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Seahawks bombshells: Mora out, Carroll in?

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Dan Arkush

darkush@pfwmedia.com
Executive editor

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Posted Jan. 08, 2010 @ 4 p.m. ET
By Dan Arkush

PFW asked a team source in Seattle a few days after the Seahawks’ demoralizing home loss to the lowly Buccaneers in Week 15 if first-year head coach Jim Mora might be in danger of losing his job. “I think he’s probably safe,” the source said, “but the wheels have certainly gotten a lot wobblier.”

The wheels fell off completely Friday for Mora, who is “one and done” after a 5-11 season in which his team got progressively worse. Not long after the news broke of Mora’s firing following a Friday-morning meeting with Seahawks management, the bombshells continued to drop in the Pacific Northwest when ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported that the Seahawks were making a full-court press to hire Pete Carroll away from USC.

Mora, who first joined the Seahawks in January 2007 as a defensive assistant after being the head coach of the Falcons from 2004-06, thus becomes the shortest-tenured head coach in Seahawks history. Seahawks CEO Tod Leiweke told the local media last month that he expected Mora to coach next season. But after a four-game losing streak to finish the regular season — including three lopsided losses to the Texans, Bucs and Packers by a combined score of 106-24 — the team’s braintrust apparently decided that a complete overhaul was the way to go, especially with the possibility of luring Carroll away from the college ranks apparently becoming a realistic alternative.

The PFW spin

The prevailing feeling among league sources was that the Seahawks’ first order of business was going to be the hiring of a new GM to replace departed GM Tim Ruskell, with interviews expected to begin in earnest next week. But a strong interest in Carroll obviously suggests a different game plan, with Carroll presumably being envisioned as the No. 1 football man in the organization with all-encompassing power — the same situation Mike Holmgren enjoyed in Seattle for what was, for the most part, a very fruitful decade.
 
The list of Seahawks’ GM candidates stood at six before the Carroll rumor broke, with Giants director of college scouting Marc Ross just Thursday added to the mix. A few days ago, NFL.com reported the Seahawks had narrowed their list of GM candidates down from 10 to the following five possibilities: (in no particular order) Ravens director of player personnel Eric DeCosta, Packers director of football operations John Schneider, Cardinals director of player personnel Steve Keim, Eagles GM Tom Heckert and Seahawks interim GM Ruston Webster.

It’s hard to gauge how much that list has changed with Carroll possibly having somebody else specifically in mind for the GM job — perhaps longtime crony and former NFL executive Pat Kirwan.

Mora, who reportedly has roughly $12 million remaining on the final three years of his contract, put up a good front to the end, showing no outward signs last Wednesday in his final big meeting of the year with the local media that a shake-up might be brewing. The early word out of Seattle was that he was totally caught off guard by the decision to let him go Friday morning.

But, unlike the Bears, who stepped up to the plate with possibly job-saving victories for head coach Lovie Smith in their last two games, the Seahawks just kept melting down under increased scrutiny as the season painfully wore on.

That was particularly the case with the offense, which averaged a paltry 9.3 points in the last four games. Normally reliable veteran QB Matt Hasselbeck never looked worse, and there were strong behind-the-scene indications that certain players might not be buying into offensive coordinator’s Greg Knapp zone run-oriented offense.

Growing rumors of an increasingly unhappy locker room, continued outcries for major change by the local media and — last but not least — the apparent sudden availability of the high-profile Carroll all added up to a very black Friday for Mora.

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