Seahawks’ Sherman Smith Wasn’t The Problem

Sherman Smith

Sherman Smith, the Seahawk’s running backs coach for the past seven seasons has been let go by Coach Pete Carroll. Smith stated that Carroll told him it was simply a matter of wanting to make a change, rather than dissatisfaction with Smith’s performance. I may be wrong about this, but you don’t usually make a change just to make a change. It is a fact that the running game wasn’t getting it done in 2016. I have believe this was really Pete-speak for “Sorry, Sherm, the running game wasn’t getting the job done.”

The Seahawk’s rushing attack had averaged at least 135 yards per game from 2012 through 2015; last season, it dropped to just over 99 yards per game. Teams as terrible as the Jaguars and Brown had better running games. The Packers, who lost approximately 47 running backs to injury and wound up starting a wide receiver at the position, not only ran for more yards but at a much better average, 4.5 yards per carry compared to Seattle’s 3.9. When things go that far south and you’re the head coach, you have to do something.


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Now that you’re frothing at the mouth, asking how I missed the awful performance of the offensive line and blaming it all on Coach Smith, I didn’t, and I don’t. Smith has proven to be – let’s say at least a decent running back coach. His first gig in the NFL was with the Houston Oilers; beginning with in his second season, he coached a guy named Eddie George. Yeah, right, George was a can’t miss Heisman winner – I’ve got two names for you, Rashaan Salaam and Ron Dayne. There are no “can’t miss” players. Moving to the Washington Redskins, Smith coached a back named Clinton Portis, another guy who could run a little; and of course, there’s Beast Mode. Maybe Coach Smith was in the right place at the right time, but he certainly took advantage of it and got the most out of his players.

This season the Seahawks had no Marshawn Lynch, and his two replacements, Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise missed a combined 17 games. Rawls was hampered by injuries for most of the time he was active. The problem wasn’t the running backs, it was the offensive line failing to open holes, and failing to protect Russell Wilson, for that matter.

So why not fire offensive line coach Tom Cable? Because the line was even more of a patchwork group than the running back squad. The Seahawks spent a whopping total of 4.53 percent of their cap money on offensive linemen, easily the lowest in the league. The league average expenditure was 18 percent. When you shop for bargains, you get bargain quality, and Cable did a decent job with what he had.

When you’re the head coach, you have to make tough decisions. Often those decisions don’t exist in a vacuum, as one unit’s performance impacts another’s performance. The running game was bad, and I agree, it was time for a change, if for no other reason than to maintain the standards of excellence that Carroll requires. Pete knows far better than I do that the dropoff wasn’t Sherman’s fault. But the dropoff was unacceptable, and sometimes people get comfortable with the status quo. Sometimes, change for the sake of change is good.

Smith said he was seriously considering retiring before meeting with his boss, and certainly seems to be at peace with the change. He said that assistant running back coach Chad Morton, named the new position coach, has more energy, something Pete values. On the Brock and Salk show, Smith said “Heck, I’m 62 years old. I don’t run around like I did when I was 32.” Carroll offered him another position with the team, but Smith declined, saying that he came in to coach the running backs.

Smith wasn’t the problem, but it was the right time to make a change, regardless. So the Tank, who began his NFL career as the Seahawks’ first feature back way back in 1976, leaves the team forty-one years later. He was the first Seahawk to rush for 100 yards in a game, led the team in rushing for each of the team’s first four years, and is still Seattle’s seventh all-time leading rusher forty years later. He coached greats like Eddie George, Clinton Portis, and of course, Beast Mode. Seahawks fans owe Sherman Smith a lot. At 62, he may be ready to retire, but if another team is looking for man to fire up the backfield, we know a guy.

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