The Seahawks recently announced changes to their coaching staff, and while there were a couple of new hires, the majority of the moves came in the form of internal promotions, not outside hires. That's something that happens by design on a Pete Carroll-coached team.
"Through my years of being a head coach, I have always liked developing our young coaches and bringing them up through our staff as they gain experience and understanding of the way we do things," Carroll said. "I've always felt that we develop their value while they're with us to the point where we don't always go outside; we nurture our young guys and elevate them. That's been the way I've been doing it for years, and it's always worked out. It has always been important to me to help our guys move along too. I feel like we kind of raise them through the program and support them, and try to give them the opportunity to move up and move on when the time comes. That's why we're doing this."
To Carroll the ideal scenario is to have a young coach, perhaps one who started as a quality control coach, make himself so valuable to the team that the Seahawks have no choice but to promote them or lose them to a promotion elsewhere. Kris Richard, Seattle's defensive coordinator and a candidate for head coaching jobs this offseason, began his career as a graduate assistant under Carroll at USC before quickly climbing the ranks. Current receivers coach Dave Canales was a quality control coach early in his tenure with Seattle, the same route some of Seattle's recently-promoted assistants have taken.
"Kris was a GA a million years ago and worked his way up, that's probably the best example," Carroll said. "… The phrase I like is that I think young people are called upon to develop their own value and create their own value in a working environment. I've always believed that. That's what I'm trying to do, help them become more valuable to us so that we can't be without them, we have to elevate them to make sure that they stay."
The four young assistants earning promotions this offseason are Nick Sorenson, who is now the team's secondary coach, Chad Morton, the new running backs coach, John Glenn, who is now an assistant linebackers coach, and former Seahawks linebacker/special teams standout Heath Farwell, who is now an assistant special teams coach.
In addition to the young coaches moving up, the Seahawks also moved former defensive line coach Travis Jones to a new role of senior defensive assistant, with former Bears assistant Clint Hurtt joining Dwaine Board as one of the team's two defensive line coaches. Tom Donatell is also new to the staff as a quality control coach/defense. Additionally, linebackers coach Michael Barrow adds the title of assistant head coach/defense, which was formally held by Rocky Seto, who left coaching following the 2016 season to become a minister.
Here is what Carroll had to say about his recently-promoted assistants and the two new hires:
"Michael Barrow is moving to become a defensive assistant head coach. It's an opportunity for me to utilize Mike's talents and expertise, his feel for the game, and give him a bigger role and bigger say in what's going on. I anticipate him becoming a real factor in helping us grow as a defense. Mike's a guy who's destined to be a defensive coordinator in this league. I'm really happy to be able to help him move up too in terms of responsibility."
"Nick Sorensen is going to turn his focus to the secondary to share his expertise having played there for all those years. He did a great job for us on special teams, but we really want him to focus on the defensive side of the ball. He brings a wealth of experience and a real savvy for our style of play.
"I foresee with Nick Sorensen that he's going to be a coordinator in this league. He already could be on special teams, now he's going to develop his defensive stuff, and I see him moving up. Nick has had chances to go other places and he has chosen to stay here and work in our system. I really see him as having a bright future, and we're just glad to see his loyalty to the program and how much he loves being here and how much he wants to stay and grow with us."
"Chad takes over the running backs; he's been working with them for the last couple of years. His ability to connect with the players is obvious and he brings an energy that we really like to the offensive side of the ball. He has a very demanding approach to the game that I think is really going to help our young guys develop."
"Heath is moving up as the assistant special teams coach, taking over a lot of responsibility there. He did a great job last year with us and has always been a program guy who just seemed to fit well. He was always was really good at mentoring younger players when he was here. He's just a natural coach and fits the bill. He brings a lot of enthusiasm and experience at all of the positions. He relates really well to the young guys."
Carroll noted that Farwell was working towards a coaching career while still playing, particularly in his final season when he was sidelined with an injury: "We were talking about it when he was still playing that he wanted to be a coach. Whenever I know that about guys, I talk to them differently, kind of let them in on stuff, share perspectives and reasons why, just to try to get them thinking like a coach. That began early with Heath when he was here (as a player)."
"John Glenn moves up to be the assistant linebackers coach. John has done an incredible job, he started with special teams, worked with the defense as the quality control guy in the past. He does a really good job, brings a lot of intensity, a real energetic guy. I really like the way he connects with the players."
"Clint Hurtt comes in to be the defensive line coach. I'm really fired up to get him. He's has a really well-rounded background. He brings us new thoughts and new ideas like we always are looking for as we always work to continue to stay at the cutting edge of things. I think he's going to be a big factor for us. We're counting on him to be a pass-rush specialist. He should be a great complement to our staff."
"Tom comes to us from UCLA. He played at Iowa… He's a really bright young coach is going to take over quality control stuff and work with the linebackers. I was really impressed with his understanding. He's obviously a natural; he's going to be a really good coach."
Tom Donatell's father Ed, who is currently the defensive backs coach for the Chicago Bears, worked with Carroll at the University of Pacific when Carroll was the defensive coordinator there in 1983.
"He's been a great coach in the league for years," Carroll said of Ed Donatell. "We kind of found him way back when at UOP, so we go way, way back. He raised himself a good one in Tom."
Photos of Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll meeting with the media on Thursday, March 2 at the 2017 NFL Combine in Indianapolis, Indiana.