Following an impressive test drive filling in for Brian Schneider during an extended leave of absence last season, Larry Izzo will no longer have the interim tag running the Seahawks' special teams.
Per Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, Schneider plans to join coach Urban Meyer's staff in Jacksonville, departing after 10 seasons on Seattle's staff. Izzo will reportedly be promoted to special teams coordinator full-time as his replacement moving forward.
Having coached under Pete Carroll at USC in 2009, Schneider originally came to the Pacific Northwest as part of Carroll's first staff with the Seahawks in 2010. He maintained his coordinator position in Seattle for a decade before leaving the team for personal reasons during training camp this past August.
Schneider's absence opened the door for Izzo to step into the special teams coordinator role for the first time and the former Pro Bowl linebacker elevated the Seahawks' performance across the board in the ever-so-important third phase of the game. According to Football Outsiders, under his watch, Seattle finished with the third-highest DVOA on special teams in the entire NFL in 2020, improving by 17 spots compared to the season prior.
Two of the Seahawks best special teams players - fullback Nick Bellore and long snapper Tyler Ott - were selected to their first Pro Bowls respectively. Bellore made 14 tackles on kickoff and punt coverage, ranking among league leaders, while Ott's consistency played a vital role in the success of kicker Jason Myers and punter Michael Dickson, who each enjoyed strong seasons in their own right.
Breaking Olindo Mare's franchise record for consecutive field goals made, Myers wrapped up the best season of his career without a missed field goal, connecting on all 24 of his attempts. He also nailed a franchise-record 61-yard field goal against the Rams in Week 10, contributing to the Seahawks' NFL-best 14.1 DVOA on field goals and extra points.
Meanwhile, Dickson returned to his 2018 All-Pro form, finishing third among all NFL punters in average punt length and leading the league with 32 punts pinned inside the opposing 20-yard line. His stellar performance coupled with strong coverage teams helped Seattle earn the third-highest DVOA for punting.
Now, Izzo will have a chance to prove this rapid improvement wasn't a fluke and he should have most of his key players returning. While Bellore will be a free agent, Myers, Dickson, and Ott are all under contract for 2021, while D.J. Reed will also return as the likely kick and punt returner.