NFC West: Dan Quinn

It produced the Rant Heard Round the World afterward, but it was also the play that sent the Seattle Seahawks to the Super Bowl.

No. 2 -- Richard Sherman and Malcolm Smith make the game-saving play in the NFC Championship.

[+] EnlargeRichard Sherman
MCT via Getty ImagesThe Seahawks may not have even played in the Super Bowl if not for a game-saving play by Richard Sherman and Malcolm Smith on the 49ers' Michael Crabtree.
Trailing 23-17, the San Francisco 49ers had a first-and-10 at the Seattle 18 in the final seconds. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick tried to get the ball to Michael Crabtree in the back corner of the end zone, but Sherman leaped and tipped it into the hands of Smith for the interception.

Many people, however, will only remember what came a few moments later with Sherman’s screaming rant against Crabtree on national TV, but it might have been the 49ers in the Super Bowl instead of the Seahawks if not for that play by Sherman and Smith.

That play was one of the few times Kaepernick challenged Sherman all game. It was a type of throw that rarely works against the All-Pro cornerback. But Smith didn’t get enough credit for finishing the play, using his speed to race to the ball and make the interception.

Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn has a saying for his players: “Good things happen to those who run.” It’s certainly true for Smith, one of the league’s fastest linebackers. He proved it in the Super Bowl with his 69-yard pick-6 that made him the MVP.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It has been at least 13 years and probably more since a team dominated a Super Bowl the way the Seattle Seahawks did Sunday night at MetLife Stadium, winning 43-8 over the Denver Broncos. They scored touchdowns on offense, defense and special teams -- all after recording a safety on the first snap of the game. And they didn't give up any points until the end of the third quarter after building a 36-0 lead. The result is a report card that would be the envy of an Ivy League college applicant.

PASSING OFFENSE


It was as good as it had to be. Russell Wilson's passer rating was 123.1, eight different players caught his passes and he wasn't sacked or intercepted. Seattle raced out to a huge first-half lead, so Wilson didn't need to put up gaudy stats to win. But he was 4-of-5 for 64 yards on third-down plays in the first quarter, when the game was still in doubt, and he was still flinging it around in the fourth quarter as the Seahawks padded their lead.


RUSHING OFFENSE


Marshawn Lynch struggled to find room against Terrance Knighton and a Broncos defensive front focused on stopping the run. But Seattle's yards-per-carry average got a boost from Percy Harvin's 15-yard and 30-yard runs on jet sweep plays, and Lynch was able to muscle into the end zone on second down from the 1-yard line after a pass interference penalty in the end zone set up the game's first touchdown.


PASSING DEFENSE


Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning won his fifth MVP award for a season in which he threw a record 55 touchdown passes. But he was a mess all night against Seattle's pass rush, throwing two interceptions. Led by Cliff Avril, Seattle's line moved Manning off his spot all night and batted down some key passes while the big, physical defensive backs made life miserable for Broncos receivers before and after the catch. The "Legion of Boom" lived up to its name, outmuscling the top-scoring offense in NFL history.


RUSHING DEFENSE


Total domination. And yeah, the Broncos had to get away from the run because they were down 15-0 before they had a chance to run their offense. But Seattle's front bottled up Knowshon Moreno and Montee Ball, holding Denver to 27 yards rushing on 14 carries, forcing a fumble (that Denver recovered) and stripping the Broncos of any chance to maintain any level of balance on offense.


SPECIAL TEAMS


Harvin barely played all season. Finally healthy, he was a difference-maker in the biggest game of his career. Seattle's 22-0 halftime lead looked tough to overcome, but the 29-0 lead they had 12 seconds into the half after Harvin's 87-yard kickoff return for a touchdown looked impossible. Seattle's kick coverage team held electric Denver return man Trindon Holliday in check.


COACHING


Give Pete Carroll the grade for the full year, as every move he made seemed to pay off. He had enough faith in his defense to let Manning start the game with the ball after he won the coin toss and to kick a first-quarter field goal instead of going for it on fourth-and-short inside the Denver 10. He also stayed aggressive even as his team was rolling early, calling timeout on a Denver fourth-and-2 from the Seattle 19 with 1:06 left in the first half. Seattle didn't even try to move the ball in the final minute after stopping the Broncos and taking possession, but it showed a coach in control of the game. You also have to hand Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn the victory over Denver offensive coordinator Adam Gase in the matchup of hot head-coaching candidates.

A look at the Seattle Seahawks' offseason to this point ...

What went right: A soft free-agent market allowed Seattle to add Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett on short-term deals, strengthening the team's pass rush, its No. 1 need area while Chris Clemons recovers from knee surgery. ... Signing strong safety Kam Chancellor to a contract extension showed the Seahawks could take care of their own players even after splurging to acquire Percy Harvin from Minnesota. ... Acquiring Harvin fits into this category as well. We can debate the price Seattle paid. We can all agree Seattle added a supremely talented 24-year-old recent MVP candidate. Teams don't acquire such players very often. ... Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell signed a new contract to remain with the team after interviewing for head coaching positions. ... Dan Quinn, who had worked under coach Pete Carroll in 2010, was available to fill the void at defensive coordinator. ... Antoine Winfield was eager to sign with Seattle at a reasonable price, providing a welcome option at slot corner.

What went wrong: The Seahawks lost defensive coordinator Gus Bradley to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Bradley had been one of the most valued assistant coaches on staff. ... The Seahawks got little from Oakland in the Matt Flynn trade. Perhaps teams simply aren't that excited about Flynn, whose options in free agency appeared limited last offseason. Perhaps the trade market for unproven quarterbacks died too soon for the Seahawks to leverage a better deal. A combination of both could have affected the situation. ... Defensive lineman Greg Scruggs required reconstructive surgery after suffering a knee injury during a training drill.

The bottom line: The Seahawks appear better on paper for the moves they made this offseason, and they were already pretty good.

Your turn: Any significant omissions here?
Dan Quinn interviewed to become the Seattle Seahawks' defensive coordinator back in 2009, when Jim Mora was the head coach.

The job went to Gus Bradley instead.

Quinn wound up coaching the defensive line under Mora and current coach Pete Carroll before leaving to become defensive coordinator at the University of Florida.

Seattle quickly hired back Quinn as coordinator Thursday when Bradley left to become head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Seahawks know what they are getting in Quinn. The fit must be right for Seattle to move so quickly. This seems like a logical move to make. The transition should be smooth and there should be no significant changes to the defensive scheme. Seattle led the NFL in points allowed this season.

One question is whether Bradley will be taking his close friend and associate Todd Wash with him to Jacksonville. Wash coaches the Seahawks' defensive line. Quinn's status as former defensive line coach would provide some protection for the Seahawks if the team allowed Wash to accompany Bradley. Former San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Bryant Young was the line coach under Wash at Florida. Might he come along if Wash departs?

Quinn had this to say in 2009 when asked about his coaching style:

"First off, when you’re in the classroom, I think you’re a teacher first. If you ask most of the coaches, 'How’d you get into coaching to start off?' a lot of us would say that we enjoy that teaching part of it, and developing the guys, putting the game plan together. And then out on the field, I would say I coach with an up-tempo style. Some would say it would be aggressive. I coach with a lot of energy.

"Ultimately, as a player or as a coach, you have to answer the kind of question, ‘What do you want your team to look like?’ That’ll be something I may say to the players, but ultimately, that’s me too. I want our tape to look a certain way, where our guys are playing hard, and playing physical."

Around the NFC West: Bradley to Jags

January, 17, 2013
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The Jacksonville Jaguars have hired Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley as their next head coach.

This move has significant repercussions in the NFC West.

It pushes Seattle into the market for a defensive coordinator while removing what had been considered a likely landing spot for San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman. And with Arizona having interviewed Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell on Wednesday, it's now possible Seattle will lose both coordinators to head coaching jobs. That would stand as a setback for the Seahawks.

Bradley's hiring also makes the St. Louis Rams much more likely to keep offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, who had interviewed for the job in Jacksonville.

The Seahawks had been expecting Bradley to become the next head coach in Philadelphia. Chip Kelly's surprise hiring headed off that scenario. Bradley then interviewed with Jacksonville, but there was still some thought that Roman would get strong consideration. Roman and new Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell were college teammates and roommates.

The 49ers now appear likely to keep together their coaching staff unless Arizona moves on Roman following the 49ers' NFC Championship Game appearance against Atlanta.

Some have asked whether Seahawks linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. might become the new defensive coordinator in Seattle. I've never heard Norton's name come up as a candidate for coordinator. Former Seattle defensive line coach and assistant head coach Dan Quinn, now the defensive coordinator at the University of Florida, is one potential candidate. There could be others, for sure.

With Bradley heading for the AFC South, here are a few thoughts on other NFC West names in the news:
  • John Idzik, Seattle Seahawks vice president of football administration: Idzik is a finalist to become general manager of the New York Jets. He has been most involved in managing the Seahawks' salary cap. The team enters the offseason with more than $18 million in cap space. The Jets' cap situation is problematic. The GM title usually carries expectations for personnel evaluation. Idzik worked for Arizona and Tampa Bay previously. He has been with Seattle since Tim Ruskell hired him in 2007. More recently, Idzik has worked closely with Seahawks general manager John Schneider with an eye toward developing his personnel evaluation. Idzik was a wide receiver at Dartmouth, graduating with honors in 1982.
  • Darrell Bevell, Seahawks offensive coordinator. Bevell met Wednesday with Cardinals officials regarding their coaching vacancy. There's not much new since we discussed Bevell in relation to the Cardinals earlier in the week. Bevell interviewed with Jacksonville as well. Arizona added Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians to its list of candidates. Arians, like Bevell, worked with a successful rookie quarterback in 2012. He also worked previously with Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton when both were with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Horton has interviewed for the head-coaching vacancy, but Arizona has otherwise focused on coaches with backgrounds on offense.
  • Brian Schottenheimer, St. Louis Rams offensive coordinator. Schottenheimer was a candidate for the Jaguars' job. He was a finalist one year ago. The Rams have had three offensive coordinators over the past three seasons. They would like to keep Schottenheimer and build continuity over time. The team plans to keep its basic offensive system even if Schottenheimer departs. It's now looking highly likely that Schottenheimer will be back.

Around the NFC West: Coaching updates

January, 15, 2013
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A quick look around the NFC West coaching landscape:
  • Arizona: The Cardinals are reportedly planning a second interview with Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy as the team searches for a new head coach. Some speculation points to McCoy preferring San Diego for the presence of quarterback Philip Rivers. That seems logical. However, most of the information regarding the candidates appears anonymously. A small number of people are in position to know the details. Most of those people have something to gain from what information is released and how that information is presented. It's tough to know what McCoy really thinks, but the quarterback situation in Arizona isn't going to excite any candidate.
  • St. Louis: Coach Jeff Fisher is searching for a defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. Rob Ryan, most recently defensive coordinator for Dallas, is reportedly the favorite to fill the same role for the Rams. Very little information has filtered out of Rams headquarters on this subject, however.
  • Seattle: Coordinators Darrell Bevell (offense) and Gus Bradley (defense) are getting second interviews with Chicago and Philadelphia, respectively. Bevell and CFL coach Marc Trestman are finalists with the Bears. Another prominent Seahawks assistant, Tom Cable, has not surfaced as a candidate elsewhere. If Bradley left, I suspect he would want to take along defensive line coach Todd Wash. The two coached together with Tampa Bay previously. They played together and coached together at North Dakota State. However, the Seahawks would have to let Wash out of his contract. Dan Quinn, the Seahawks' former defensive line coach, would be a logical candidate to replace Bradley in Seattle if Bradley did get the Philadelphia job. Quinn is the defensive coordinator at Florida.
  • San Francisco: Not much new here. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman has been linked informally to Jacksonville based on his past association with Jaguars general manager David Caldwell. Niners director of player personnel Tom Gamble interviewed with the New York Jets.
Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley is a candidate to succeed Andy Reid as the Philadelphia Eagles' head coach.

The Eagles announced they have received permission to interview Bradley next week.

Bradley has been known to make positive impressions.

Former Seahawks coach Jim Mora had been expected to name Dan Quinn as his defensive coordinator in 2009. Mora changed his mind after interviewing Bradley. It was nothing against Quinn, who advanced on his own and now serves as defensive coordinator for the University of Florida. Bradley simply impressed Mora beyond reasonable expectations. Mora named Bradley coordinator and Quinn to coach the defensive line.

Longtime NFL assistant Monte Kiffin, who had worked with Mora on the New Orleans Saints staff in 1995, had recommended Bradley for the coordinator's job.

Mora explained it this way in 2009: "Monte says, 'J.L., listen to me. I have got a guy here in Tampa that is one of, if not, the finest football coaches I have ever worked with. He's an A-plus. He's a once-in-a-lifetime coach. You need to talk to him.' He said, 'J.L., this guy is special. You have to bring him in.' "

When the Seahawks fired Mora unexpectedly after one season, incoming coach Pete Carroll kept Bradley in place as coordinator, citing an endorsement from Kiffin. Kiffin worked with Carroll in Minnesota and with Bradley in Tampa Bay.

I don't know how many coordinators have stuck around when one head coach replaced another and all three men traced their backgrounds to the same side of the ball. Usually, a new coach comes in with new ideas and specific people in mind for the highest-ranking positions. New coaches usually are looking to break from the past, not build upon it.

Bradley's staying power through a tumultuous time in Seattle speaks well of him.

The chart shows Seattle's defensive stats over the past four seasons. The row for "Defensive EPA" refers to expected points added by the defense. Negative numbers are better than positive ones.
Good morning, and welcome back following Memorial Day Weekend.

We're now less than two months away from the opening of training camps across the NFL.

These will be the slowest two months of the league calendar, at least for football junkies. But with polls and faux commercials to entertain and/or aggravate us, we're making it through. Mandatory minicamps scheduled for June 12-14 offer near-term sustenance.

Let's kick off this week with a Super Bowl prediction. Not mine, but one from a veteran 49ers beat reporter.

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com is predicting a 49ers victory in Super Bowl XLVII, scheduled for New Orleans. Maiocco: "They will not finish the regular season with a 13-3 record because of a difficult schedule. ... But they should be a better all-around team. The front office kept the defense intact ... and they've added multiple big-play threats to assist an inconsistent offense. But this prediction is less about the newcomers pushing the 49ers over the top than the players already on board getting better." Noted: Maiocco lays out a logical case. I can think of three primary concerns. Quarterback health is one. The 49ers exceeded expectations in that area a year ago. Turnovers could even out some. Also, the 49ers benefited from playing postseason games at home last season. That is one key variable that could flip against San Francisco, particularly if that tough schedule leads to a lesser record. Alex Smith was generally much better at home last season. The 49ers played two close playoff games at home. Those games would be tougher to win on the road.

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune sees a fitter Leroy Hill at Seahawks camp. Hill has never had one of those insanely cut NFL physiques, but with his body fat at 12 percent, he's looking leaner as his 30th birthday approaches in September. Hill: "I feel amazing. A little more muscle and leaner … I committed to the offseason program and I've been going hard and feeling great. I feel … youthful."

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com notes the connection between former Seahawks defensive line coach Dan Quinn and new draft choice Jaye Howard. Farnsworth: "The Seahawks initially were attracted by Howard’s speed. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.82 seconds at the NFL scouting combine, but clocked a 4.72 in a later workout. They also liked the coaching he got at Florida -- where former Seahawks D-line coach Dan Quinn is the Gators’ coordinator and Bryant Young, a four-time Pro Bowl D-tackle during his career with the 49ers, was his position coach."

Doug Haller of the Arizona Republic says Cardinals defensive lineman Nick Eason has dropped 40 pounds since last season, a one-time correction after slowly adding weight throughout his career. Eason: "I like the sport of boxing and I saw how well-conditioned those guys are in. If you don't believe it, try to box three minutes. That's a long time when you're fighting." Noted: It's easy to discount these types of offseason stories about players rededicating themselves. However, lost weight is lost weight, and if Eason is down 40 pounds, that will play a significant role in shaping his season.

Kathleen Nelson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch checks in with Sam Bradford and the Rams' rookie receivers. One of the rookies, Brian Quick, took a red-eye back from rookie orientation in California after missing a flight when his headphones prevented him from hearing about a gate change. Quick: "I was waiting for three hours, so I had to listen to something. But I don't want to make excuses. They made an announcement, but my headphones were loud. It's a big airport. There were five of us that missed the flight. I've learned from my mistakes and moved forward." Noted: That type of mistake is easy to make, especially for athletes accustomed to team-organized travel in groups.
Todd Wash's shared history with Gus Bradley in Monte Kiffin's Tampa Bay defense made him a natural hire for Pete Carroll and the Seahawks.

Wash, announced Tuesday as the Seahawks' defensive line coach, broke into the NFL with Tampa Bay when Kiffin was the Bucs' defensive coordinator in 2007. Bradley coached the Bucs' linebackers when Wash was coaching their defensive line.

Kiffin and Carroll were together with the Minnesota Vikings in the 1980s. Carroll referenced their shared coaching lineage when explaining why he retained Bradley as defensive coordinator from the Seahawks' previous staff.

Wash replaces Dan Quinn, who left to become defensive coordinator at Florida. Wash was the Bucs' defensive line coach for the past three seasons. He was a quality control coach in 2007.

The Bucs' defensive line struggled in 2010.

In November, NFC South blogger Pat Yasinskas offered the following thoughts when asked whether the team should fire Wash:
The Bucs are 5-3 and you’re talking about firing assistant coaches? Give it some time and try to be realistic. The Bucs drafted defensive tackles Gerald McCoy and Brian Price with their first two draft picks and second-year pro Roy Miller has been one of the starting defensive tackles. Price got hurt. McCoy hasn’t been dominant, but it’s not realistic to expect him to be dominant right off the bat. Besides that, he’s got nothing around him.

The Bucs probably have the league’s worst set of defensive ends. They knew coming in that defensive end was not a position of strength and I’m sure that position will be addressed in the offseason. I can’t put the blame on a coach when he’s got nothing to work with. His job the rest of this season is to keep working on McCoy. Next season, the Bucs can bring in help at defensive end and McCoy should take a big step forward.

I don't know much about Wash. The Seahawks thought highly of Quinn, enough so that Carroll held him over from the previous staff.

Seattle also announced that assistant secondary coach Kris Richard would coach cornerbacks, and defensive quality control coach Rocky Seto would coach safeties. They replace secondary coach Jerry Gray, who left for a job at the University of Texas.

Richard played for the Seahawks. He and Seto came to Seattle with Carroll from USC last offseason.
Frequent coaching turnover is part of life in the NFL.

The Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams and San Francisco 49ers have had 10 head coaches, interim or otherwise, since Arizona hired Ken Whisenhunt for the 2007 season.

Pete Carroll, Steve Spagnuolo and Jim Harbaugh remain from a group that has included Mike Holmgren, Jim Mora, Scott Linehan, Jim Haslett, Mike Nolan, Mike Singletary and Jim Tomsula. NFC West head coaches are set for 2011, but all four teams have staff openings.

As Qwest12thMan noted in the comments of an earlier item, the Seahawks are losing another high-profile assistant coach. Jerry Gray is leaving his job coaching the secondary to become assistant head coach and secondary coach at Texas, his alma mater.

Seattle has now lost offensive line coach Alex Gibbs, quarterbacks coach Jedd Fisch, defensive line coach Dan Quinn and Gray from Carroll's inaugural Seattle staff. Gibbs' departure affected the Seahawks' commitment to the specific zone-blocking scheme he promoted. The team wants a more consistent approach from training camp through the season, and coaching continuity should allow that to happen.

St. Louis remains without an offensive coordinator after interviewing former Denver Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels for the role. The Rams' staff could face additional changes if the team hires a coordinator from the outside. NFL Network suggests McDaniels could be headed to the Rams.

The 49ers have multiple positions open.

Arizona remains without a defensive coordinator, an indication Whisenhunt could be waiting for a candidate to become available following the playoffs. Whisenhunt's history with the Steelers makes Pittsburgh a logical place for him to turn, but linebackers coach Keith Butler might be off-limits. Ray Horton coaches the Steeler's secondary. Their line coach, John Mitchell, is also assistant head coach.

Coaching world turns in NFC West

January, 3, 2011
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A year ago, Teryl Austin left the Arizona Cardinals' coaching staff to become defensive coordinator at the University of Florida.

Urban Meyer's resignation as Gators coach led to a staff change at Florida, clearing the way for Dan Quinn, the Seattle Seahawks' defensive line coach the last two seasons, to take the job Austin held. This is a natural step for Quinn, who has a strong reputation. Quinn has aspirations to become a head coach eventually, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Monday during his day-after-game news conference.

Quinn played a role in Red Bryant's conversion from defensive tackle to defensive end, a move that helped Seattle field an effective run defense until Bryant suffered a season-ending knee injury at Oakland.

We should expect additional staff changes in the division over the coming days. The San Francisco 49ers will surely change up their staff once they hire a new head coach. The Arizona Cardinals appear likely to make changes, particularly on the defensive side, following a 5-11 season.

Sounding off: NFC West on the airwaves

August, 13, 2010
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The latest in our periodic spin around the NFC West radio dials:
Rams

101ESPN St. Louis: center Jason Brown
101ESPN St. Louis
: ESPN's Chris Mortensen on Brian Westbrook
101ESPN St. Louis
: Rick Venturi
101ESPN St. Louis
: linebacker James Laurinaitis
101ESPN St. Louis
: running back Chris Ogbonnaya
101ESPN St. Louis
: coach Steve Spagnuolo


49ers

KNBR680 San Francisco: columnist Lowell Cohn
KNBR680 San Francisco: coach Mike Singletary


Cardinals

XTRA910 Phoenix: coach Ken Whisenhunt
XTRA910 Phoenix: guard Alan Faneca
XTRA910 Phoenix
: nose tackle Gabe Watson
XTRA910 Phoenix
: kicker Jay Feely
XTRA910 Phoenix
: quarterback Matt Leinart
XTRA910 Phoenix
: reporter Kent Somers
XTRA910 Phoenix
: receiver Larry Fitzgerald
KTAR620 Phoenix
: receiver Stephen Williams
KTAR620 Phoenix
: former kicker Neil Rackers
KTAR620 Phoenix
: defensive coordinator Bill Davis
KTAR620 Phoenix
: Hall of Famer Russ Grimm
KTAR620 Phoenix
: quarterbacks coach Chris Miller
KTAR620 Phoenix
: quarterback Max Hall
KTAR620 Phoenix
: guard Rex Hadnot

Seahawks
KJR950 Seattle: tight end Anthony McCoy
KJR950 Seattle
: defensive end Nick Reed
KJR950 Seattle
: defensive tackle Craig Terrill
KJR950 Seattle
: former coach Jim Mora
KJR950 Seattle
: columnist Dave Boling
KJR950 Seattle
: running back Julius Jones
KJR950 Seattle
: receiver Mike Williams
KJR950 Seattle
: receiver Deion Branch
101ESPN Seattle
: ESPN's John Clayton
101ESPN Seattle
: ESPN's Tim Hasselbeck
101ESPN Seattle
: linebacker Aaron Curry
101ESPN Seattle
: defensive line coach Dan Quinn

Didn't see much new on the 49ers at this time.
NFL assistant coaches are some of the best people to know for those looking to learn more about the game.

That has been my experience in covering the NFL since 1998.

I've helped push for better media access to assistants through the Professional Football Writers of America. I've also learned more about some of the issues important to coaches, including some outlined in this recent story about the NFL Coaches Association.

The chart shows NFLCA team reps as the association talks about forming a union.

Kevin Spencer (Cardinals), Johnnie Lynn (49ers), Dan Quinn (Seahawks) and Andy Sugarman (Rams) are the reps for NFC West coaching staffs. The 49ers' Jimmy Raye is president of the NFLCA executive committee.

It's not clear yet whether the NFLCA will move to unionize and such an effort would face a challenge even if the association did decide to move in that direction. But as coaches consider their options, these assistants presumably will be active behind the scenes.

Sizing up NFC West coaching staffs

February, 4, 2010
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MIAMI -- With the Seahawks announcing their 2010 coaching staff, I went through every NFC West team's staff to produce a chart allowing for easy comparison.

It's pretty clear the Cardinals do more with less than the other teams in the division. They have fewer assistants than the other teams in the NFC West.

In most cases, I have recreated official titles for each assistant coach. That explains why the Cardinals have no offensive coordinator listed (Russ Grimm coordinates the running game, Mike Miller coordinates the passing game and Ken Whisenhunt calls the plays). I did not create a special category for 49ers receivers coach Jerry Sullivan (he also carries the title senior assistant). Seattle's Carroll is also executive vice president. I did not create an extra category to reflect that title.

I have listed no offensive line coach for the Cardinals. Grimm handles those duties. The 49ers do not list a defensive quality control coach, but clearly someone must break down the upcoming opponents' offensive video (I am checking to see which assistant handles those duties). Update: Outside linebackers coach Jason Tarver handles those duties. Also, I updated the chart to reflect Curtis Modkins' departure from the Cardinals to become Buffalo's offensive coordinator. Ray Brown is the new assistant offensive line coach in San Francisco.

The Rams are expected to hire a receivers coach after Charlie Baggett left. They could hire an assistant offensive line coach to replace Art Valero, who took the same job with Seattle. The 49ers might need to find a new offensive quality-control coach (Shane Day is interviewing with the Bears to coach quarterbacks for Mike Martz).

The Rams and Seahawks list special assistants to the head coach. These are largely administrative positions.
RENTON, Wash. -- Thoughts and observations from the Seahawks' news conference to introduce new general manager John Schneider, hired away from the Packers:


AP Photo/John FroschauerJohn Schneider was introduced as the new Seahawks general manager Wednesday.
  • This is all about fit. Specifically, it's about Schneider fitting with coach Pete Carroll and helping to find players that fit precisely what Carroll wants. The Seahawks didn't do this as well in recent seasons when former GM Tim Ruskell was identifying players to fit his long-range plans while the team tried to win with Mike Holmgren's offense. Seattle should get more from its personnel this way.
  • Carroll holds the authority over personnel, CEO Tod Leiweke said, noting that Carroll would win any coin tosses. Schneider then said he would never try to cram a certain player into his head coach's roster, regardless of who had ultimate control of personnel. The structure arguably makes Schneider a better candidate than GM finalist Floyd Reese, who is older and more established in his ways. I got the sense Schneider and Carroll would work well together. It's in Schneider's nature to make this work. I sense he's a pure personnel guy, not someone who cares about getting the credit.
  • The Seahawks will not be making sweeping changes to their front office or scouting staff. Schneider knows quite a few of the people already in place. Ruston Webster, John Idzik and Will Lewis will remain with the organization, Leiweke indicated. Lewis and Schneider worked together in Seattle previously. The team's salary cap and contract negotiating arm -- headed by Idzik -- will report to Schneider. Carroll wants to pick players, but he doesn't want to be a GM or cap guy.
  • The Seahawks will become younger not by design but through an effort to encourage competition. The Packers have been one of the NFL's two youngest teams (along with the Colts) in recent seasons. Carroll was opposed to playing rookies during his past incarnation as a head coach. His outlook changed after coaching in college (Carroll compared that experience to being coach and GM, with the GM part changing his view). Personnel guys love to play young players. Seattle was the NFL's eighth-oldest team this week, not counting players signed to future contracts. That ranking will fall, no doubt.
  • The Seahawks are better off now than they were a few weeks ago. I do think the front office has a better chance to function without the infighting and competing agendas that marked previous regimes in recent seasons. That can help the Seahawks regain credibility lost over the last couple seasons.
  • Carroll addressed a few hires relating to his coaching staff. Jeremy Bates (offensive coordinator), Alex Gibbs (offensive line), Jedd Fisch (quarterbacks), Pat McPherson (tight ends), Gus Bradley (defensive coordinator), Dan Quinn (defensive line), Jerry Gray (secondary), Ken Norton Jr. (linebackers) and Brian Schneider (special teams) are in place.
  • The Seahawks are weighing the possibility of trying a 3-4 defensive alignment, but it's early.

Those were a few highlights. Heading home now.

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