SEATTLE – The Seahawks on Wednesday fired offensive-line coach and assistant head coach Tom Cable, a source told The Seattle Times. The move is part of a decision to revamp its offensive coaching staff in the wake of a 9-7 season that saw the Seahawks miss the playoffs for the first time since 2011.
He was fired along with offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, who was told Tuesday night he would not return.
Cable has been with the Seahawks since 2011 and coordinated the team’s running game, working with Bevell to manage the offense.
The Seahawks had unprecedented success with their offense and running game during much of Cable’s time with the Seahawks, setting a record with 2,762 rushing yards in 2014 when the team advanced to its second consecutive Super Bowl.
But the Seahawks struggled mightily to put together an effective offensive line the past two seasons, dropping to 23rd in the NFL in rushing in 2017, and coach Pete Carroll decided that change is in order.
The Seahawks could undergo a complete overhaul of their top assistant-coaching leadership, as defensive coordinator Kris Richard also might not return. He is being encouraged by Carroll to explore other options, with NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reporting that Carroll feels Richard could benefit from working in a different organization. Richard has worked only under Carroll as a full-time assistant, both at USC and with the Seahawks.
Cable, 53, became a lightning rod for fan and media criticism of the offense the past few years, as Seattle struggled with consistency on the offensive line. Quarterback Russell Wilson often was under duress, and the running game was unable to find any consistent traction the past two seasons following the departure of running back Marshawn Lynch.
Cable, who played at Snohomish High School, was hired by the Seahawks in 2011 after having gone 17-27 as coach of the Raiders in 2008-10. He was also a grad assistant at the University of Idaho from 1987-88 before becoming the Vandals’ head coach from 2000-2003.
The firings are the first for a Seahawks coordinator since Carroll let go of offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates following his first season in 2010.
The Cable-Bevell tandem arrived the next year. With the emergence of Lynch in 2011 and the arrival of Wilson in 2012, the Seahawks enjoyed some of the best offensive success in their history – in 2015 they set a team record with 6,058 yards.
But the offense steadily declined the past two seasons, hitting a nadir late this season with a 42-7 loss and then a 21-12 win over Dallas in which Seattle gained just 285 yards in the two games combined. That came after the Seahawks made maybe their most aggressive in-season trade of the Carroll/John Schneider tenure to attempt to upgrade the line, trading a third-round in 2018 and a second-rounder in 2019 to Houston for former All-Pro left tackle.
The organization had accepted a certain amount of a drop in the team’s offensive line play following the Super Bowl-winning season in 2013 as all five starters from that team were traded or not retained over the following three years, due in large part to allowing veterans such as left tackle Russell Okung and guards James Carpenter and J.R. Sweezy to leave in free agency for salary cap reasons.
But the team also drafted an NFL-high 16 offensive linemen since 2010 and it may ultimately have been the inability to produce enough quality linemen out of those picks that led to this week’s decision to turn over the offensive coaching staff.
In his season-ending press conference last week, Carroll spoke frankly about the need for the team to get back to a run-first mentality.
“There was issues during the season that I think the big ones I would like to address for you is that we have a real formula of how we win and we have been unable the last two years to incorporate a major aspect of that and it’s running the football the way we want to run it,” Carroll said. “I think you see tremendous examples around the league of teams who have turned their fortunes around and they have turned it around in a formula that I think should sound familiar to you. But teams running the football. Teams playing good defense and doing the kicking game thing. That is the formula that has proven historically the best in this game.
“We have been committed to that from the start but unfortunately we have not been able to recapture it the way that we have in years past. Last year, Russell was banged up all year long and couldn’t contribute the way he normally did. Look what he did this year. He ran for 500 yards and was a huge factor throughout the year. We needed that 500 last year to go along with what we had. We might have had different fortunes. This year we weren’t able to complement the other end of it the way we want to for some obvious reasons, but also just disappointed that we weren’t able to pull it off. So that’s really kind of what we are dealing with.”
It will now be up to a new set of offensive coaches to help Carroll get that done.