Pete Carroll has always loved talking about the coaches who influenced his career. From Minnesota legend Bud Grant, who Carroll describes as “an extraordinary person with incredible insight and understanding of people, and sports, and the world, and everything," to 49ers Hall of Fame coach Bill Walsh, to Monte Kiffin, who helped shape Carroll's philosophies on defense when Carroll was a graduate assistant at Arkansas in 1977.
"Monte Kiffin back in the day at Arkansas was the first time I was introduced to how we play defense," Carroll said last summer. "We're an offshoot of what we did then, if you can imagine that, we've been with the same principles that underlie everything that we're doing."
But as eager as Carroll is to give credit to the coaches who helped shape his career, a quick look around today's NFL shows that the Seahawks coach has himself become a big influencer in the coaching world.
Most notably, Dan Quinn, a defensive line coach and later defensive coordinator under Carroll, led the Falcons to the Super Bowl in his second year as Atlanta's head coach. And this offseason, the Falcons promoted Marquand Manuel to defensive coordinator. Manuel, a longtime NFL player whose career included a stop in Seattle, began his coaching career under Carroll in 2012 and spent three seasons in Seattle before following Quinn to Atlanta. The Falcons also turned to a former Carroll assistant when looking for an offensive coordinator, hiring Steve Sarkisian, a longtime Carroll assistant at USC and later a head coach there and at the University Washington.
The San Francisco 49ers also went with a former Carroll assistant when hiring a defensive coordinator this offseason, naming Robert Saleh to that position. Saleh spent three seasons under Carroll as a defensive quality control coach from 2011 to 2013, then joined Gus Bradley in Jacksonville after the former Seahawks defensive coordinator became the head coach in Jacksonville.
With Bradley now serving as the defensive coordinator in San Diego, and with Ken Norton Jr., who worked under Carroll at USC and in Seattle, entering his third season as Oakland's defensive coordinator, four NFL defenses, outside of Seattle's, will be led by former Carroll assistants in 2017, and new 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said last week that his team will run a defensive scheme similar to Seattle's.
"Playing Seattle over the years and knowing how hard that system is to go against," Shanahan said on San Francisco’s KNBR. "It's not necessarily how hard it is, it's how sound it is. They make you work for everything. It's always an eight man front. It's very tough to run the ball against. And they're very sound in their coverages. You can get some completions and things like that, but they make you work all the way down the field.
Carroll has long maintained that losing top assistants to promotions with other teams is not just the cost of success, but rather "a very positive thing," and current Seahawks assistants Kris Richard, Darrell Bevell and Tom Cable have all interviewed for head coaching jobs in recent years.
"Honestly to me, it's a very positive thing," Carroll said last month when asked about assistants moving on to new jobs. "When guys come to this program and we first talk about coming, I'll tell them I'll do everything I can to help them get wherever they want to go and do whatever they want to do with their careers. I mean that. When the opportunity comes up and our guys are getting some looks and stuff, I'm the first one cheerleading for them and working with them, in every way that I can. Whether it's getting ready for interviews, getting ready for staff stuff, whatever they want. I'm not trying to tell them what to do, I'm just there available to help them because I want them to do well."
Plenty of them are doing well, in no small part because of what they learned from Carroll. As Quinn noted last season, he never set out to build “Seattle East” in Atlanta, but there were still plenty of similarities between the way the two teams operated: "Of course I learned fantastic lessons from my time with Pete and (general manager John Schneider), and the players there for sure. But one of the best pieces of advice was, 'Hey, Q, do it your own way and let it rip.' That came from Pete, and I've tried to really stay true to that. There are definitely things that had a huge impact that we could go on for days about my time there, from coaching to players to management, but honestly all those experiences helped me create the vision of what I hoped to create here in Atlanta. That's what I was hoping to create."
The best photos from team photographer Rod Mar's behind-the-scenes 'Eye on the Hawks' photo blog from the Seattle Seahawks' 2016 NFL season.