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Monday, January 11, 2010
How Seahawks can help Carroll succeed

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Pete Carroll has pretty much confirmed his imminent hiring by the Seattle Seahawks.

Now comes the important part.

How much power have the Seahawks agreed to give him? I suspect it's less than advertised.

The Seahawks have already tried the coach-as-king setup. Mike Holmgren had the leverage when they hired him in 1999. Naming Holmgren general manager was the price of getting him as coach. Holmgren's run as GM wasn't a total failure, but neither was it successful enough for him to keep the title.

Pete Carroll
How much power Pete Carroll will have in Seattle remains to be seen.
Bestowing another coach with similar powers wouldn't make any sense, particularly if that coach lacked Holmgren's NFL credentials.

The Seahawks have also tried the opposite approach. They've armed a GM with powers over the coach. That worked well for a while, with Tim Ruskell helping get Holmgren's team to a Super Bowl, but not for the long haul. Once the team pried away GM powers from Holmgren, all future arrangements came with expiration dates because Holmgren so badly wanted the "juice" -- his word -- to command all levels of the organization.

This might be time for a more balanced approach. Let the GM oversee the draft and free agency. Give the coach control of the roster. Let both report to ownership directly or indirectly.

Floyd Reese, one of the candidates Seattle is considering for the GM job, worked alongside Jeff Fisher in such a system with Tennessee. The setup wasn't perfect, but it seemed to work pretty well for an extended period.

Ruskell's resignation and Jim Mora's firing have given the Seahawks a chance to synchronize their coach and GM for the first time since Holmgren held both titles. The change can be refreshing as long as the Seahawks hire the right people.

The reported candidates for the GM job -- Reese, Pittsburgh's Omar Kahn, the Giants' Marc Ross and Green Bay's John Schneider -- have varied backgrounds and qualifications.

It's still a little baffling to see the Seahawks apparently ignore a key architect for the team that dethroned them in the NFC West.

Steve Keim arose as a potential candidate almost immediately after Ruskell stepped down, but the Cardinals' director of player personnel hasn't yet surfaced as someone the team plans to interview. Perhaps the Seahawks were too busy conducting internal audits and clandestine interviews with Carroll to notice the Cardinals' 10-win regular season and 51-45 victory over the Packers in the wild-card round Sunday.

Keim has helped stock the Cardinals with young talent. Beanie Wells, Early Doucet, Steve Breaston and LaRod Stephens-Howling looked good against Green Bay. Think the Seahawks could use a cornerback such as Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie? Think they could use a defensive end as physically imposing as Calais Campbell?

Carroll could certainly use building blocks of that caliber.

I'm not convinced Carroll is the right coach, but neither is there enough evidence to say he's the wrong man for the job -- unless that job gives him powers far beyond those a coach typically enjoys. This team needs a qualified personnel evaluator to work alongside Carroll, not necessarily over him, and certainly not beneath him.