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Carl Smith, DeShawn Shead return as Seahawks announce Pete Carroll's 2021 coaching staff

News Tribune, Tacoma, Wash. logoNews Tribune, Tacoma, Wash. 3/4/2021 Gregg Bell, The News Tribune (Tacoma, Wash.)

Mar. 3—One of the more interesting things Pete Carroll said after the Seahawks' 2020 season ended was he misses having an assistant coach he can count on to talk frankly with and to him.

He's now got his trusted confidant back with him.

The 69-year-old Carroll officially re-hired Carl "Tater" Smith Wednesday. That was part of the team's announcement of its coaching staff for 2021.

Smith, 72, returns to the role he had for Carroll in 2018: Seahawks associate head coach. Before that, Smith was Russell Wilson's quarterback coach for Wilson's first six NFL seasons in Seattle.

The Seahawks also announced their former defensive back of all trades DeShawn Shead is returning to the team as a defensive assistant coach. He will work with the secondary, naturally.

The team's coordinators for 2021 were already known. Ken Norton Jr. returns for his fourth consecutive season as the defensive coordinator. Shane Waldron, whom Carroll hired from the rival Los Angeles Rams in January, will be a first-time offensive coordinator in the NFL. Larry Izzo is the team's full-time special-teams coordinator this year.

Last year he got promoted from Seattle's assistant special-teams coach to replace Brian Schneider on an interim basis. That was after Schneider left the team during the season for personal reasons. Schneider became the special-teams coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars this offseason.

Tracy Smith, Carl's son, is the Seahawks' new assistant special-teams coach. The younger Smith was Houston's special-teams coordinator last season.

The 31-year-old Shead, a former decathlete at Portland State University, went from an undrafted rookie free agent with Seattle in 2012 to a valued safety, special-teams ace cornerback and co-captain and mainstay on two Seahawks Super Bowl teams. He took failed free agent Cary Williams' place as the team's starting cornerback opposite Richard Sherman during the 2015 season.

In January 2017, Shead tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee in Seattle's division-round playoff loss at Atlanta. He was never the same. He missed almost all of 2017 recovering. He signed a one-year contract in free agency with Detroit in the spring of 2018, but the Lions released him before he played in a game for them. Shead spent a month of training camp in the summer of 2019 trying to make it back with the Seahawks.

Seattle released Shead in August 2019.

Carroll is also the team's executive vice president and highest football authority, ultimately above general manager John Schneider. Carroll feels he needs someone on his staff to speak freely to him, to tell Carroll when he's wrong. To be the check-and-balance guy to Carroll on his staff that Carroll was to Brian Schottenheimer.

Carroll spoke frankly to Schottenheimer, all right. Carroll fired his play caller in January after three seasons, because of what the team called "philosophical differences."

Waldron is replacing Schottenheimer to install the Rams' quicker, more run-based, play-action passing game—and help address Wilson's stated frustration at getting sacked and hit too much.

Carroll's sounding-board man for eight years in Seattle through the end of the 2018 season Smith. Smith was a consultant with the Texans in 2020.

"I always need more help, you know. I need to be coached up just like everybody else," Carroll said two days after Seattle's home loss to the Rams in the first round of the playoffs in January. "Over the years I have lost a couple guys that have been (that for me). Carl Smith was a guy that was...'Tater' would tell me anything. He was awesome. And I demanded it of him because he knew the truth, and he needed to speak it to me.

"So I have lost a few guys like that, and it is something I'm looking at."

The Seahawks' coaching staff for 2021:

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