.

For a team that’s heading into their 43rd season, the Seahawks haven’t had a lot of head coaches. Seattle has only had eight head coaches since 1976. In that same time, the San Franciso 49ers have had 14 coaches. The Los Angeles Rams have also had 14 coaches during the Seahawks existence. And the Arizona Cardinals have had…yep, you guessed it, 14 head coaches. Maybe the air is just better in Washington.

Let’s get to it. From worst to first, here are the eight men who’ve guided the Seattle Seahawks through the decades. Some brought champions onto the field. One just brought replacement players. For better – and there were quite a few of those coaches – or worse, these are the men who led the Seahawks. Spoiler alert: the guy in the picture up there isn’t number one.

Mike McCormack, 1982. Seattle: 4-3. Overall: 29-51-1. McCormack was hired as an executive by the Seahawks, and took over the coaching duties when Seattle fired the man who started the season 0-2. We’ll get to him later. McCormack didn’t do too badly in Seattle, but that 4-3 record was his only winning season out of six.

Jim Mora, 2009. Seattle: 5-11. Overall: 31-33. Mora is best known as the placeholder between two of the Seahawks best coaches. He was hired to improve a team that ranked 25th in offense and defense in 2008. Under Mora, the Seahawks ranked 25th and 25th again. Mora hasn’t coached in the league since then.

Tom Flores, 1992-1994. Seattle: 14-34. Overall: 97-87. This was a tough call for me, as Flores was good enough to win two Super Bowls with the Raiders. But this is about the Seahawks head coaches, and his record in Seattle was just bad. Then again, look at his terrible 2-14 season. He had Stan Gelbaugh and Kelly Stouffer at quarterback. What are you supposed to do with those guys? Still, Flores had a terrible record in Seattle, and that can’t be overlooked.

Dennis Erickson, 1995-1998. Seattle: 31-33. Overall: 40-56. Over their entire career, of course Flores was a better coach. But Erickson basically got two extra wins a year out of Rick Mirer, who took over behind center in Flores’ last season. Mirer was bad enough for Warren Moon, who was about 87 years old then, to take over as the Seahawks quarterback. Moon actually had a decent year in Seattle and made the Pro Bowl in 1997. Erickson gets bonus points for coaching the 49ers for a couple of years and taking them to a 2-14 record in 2004. Go Hawks!

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Jack Patera, 1976-1982. Seattle: 35-59. Overall: 35-59. I hear you, 12s. Whoa, wait a minute! His record is awful, just a few percentage points better than McCormack’s. That’s true. It’s also true he was the Seahawks first head coach. New franchises in the NFL don’t exactly get the best talent. This isn’t the NHL we’re looking at here. Seattle was 2-12 in their inaugural season. Patera coached them to a 5-9 record in 1977, and brought Seattle a winning team in just their third year. Tampa Bay, the other team that joined the league in 1976, didn’t do so well. Their first four seasons records: 0-14, 2-12, 5-11, 10-6. So I’d say Patera did a pretty good job considering the odds he faced.

Chuck Knox, 1983-1991. Seattle: 80-63. Overall: 186-147-1. This was another tough call for me between Knox and the man ranked just ahead of him. In the end, two things turned it in the next man’s favor. Knox won the division just once in nine seasons. In addition, Seattle only won as many as ten games twice under him. It wasn’t just that the 49ers were dominant during Knox’s years either. Settle finished third or fourth in the division five times. Knox was good, but the next guy was better.

Mike Holmgren, 1999-2008. Seattle: 86-74. Overall: 161-111. Holmgren took the Seahawks back to the playoffs for the first time in 11 years with a 9-7 division title. It took a while, but in 2003 he had them back in the playoffs for five straight seasons. The last four of those years were all division championship seasons for Seattle. The wheels came off in his last season as the  Seahawks went 4-12. That year led to Mora, who led to…

Pete Carroll of the Seahawks
ARLINGTON, TX – DECEMBER 24: Head coach Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks during the second half of play against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

Pete Carroll, 2010-2018. Seattle: 79-48-1. Overall: 112-79-1. As if there was any doubt. At 62 percent, he has by far the best winning percentage of all Seahawks coaches. Knox is second at 56 percent. Remember, Holmgren had more division titles. But is you want Knox in second, fine. He isn’t better than Carroll, though. In his first season, Carroll managed to win a bad division with a 7-9 record. Seattle missed the playoffs in 2011, but made them every year after until last year. Seattle won a Super Bowl and narrowly lost a second. Carroll’s Seahawks are 9-5 in the playoffs, the only winning record among all Seahawks coaches in the playoffs.

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Pete Carroll is clearly the best head coach in the Seahawks history by nearly any measure. His worst record is 7-9. Holmgren had two seasons worse than that. Carroll has been first or second in the division every season but one. Knox finished third three times and fourth twice. Pete is the man. Although I have to admit, I’m pretty sure Chuck Knox would have called a handoff on second down.