Seahawks success under Pete Carroll
On the other hand, a number of the greatest coaches of all time had a bad season or two and were given the chance to fix the problem. After taking the Steelers to the playoffs in his first six seasons, Bill Cowher went 7-9 and 6-10. Pittsburgh gave him time to correct the problems, and they made the postseason four more times and won the Super Bowl. Andy Reid had the Eagles in the playoffs five straight seasons, then went 6-10. Philadelphia stayed with him and he had them back in the postseason for four of the next five seasons.
Yes, he eventually dropped to 4-12 and was sent on his way. He seems to have done okay in Kansas City though. They’re in their ninth straight winning season, made the playoffs seven of eight years, and have a Lombardi Trophy to show for Reid’s efforts. Not too bad for a guy who went 4-12.
I haven’t even gotten to the good stuff. I know how much we all love the name Bill Walsh here, but he’s another prime example of trusting in a great coach. The Niners won it all in Walsh’s third year, then dropped to 3-6 immediately after. Yeah, it was the strike season, but Joe Montana and Ronnie Lott were still there; almost everybody was. Did San Francisco panic? Nope; they just watched Walsh take them back to the playoffs six times and win two more titles.
And now my personal favorite. There was a coach who won a Super Bowl in one city but wanted a new challenge. He took over a team starting its fifth season and immediately took them to the postseason; this after they’d compiled a 15-39-2 record in their first four years. In his second year, he had his new team in the Super Bowl. They won the next two titles and made the playoffs the following season. The team: the Miami Dolphins, and the coach, the NFL’s all-time leader in wins, Don Shula.
The Dolphins missed the playoffs for three straight years then, although they had just one losing season (6-8) in that stretch. Miami knew they had a good thing, though, and gave Shula time to right the ship. Seven playoff appearances in eight years seems pretty right to me. Four more years in the wasteland without postseason football followed, but Shula took Miami to the playoffs in four of the next six seasons. That’s eleven trips to the playoffs in eighteen years after most coaches would have been fired. I’d take that.
As a reminder, Pete Carroll has taken the Seahawks to the playoffs in nine of his eleven seasons up to this year. That’s a far better percentage than Mike Holmgren or Chuck Knox or, heaven help us, Tom Flores. Does Pete need to make some changes? Why yes, yes he does. Has he established that he’s in the same league as coaches like Cowher, Reid, Walsh, and Shula? His overall winning percentage with the Seahawks is .618, even with this miserable season. That’s higher than Walsh and just a few percentage points below Cowher. Pete Carroll has more than earned the right to take the Seahawks back to the top of the league.