By Chris Cluff
It’s never a surprise when a playoff team has its coaches and executives pursued by teams that are starting over.
With seven teams seeking new coaches already, the odds were pretty good that the Seahawks might hear from clubs interested in their top assistants.
Coach Pete Carroll knew it was possible, so he surely was not surprised when the Philadelphia Eagles came calling about defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. And he would not be surprised if offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and assistant head coach Tom Cable get calls either.
“Tom Cable’s been a head coach and Darrell and Gus (have) been in settings that can earn themselves the right to be considered,” Carroll told reporters earlier this week. “I wouldn’t be surprised if those guys were all considered. So we’ll see what happens.”
Carroll retained Bradley from Jim Mora’s staff because Bradley was familiar with the Tampa 2 defense Carroll used as his base.
Now in his fourth season as Seattle’s defensive coordinator, Bradley has helped turn the Hawks into the No. 1 scoring defense (15.3 points per game) and the No. 4 overall defense (306.2 yards per game).
Cable, the former coach of the Oakland Raiders, has put together one of the league’s top three run games. Bevell helped turned rookie quarterback Russell Wilson into perhaps the biggest surprise story in the league this season.
Seven teams fired their coaches on Black Monday. Kansas City quickly replaced Romeo Crennel with Andy Reid (who knows why?), and Cleveland apparently beat the Eagles to the punch on Oregon coach Chip Kelly, who is the next hot prospect out of the college ranks even though he doesn’t seem to know what a passing game is.
Also looking for coaches are Arizona, Buffalo, Chicago and San Diego.
Lovie Smith, surprisingly fired by the Bears after a 10-6 season, seems likely to claim one of those jobs. Buffalo is interested in both him and former Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt.
Denver offensive coordinator Mike McCoy is seemingly the hottest candidate out there, buoyed by the comeback success of Peyton Manning and the league’s No. 4 offense. Arizona, Chicago and Philadelphia all reportedly are interested in McCoy.
The Eagles and Chargers reportedly are interested in Bruce Arians, who masterfully guided the Colts to the playoffs while coach Chuck Pagano was fighting cancer.
The only other coach who has been linked to the Eagles is Mike Nolan, but it appears Bradley could end up going against Arians for the job.
San Diego has been slow to jump into the coach hunt, probably because the Chargers want to hire a general manager first.
In the end, the Hawks seem unlikely to lose Bevell or Cable, and, as good as Bradley has been, the Hawks could benefit from a more aggressive D-coordinator. Bradley has been such a strict adherent to the Tampa 2 at times that he has eschewed pressure schemes to the detriment of the team.
His defense gave up games in Detroit and Miami and nearly blew one in Chicago. Lack of pressure and poor zone defenses were big reasons for those failures.
Carroll tended to blame those losses on the youth of the defense, but good coaches win close games.
If Bradley goes, he would not be that hard to replace — especially when you consider that Carroll is the main brain behind Seattle’s defense.
One option could be Bradley’s mentor, Monte Kiffin, the architect of the Tampa 2 who is a coaching free agent.
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Chris Cluff worked as a sports editor and writer for The Seattle Times for 11 years and has written two books on the Seattle Seahawks. Since leaving the Times, he has written about the Seahawks and Seattle sports for Bleacher Report and the blog he shares with a fellow sportswriter, outsidethepressbox.com. His work can be found on Examiner.com.