Huard: What reported coaching staff moves on D mean for Seahawks

Feb 9, 2022, 12:27 PM
Seahawks Pete Carroll...
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll looks on before a Jan. 2 game against the Detroit Lions. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

After the Seahawks finished 28th in total defense, 31st in pass defense and tied for 22nd in sacks in 2021, they decided to shake things up with the defensive coaching staff.

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Defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. as well as defensive passing game coordinator Andre Curtis were let go, and defensive line coach/assistant head coach Clint Hurtt is reportedly going to be the team’s next defensive coordinator.

The Seahawks have also been tied to a number of other coaches to join the team’s staff.

Last week it was reported that longtime NFL defensive coordinator Ed Donatell was expected to be hired as a defensive assistant, though on Wednesday morning ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler said Donatell is the favorite to become the Minnesota Vikings’ defensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings under incoming head coach Kevin O’Connell.

Additionally, The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman reported that ex-Vikings defensive backs coach Karl Scott, who previously coached defensive backs at collegiate powerhouse Alabama, is expected to be Seattle’s next defensive passing game coordinator.

Another name who the Seattle Times has reported the Seahawks have interest in adding to the coaching staff is ex-Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Sean Desai, who was reportedly interviewed for Seattle’s defensive coordinator vacancy. Desai has also interviewed for other defensive coordinator vacancies around the league but is not currently signed with any team.

So what exactly does the coaching shakeup on the defensive side of the ball mean for the Seahawks going forward with Hurtt reportedly running the show, and the team possibly bringing in – or at least attempting to bring in – some outside eyes? Former NFL quarterback Brock Huard shared his thoughts Wednesday during his daily conversation on The Mike Salk Show on 710 ESPN Seattle.

“I think there are a lot more questions than necessarily answers in (the question of) ‘How does all of that sort itself out?'” Huard said. “There is a positive, and the positive (is) I think you can do this more defensively, frankly, than offensively. I mean, offensively, you got to have a point man. You’ve got to have … one voice.”

What Huard means by that is that he believes when it comes to coaching in the NFL, it can be OK to have multiple strong voices on the defensive side of the ball versus on offense, where he thinks the offensive coordinator – or a head coach if they’re the one calling plays – needs to be the one voice leading the charge.

Huard said that was apparent with the Seahawks in the mid-2010s with offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, offensive line coach/assistant head coach Tom Cable and head coach Pete Carroll all being heavily involved.

“I think offensively you have to have one clear cut piece and it’s his offense and it’s his system,” Huard said. “I do think defensively there can be strength in numbers, I do think there can be strength in community, I do think there can be strength in innovation that comes with, ‘OK, let’s bring this Nick Saban background (with Scott), and let’s bring the Donatell background, and let’s bring maybe Desai and some of that Vic Fangio background.’ And then obviously Clint knows what Pete wants explicitly.”

While Huard thinks having more voices on the defensive side of the ball can be helpful, he did admit he’s “a little concerned” because Hurtt is set to be a first-time defensive coordinator and play-caller starting next season.

Salk wanted Huard’s thoughts regarding what the Seahawks’ reported hires and interest in certain coaches means for the defense going forward, saying that Carroll will never be OK with the team giving up big passing plays over the top or allowing teams to have the run game with minimal pushback.

“So how do you maintain Pete’s priorities while fixing the fact that they haven’t been able to get off the field and they’ve given up chunks of yards for the last couple years?” Salk asked.

“Well, that’s where I think you try to bring in creative, innovative voices that have done it in some different systems and in some different places,” Huard replied.

Huard is very interested in hearing the next time Carroll talks to the media – presumably at the upcoming NFL Scouting Combine – to hear why he made these moves, to see what the final coaching defensive staff will look like as well as answering why he moved on from someone who many thought was a “yes man.”

“I think by all accounts Ken Norton was just really just doing Pete’s bidding, that Pete wanted this done, and ‘Hey, we’re gonna eliminate the big play,'” Huard said. “And remember that one year (in 2019 where the Seahawks decided), ‘We’re going to play base (defense) and there’s some really good stuff that happens with base defense’? Well, no, not really. You gave up (way too many) yards. And yeah, you’re not giving up the big play, but again, you’re not getting off the field and time of possession is ridiculous. So I think there’s a lot to talk through, and obviously the one guy that’s been pulling the strings and making these decisions and has his hands and his fingers in this defense we haven’t heard from yet, and I look forward to hearing from Pete eventually and more than likely at the combine.”

Listen to the full conversation in the final segment of the second hour of Wednesday’s Mike Salk Show at this link or in the player below.

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