When the Seahawks selected Kris Richard in the third round of the 2002 NFL Draft, even his wildest dreams would not let him think ahead to what has just happened.
Richard was named the team's defensive coordinator on Monday, replacing Dan Quinn, who last week became the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons.
"I'm humbled by the whole entire experience and truly grateful," said Richard, the Seahawks' defensive backs coach the past three seasons after serving as defensive backs/cornerbacks coach and assistant defensive backs coach for one season each on coach Pete Carroll's staff.
"Obviously, we look to continue the standard that has been set. And we're actually going to do our best to raise the bar."
Richard, 35, inherits a defense that has led the NFL in average points allowed the past three seasons and in average yards allowed the past two seasons. And a lot of that has had to do with the performance of the unit he has been coaching, starting with the All-Pro trio of cornerback Richard Sherman, free safety Earl Thomas and strong safety Kam Chancellor.
In other moves, Micheal Barrow was named linebackers coach, replacing Ken Norton, Jr., who has become defensive coordinator of Oakland Raiders; Brennan Carroll, Carroll's oldest son, was hired as assistant offensive line coach; and former Seahawks linebacker Lofa Tatupu was named assistant linebackers coach.
Barrow has been the linebackers coach at the University of Miami the past eight seasons. He was an All-American linebacker for the Hurricanes before playing 13 NFL seasons with the Houston Oilers (1993-96), New York Giants (2000-03), Washington Redskins (2004) and Dallas Cowboys (2005). Barrow had 1,125 tackles, including 43 sacks, during his NFL career.
He takes over a strong group of linebackers who were developed by Norton, including All-Pro middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, weak-side linebacker and leading tackler K.J. Wright and versatile strong-side 'backer Bruce Irvin.
Tatupu is the only player in Seahawks' history to lead the team in tackles four consecutive seasons (2005-2008). He played for Carroll at the University of Southern California, but injuries ended his career with the Seahawks after the 2010 season – Carroll's first with the Seahawks. Tatupu was voted to the Pro Bowl three times and also to the Seahawks' 35th Anniversary team.
Brennan Carroll also has been at Miami the past four seasons, first as tight ends coach, then as wide receivers coach and all four as national recruiting coordinator. He also coached on his father's staff at USC, as an offensive assistant (2002-03), tight ends coach (2004-06) and tight ends/recruiting coordinator (2007-10).
Richard played for Carroll at USC and then joined his staff in 2008, before following him to Seattle.
The promotion of Richard and returns for Tatupu and Carroll bring continuity to a defense that has lost two coordinators in the past three seasons – first Gus Bradley, who left after the 2012 season to become head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars; and now Quinn – as well as the undeniable presence of Norton.
"I'm with guys right now who throughout this whole process are going to be awesome, from top to bottom," Richard said. "We're just looking forward to the challenge of putting everything back together again and getting everyone to play as one and keep this thing moving in its positive direction."