Seahawks Hiring Back Carl Smith Is A Good Sign In Rocky Times

When in doubt, call on ‘Tater’

If you’ve clicked onto this piece, I probably don’t need to tell you that the Seattle Seahawks have found themselves in some rocky waters these days with their star quarterback. Anyone who follows this team knows that more and more stuff has been trickling through the news cycle about the divide between the player and the team’s head coach and vice president.

I’ve been resistant to write that I see any sort of trading away of Russell Wilson as something that could realistically happen this year. In fact, I’ve repeatedly wrote that, despite all the noise, I don’t see it happening.

However, when his agent made it known to all late last week that while Russell doesn’t want to leave Seattle, he has a preference of four teams that he would like to be dealt to if Seattle were to choose to deal him, that moved my needle considerably. Now, I am not nearly so sure.

Call me crazy, but I sorta think that when someone says that they don’t want to be traded away, but then gives four destinations of places that they would like to be traded to, and then makes it known through the media, that dude probably wants to be traded. They’re just trying to find the nicest way of breaking to the fans. That’s just my honest take on the matter, anyways, and I’ve been through enough broken relationships to know the signs whenever I see them coming.

When this stuff came out late last week on the heals of a fairly explosive article written in The Athletic detailing the growing divide between Russell and Pete Carroll, my needle shifted so much that I decided to start drafting a piece exploring a best case trade scenario for the team. The main reason for it is that two of the Russell’s preferred destinations are presently without a franchise quarterback, and another one is coached by an individual who has long been one of his biggest admirers. In my mind, it’s entirely possible that a bidding war could brew between a few of these clubs, and while Seattle may not want to move on from it’s disgruntled star, an offer could be eventually presented to them that would make them finally consider it.

If that happens, I now think it is possible that they could move on from him this year. I think that the divide between Russ and Pete is significant enough where if the right deal is presented, Seattle would move on, and start a new chapter of Pete Carroll football. I’ve started bracing for that.

Enter Carl ‘Tater’ Smith

Diehard Twelves will probably remember the name ‘Tater’ Smith from Russell Wilson’s first six years in the league. If you are a diehard follower of the team and Russ, and you’ve sat through numerous Russell Wilson press conferences during that stretch of time, you’ve probably heard Russ mention good ol’ Tater often. Carl Smith was Russell’s quarterback coach during that time, and in all likelihood, the one person on the staff closest to the player. Russ has repeatedly mention Tater in only the glowing-est of terms over the years.

When Seattle moved on from Tater Smith a couple years back, I wondered how that would effect Russell. Russell Wilson is a bit of an oddball character. He is very image conscious and because of that, I think it has been a challenge for many players and possibly staff members to relate to him. I don’t think he lets a lot of people in. Therefore, those that are close to him, are likely extremely close. I think Tater was close to him, and maybe even the closest person to him within the whole organization.

So, when news broke yesterday afternoon that the Seattle Seahawks were bringing in back in some yet to be defined capacity, I took that as really positive news. People can debate how good of a quarterback coach Tater Smith actually is (I’ve noticed mixed reviews on Seahawks Twitter, but for my two cents, I think his recent two year stint down in Houston shows that the dude can coach a quarterback). The fact of the matter is that his return signals very clearly that the Seattle Seahawks are trying to make things right with Russell Wilson.

Additionally to being tight with the quarterback, Tater Smith is also very tight with the head coach. His history with Carroll goes back well beyond their days together at USC (it actually dates back to the early 1980’s when both men coached together at NC State). In fact, these two men are so tight that Carroll has often remarked that Tater has been the one guy on his staff over the years who would be in his ear, telling him all the things that he needed to hear that others on the staff likely wouldn’t say to him. Carroll’s trust in Tater Smith is deeply embedded.

I’ve never been totally sure why Seattle chose to move on from the Tater after the 2018 season, but if I had to guess one reason, I would probably say that perhaps they saw enough positive signs of Russell taking to their new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer that they felt Tater’s influence with Russell was no longer required, and they want that bond with ‘Schotty’ to deepen. Given Russell’s reaction to Schottenheimer being fired a couple months back, I think it’s fair to say that was a successful transition.

I would also say that with Schotty no longer on this staff, Russ might really be in need of someone who he feels will truly be in his corner. Tater coming back just makes too much sense for it not to happen, in that regard.

Here is what I think Tater’s rehiring actually means for Seattle

The reason why I am most excited about this hire is that I believe this signals that Seattle is determined to hang onto it’s superstar quarterback, and make it work out between himself, and the head honcho of the team. It could not be any clearer than that.

Carl Smith is likely coming in to be the guy who Russ can feel like he has as an advocate. With all this business being played out in the news about the player being unhappy with the play calls and offensive line over the years, it’s natural to assume there could be a growing awkwardness between himself and maybe some teammates, and certainly some of the coaches.

Tater can help smooth some of that over, and because he is close to Carroll, Russ can feel confidence that if issues came up, Tater would be the one guy within the organization who could perhaps reach Carroll with Russ’s perspective. That’s a huge deal.

Essentially, whatever title that they officially give the Tater, I believe his main task will be to help bring the player together with the head coach in a functional working way. In short, I think he’s their in-house couple’s counselor hired to work with the two most important figures within the organization. That, to me, is a really good thing.

Will this be enough to repair whatever damage exists between the player and the coach? I don’t know, but I think this can only help settle down the trade flames right now, which frankly need to be settled down.

Seattle is just a few short weeks away from entering free agency. If they can manage to make a couple significant moves on their offensive line, and maybe add another pass catching weapon for Russ along with this addition of bringing back the Tater, that might be enough to convince Russ that the team is finally ready to go further into building around him like he wants them to do. It should convince him of that.

If it doesn’t, then Seattle really does have a gigantic problem on it’s hands. Then it just probably has a quarterback who just wants out, regardless, and if that’s the case, well, at least Pete will have brought back an old friend that he can rely on helping to transition towards possibly a new passer.

For now, I’m not going to look at it that way. I’m going to look at the positive. I think Seattle is going to try to make this thing work out with Russ. I think this hiring signals that loudly enough. I dig that.

I really like this move.

Go Hawks.


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