Seahawks fire Mora after just one season as coach
By GREGG BELL
AP Sports Writer
RENTON, Wash. — The Seattle Seahawks fired Jim Mora after just one season, leaving the former NFC West champs without a coach, general manager and president less than four years after they appeared in the Super Bowl.
The team confirmed the move Friday in a news release, less than a week after Mora finished 5-11 after taking over his hometown team at the end of Mike Holmgren’s coaching contract.
“We’ve made a tough decision today,” said Seahawks chief executive Tod Leiweke, who with team owner Paul Allen are the only ones left atop the franchise to make this move. “It became apparent after conducting an extensive internal audit, that a new direction was needed to provide an opportunity for the organization to be successful. Today’s decision, while difficult, is part of the process in building a franchise with a new vision in 2010.”
Leiweke called Mora “truly a standup man, who gave his full effort to our franchise.”
“Coach mora will be missed,” Seahawks defensive end Darryl Tapp posted on his Twitter page.
Seattle is 9-23 since its last playoff appearance in January 2008, after four consecutive NFC West titles.
“This team, more importantly this community, means so much to me that it hurts not being able to see this through,” Mora said in the team statement. “I am disappointed I did not get the chance to complete my contract. This is a tough business that sometimes demands immediate gratification.”
Foxsports.com was the first to report that Mora had been fired.
Speculation on his replacement immediately centered on Southern California coach Pete Carroll.
“Pete’s name comes out at this time every year. In the past, he hasn’t commented on such reports,” USC spokesman Tim Tessalone said in an e-mail. “He was not expected in (Friday). ... At this point, we have nothing to report.”
A Seahawks spokesman inside the team’s headquarters Friday afternoon refused to comment on Carroll and Carroll did not immediately return a phone call left for him by The Associated Press. Leiweke did not return an e-mail from The AP asking about Carroll, who coached the Jets and Patriots in the 1990s.
GM and president Tim Ruskell took the initial fall for the Seahawks’ flop when he was fired Dec. 3. Leiweke noted then that Mora was steward of a rocky transition in 2009 from Holmgren’s regime to one with a new offense, new defense and almost entirely new coaching staff.
Leiweke said last month he expected Mora to return for a second season.
“I’m just proceeding forward with our evaluation process,” Mora said Wednesday when asked about his future. “I’m not too worried about it.
“I’m just going to go work until I’m told not to work.”
Seattle was one of eight teams to have a new head coach and largely new staffs this season. Half of those teams improved their win totals: the Browns and Seahawks each gained one win over 2008; the Chiefs and Lions were plus-2.
Mora said “maybe I oversold” optimism before the season.
“It was harder than we thought,” he said.
Mora’s first season following Holmgren’s winning decade in Seattle was in sharp contrast to his rookie season as a head coach in Atlanta in 2004. That year, Mora took what had been a 5-11 Falcons team to the NFC championship game.
This time, the Seahawks’ injured and ineffective offensive line wrecked new offensive coordinator Greg Knapp’s running game — and quarterback Matt Hasselbeck’s health. The three-time Pro Bowl passer missed 2› games then played through broken ribs, a sore passing shoulder and thumb injury, while setting a career high with 17 interceptions.
The defense, under rookie coordinator Gus Bradley, failed to generate a consistent pass rush and the small secondary often looked overmatched for the second consecutive season. Mora, a defensive coach by pedigree, had said he would explore going from a 4-3 to a 3-4 scheme and calling more defensive plays himself in 2010.
The 48-year-old Mora, who grew up and attended high school and college in the Seattle area, returned to become Holmgren’s assistant head coach and defensive backs coach with the Seahawks in 2007. He then replaced Holmgren, with the announcement coming in early 2008 a year before he took the job in what the team said was an effort to smooth the transition.
Wednesday, Mora said he considered it a civic duty of his to bring the Seahawks their first Super Bowl championship.
“This is where I plan on living the rest of my life,” he said, “and I want to be able to walk around this city and feel proud of the work I did for the Seattle Seahawks.”