Jim Mora says he's disappointed, but not bitter after being fired
Jim Mora on Seahawks' decision: "I was extremely shocked. I just felt like you take over a 4-12 team, and there's obviously some work to be done."
Seattle Times staff reporter
Seahawks head coaches
Except for interim coach Mike McCormack, Jim Mora is the first head coach to leave after one season:
Mike Holmgren /1999-2008/86-74/.538
* Interim coach
Jim Mora said he tasted no bitterness when his term as Seahawks coach ended after a single season.
That didn't make the franchise's decision to fire him any easier to swallow, though, as he wrestled with the emotions of the decision.
"Disappointment," Mora said. "I'm disappointed I wasn't able to get a chance to see this thing through because I'm confident I could have gotten it turned around."
Instead, the Seahawks decided to start over. Mora was told he was fired Friday morning in a meeting with Tod Leiweke, Seahawks CEO.
Mora was appointed as Mike Holmgren's successor one year in advance, which means he spent almost as long waiting to become Seattle's head coach as he did holding the position. Now, the Seahawks will spend a second year in transitioning to a new coaching staff.
"I was extremely shocked," Mora said of Friday's decision. "I just felt like you take over a 4-12 team, and there's obviously some work to be done."
That became evident. Seven of Seattle's nine losses this season were by more than 10 points, and the Seahawks didn't beat a team that had a winning record.
In the end, Mora didn't have the latitude given most first-year coaches. Not after the president who performed the contortions to name him coach was gone. In the end, Mora got just one season coaching a roster assembled by Tim Ruskell, the president Seattle decided it no longer wanted back at the beginning of December.
There are three years remaining on Mora's contract, which will pay him about $12 million, but there was a personal element to this professional post.
Mora considers Seattle home. He attended Interlake High School, graduated from the University of Washington and served two years as an assistant coach with the Seahawks before getting this opportunity to be the head coach.
"I'm grateful that I got a chance to come back to Seattle," Mora said. "I'm grateful that I got a chance to work for an organization that I love. I'm sorry that it ended the way it did."
Mora becomes only the eighth NFL coach since 1990 to be fired after one season. That doesn't include Al Groh, who left the Jets in 2000 to become head coach at Virginia.
Mora's status as Seahawks coach became a question in early December after Ruskell was told he would not be back as president in 2010 and opted to resign. Leiweke said at the time he "fully expected" Mora to be retained, but the Seahawks began an extensive internal review of the status of the team.
At the same time, the Seahawks' on-field performance reflected an increasingly desolate portrait. Seattle finished with a four-game belly flop of a losing streak, which included a 24-7 loss at home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who were 1-12 at the time and starting a rookie quarterback. Seattle was outscored 123-37 its final four games.
Ruskell was gone by then, leaving Mora alone to answer for the disintegration. He was asked about everything from the on-field effort to the talent on the roster.
But as recently as Wednesday, he said he fully expected to get a second season in charge of the Seahawks. At his final news conference of the 2009 season, Mora said that while he hadn't been explicitly told he would be back, he wasn't worried about it.
He was blindsided by Friday's decision, which came after a season Seattle played without ever suiting up tackle Walter Jones and guard Mike Wahle — the expected starters on the left side of the offensive line.
"I know I'm a good football coach," Mora said. "I've taken a team to the NFC Championship Game. I came into this year with a winning record in the NFL.
"I would have expected that I would have gotten more than one year to try and turn this thing around."
Mora is the first head coach in Seahawks history to receive fewer than three seasons at the helm. Mike McCormack served seven games as Seattle's interim head coach in 1982, but that was only after Jack Patera was fired.
Defensive end Darryl Tapp said in a text message Friday he was sad Mora had been dismissed.
"I wish we as players could have won more games for him, our organization, the 12th Man and ourselves," Tapp said.
No announcement was made regarding a change in the status of Mora's coaching staff with the Seahawks.
"My concern right now is more for my assistant coaches and their families," Mora said. "This affects so many children and families ... I don't worry for myself."