How Seahawks’ defense can look different with Clint Hurtt as DC

Feb 6, 2022, 6:24 PM

Seattle Seahawks Jamal Adams...

Seattle Seahawks safety Jamal Adams reacts after a takeaway in 2021. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The Seahawks reportedly have their next defensive coordinator, and it’s someone who has been on the coaching staff for five seasons already.

That would be Clint Hurtt, who came to Seattle in 2017 and has been the Seahawks defensive line coach and assistant head coach each of those five seasons.

Reports: Seahawks promoting Clint Hurtt to defensive coordinator

Hurtt reportedly will be replacing Ken Norton Jr., who was fired after four lackluster seasons running Seattle’s defense.

Someone who’s thrilled about the hire is former NFL receiver Michael Bumpus, who made it clear early in the process that he was hoping Hurtt would get the promotion. He explained why he’s a fan of Hurtt getting the job and how Hurtt can change the Seahawks’ defense despite being a familiar face during his Friday visit with Jake and Stacy on 710 ESPN Seattle.

Bumpus understands many were hoping the Seahawks would bring in “fresh eyes” to run the defense, but he thinks having someone at DC who’s familiar with head coach Pete Carroll is important.

“Me personally, I wanted them to hire from within and promote a guy, and I wanted that because Pete’s towards the end of his career,” Bumpus said. “When you go out of this thing, you want to go out with guys that you trust, guys that you know.”

Not only does Bumpus feel Hurtt has the trust of Carroll, but he said Hurtt, whose previous coaching stops include the Chicago Bears, Florida International, Louisville and Miami University, also commands trust and respect from his players.

“I think Clint being in the league for a while, coaching college as well, he can hold guys accountable,” he said. “He’s a leader, man. I’ve heard the man talk, I see the way the players talk about him and how he interacts with these guys. He’s a natural leader.”

In addition to being a fan of Hurtt’s reported promotion, Bumpus likes that the Seahawks are also bringing in longtime NFL defensive coordinator Ed Donatell to join the coaching staff, per reports. There’s a chance Seattle may additionally be bringing in Sean Desai, who was the Bears defensive coordinator in 2021, as well. Both Donatell and Desai worked with Hurtt in Chicago before he came to Seattle.

Report: Seahawks hire ex-Broncos DC Ed Donatell, but not as team’s DC

“I also like that they’re hiring him, but then hopefully bringing some pieces around him,” Bumpus said. “I think that was the key, right? You hire a guy, but you also bring other perspectives and personalities around to kind of challenge each other. And these guys kind of know each other as well.”

One worry among the Seahawks fan base is that by promoting Hurtt, who’s been with the team for five years, it may signal that the defense’s scheme and concepts will remain the same. Bumpus doesn’t think that’s necessarily the case.

“From everything that I’m hearing and reading and trying to figure out, it seems like with this defense, they’re bringing in guys that were connected to (Vic) Fangio on the Bears back in 2015 and 2018,” Bumpus said. “In 2018, these guys had the No. 3 defense and their concept was more of a two-high (safety) look. With the Hawks, it was a Cover-3 look where you’ve got three deep guys. It seems like they’re going to play more zone and go two-high. They’ve been a zone team, but mainly Cover-3. So right there with the guys they’re bringing in and you look at what they did at other places, maybe you can expect and you should expect some variety in this defense, something you haven’t seen.”

If the Seahawks do opt for more two-high safety looks, how does that impact strong safety Jamal Adams, who’s best play typically comes when he’s around the line of scrimmage and in the backfield?

“When you think of Jamal Adams, you don’t see him as a traditional safety who’s going to be a ball hawk back there and who’s going to go sideline to sideline,” Bumpus said. “I think he can do it, but I think he’s best off in the box. If I’m a coach, if I’m Clint Hurtt and Pete Carroll or these guys coming in, I’m thinking OK, how can I use this man to the best of his ability?”

Using Adams to the best of his ability, Bumpus said, is “rolling him down” closer to the line of scrimmage.

“I think you still will see some single-high (looks and) roll Jamal Adams down, and maybe you bring in another safety and you just put (Adams) in the box and be like, ‘Look, we’ve got a special Jamal package. We’re gonna walk you down to the second level, we’re gonna pull out a (linebacker) and bring out the (third) safety and you can be like our nickel guy, and let’s get creative with it,'” Bumpus said. “And that’s what I’m excited about. Because I’m like, OK, he’s improved in the back end, so let’s see how creative they can get with this guy when it comes to still using him in the box and having him get after the quarterback.”

Listen to the Bumpus’ full discussion with Jake and Stacy at this link or in the player below.

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