Wyman and Bob: The risk of Seahawks hiring a first-time D-coordinator

Jan 22, 2022, 3:00 PM
Seahawks Pete Carroll, Shane Waldron...
Seahawks OC Shane Waldron and coach Pete Carroll watch warmups before a preseason game against Denver. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

For the second offseason in a row, the Seahawks are in need of a new coordinator.

Wyman breaks down Seahawks D-coordinator candidates

Last offseason, the Seahawks tabbed Shane Waldron to replace Brian Schottenheimer on the offensive side of the ball. This year, though, Seattle is looking for someone to run the defense.

After four years of calling the defense’s plays, longtime Pete Carroll assistant Ken Norton Jr. was let go. Now, the Seahawks will look for his replacement, which will be the fifth defensive coordinator Carroll has had since coming to Seattle in 2010.

As of Saturday afternoon, there have been four coaches who the Seahawks are reportedly set to interview: Seattle defensive line coach/associate head coach Clint Hurtt, Denver defensive coordinator Ed Donatell, Chicago defensive coordinator Sean Desai, and Dallas defensive passing game coordinator Joe Whitt Jr.

Of the four reported candidates, only Donatell and Desai have NFL defensive coordinator experience — Donatell with 11 and Desai with one.

Last offseason, the Seahawks went with a coordinator hire in Waldron who’d never called plays at the NFL level before. He had a few things working against him, namely injuries to quarterback Russell Wilson and the running back room, but Seattle’s offense struggled until late in the season and finished last in time of possession in 2021.

Would hiring a coordinator with a lack of experience lead to growing pains like we saw on offense in 2021? Here’s what Dave Wyman and Bob Stelton had to say during Friday’s edition of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Wyman and Bob.

“Looking at the risk of hiring a guy who’s never been a defensive coordinator, I was thinking about this last night Dave … It’s not a shot at defensive minds or anything, but I feel like the play-calling is a little bit more complex on the offensive side. There’s a lot more moving parts,” Stelton said. “But perhaps I’m wrong about that. I’m just wondering about the ramp up period, the learning curve for a guy who’s never been a coordinator and you throw him in there at defensive coordinator. Does he become sort of like Shane Waldron in that you’re seeing it for the first time, he’s making his mistakes, he’s got to get used to calling those plays? Is there a fear that you could be seeing a version of what we saw from Shane Waldron understanding what he had to deal with on the defensive side of things if you were to go with somebody that’s never done it before?”

“There’s always that risk,” Wyman replied. “If you asked me, though, I feel like it’ll get more simple than it will complicated.”

Wyman believes that if a first-time coordinator indeed gets the job for the Seahawks, they’ll make things “really simple” for the defense in order to “let your players make plays.”

“I would say as far as a new coordinator goes, it’s more likely that you would have growing pains on the offensive side than the defensive side,” Wyman said.

Aside from calling plays for the first time at the NFL level, what else is so difficult with being a coordinator for the very first time?

“You have to also manage the coaches,” Wyman said. “So if you’re a linebacker coach, you’re just managing your guys. Now it’s a lot more work. And you’ve got to make sure coaches are getting it done and see what they’re doing. There’s so much more to look at.”

But two coaching jobs on defense help make that a little easier for coordinators, Wyman pointed out.

“That’s why you have pass game coordinators and run game coordinators and stuff like that is because it’s all the things that bring it together,” he said.

Listen to the full discussion in the player below.

Heaps: Who Seahawks can add to be more aggressive on defense

Wyman & Bob

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Wyman and Bob: The risk of Seahawks hiring a first-time D-coordinator