Former Seattle Seahawks running backs coach Sherman Smith made it clear Friday that he's no longer with the team because Pete Carroll wanted to make a change.
"We went into the meeting, Pete just started talking about, he thought it was time about making a change," said Smith during an interview with Brock and Salk on 710 ESPN Seattle. "And it surprised me because I thought I would be the one more or less leading the conversation -- either saying I hadn’t decided to retire yet or I’m going to coach another year. But I didn’t think it would be him saying, ‘I want to make a change.'"
Smith had worked with Carroll on the Seahawks' coaching staff since 2010. Seattle will move forward with Chad Morton as the running backs coach.
Smith said he had been considering retirement, and Carroll offered him another job on the staff. But that wasn't of interest to Smith.
"I think Coach just wants more of that run-around type of energy that I can’t give," Smith said. "Heck, I’m 62 years old. I don’t run around like I did when I was 32. So I think that was important to him, and that’s where he went. I may not like it, but that’s his decision, and I’m fine with it."
Smith spoke honestly on a number of topics, including why the run game struggled -- finishing 23rd in efficiency -- in 2016.
He said that although coaches Tom Cable, Pat Ruel and Brennan Carroll "did as great a job as possible" preparing the young offensive line every week, he believes the unit's lack of experience contributed to the issues. Smith also mentioned the lack of continuity at the running back position due to injuries and Marshawn Lynch's retirement.
"Marshawn defined our running game by his [physical] run style. Beast Mode," Smith said. "Teams knew when they played us what they had to deal with in the backfield. Even considering the five guys up front or including the tight ends or fullbacks that were in front of them, they knew the main guy was Marshawn.
"So Marshawn brought that intimidation factor, brought that awareness factor that this is a guy that you have to contend with. ... And we didn’t have that this year. Teams came in this year saying, ‘I’m glad we don’t have to deal with Marshawn.'"
Smith said he loves Thomas Rawls and believes Rawls can develop into a No. 1 back. However, Rawls has to "free his mind up." Smith explained that Rawls put too much pressure on himself in 2016 and would get frustrated when he made mistakes.
When asked about what the Seahawks need to do to win another Super Bowl, Smith said the players need to regain their hunger. He acknowledged that could be difficult for a team that has won and possesses so many players who have been paid and achieved superstar status.
"As we talked about the team, I was just telling [Carroll] the team was not as hungry as we were four years ago," Smith said. "When you have the type of success that we’ve had -- you win a Super Bowl, you have a heartbreaking loss in the Super Bowl, you’ve been to the playoffs five years in a row -- you have this reputation. Guys aren’t as hungry. They were hungry, but maybe not as hungry as we were.
"I remember after we lost the Atlanta playoff game in 2012, when we came back on that airplane, I knew that there was an anger on that bus and on that plane that we didn’t win, and we knew that we were the best team. And so going into 2013, there was just no doubt in my mind that we were going to have a great year. Pete can only do so much. Players have got to have a hunger for it."
Smith does not know what he'll do next. However, he said the Super Bowl loss to the New England Patriots still irks him.
"The 2015 season was really hard for me because my mind would always go back to the Super Bowl," Smith said. "When we’d go into the indoor practice facility, man, we should have two of those banners hanging up in here. And it was hard to overcome that for coaches as well as for players."