The Seahawks are entering Week 1 without one of their longest tenured assistants.
Special teams coordinator Brian Schneider has left the Seahawks for personal reasons and will be away from the team indefinitely, coach Pete Carroll told reporters Friday. Special teams assistant Larry Izzo will step in for Schneider, Carroll added.
Schneider followed Carroll to Seattle from USC in 2010, serving on his staff for the last decade and remaining as one of the rare assistants to avoid being fired (unlike Darrell Bevell, Kris Richard and others) and also not depart for a promotion elsewhere.
Schneider oversaw a revamping of Seattle’s kicking units last season with the addition of internet punting sensation Michael Dickson and 2018 Pro Bowl kicker Jason Myers. The former Jets boot wasn’t as effective in his first season in Seattle, making 82.1 percent of his kicks in 16 games, but he did match his extra-point conversion rate of 90.9 percent. Dickson, meanwhile, followed his Pro Bowl rookie campaign of 2018 with a similar season, punting 74 times for an average of 45.1 yards, including a franchise record-tying 34 punts inside the 20-yard line.
As most will acknowledge, predicating a special teams coach’s performance on home-run returns is a fool’s exercise. But in a similar vein, the Seahawks weren’t remarkable in that department, ranking 29th in average kick return yards with 19.8, and 24th in average punt return yards (6.1) in 2019.
The Seahawks were better where it counted in kick and punt coverage, allowing an average return of 22.2 yards on kickoffs (15th) and 6.3 yards on punts (10th). With a punter with a leg like Dickson’s, effective coverage can serve as a cherry on top of his punt sundaes.
The Seahawks are turning to an assistant in Izzo who brings with him nearly a decade’s worth of experience playing under Bill Belichick, who the football world knows as someone who values special teams aces (Matthew Slater and Nate Ebner, for example). Izzo himself was a fantastic special teamer, earning three Pro Bowl trips while also winning three Super Bowls with the Patriots. Izzo put that experience to work while on the Giants’ staff in 2012, helping revamp a unit that finished as a top-10 group one year after winning a Super Bowl.
He now has an unexpected opportunity to do something similar in Seattle. We’ll see soon enough how the abrupt change affects the 2020 Seahawks.
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