Heaps: Seahawks gave Sean Desai assurances that convinced him to join staff

Feb 12, 2022, 9:17 AM

Seahawks Sean Desai...

Ledarius Mack of the Chicago Bears works with defensive coordinator Sean Desai during training camp. (Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)

(Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)

The Seahawks will have a new-look coaching staff on the defensive side of the ball once the 2022 season rolls around.

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Gone are Ken Norton Jr. and Andre Curtis at defensive coordinator and defensive passing game coordinator, respectively. According to reports, Clint Hurtt, Seattle’s defensive line coach and assistant head coach, will be the defensive coordinator in 2022 and Karl Scott, who was most recently with the Minnesota Vikings as their defensive backs coach, will be the new defensive passing game coordinator.

Additionally, the Seahawks are reportedly adding one of the hottest names from this coaching cycle to the staff in Sean Desai, a longtime Chicago Bears assistant who was their defensive coordinator last season. He is expected to join the Seahawks’ coaching staff as associate head coach – defense, per Ian Rapoport. Desai was one of four reported candidates for Seattle’s own defensive coordinator opening, which Hurtt reportedly got. Desai and Hurtt worked together in Chicago before Hurtt joined the Seahawks.

So what should we know about Joseph? And why did Desai come to the Seahawks when he reportedly was in hot demand across the league? Here’s what insider sources told 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake Heaps.

“Karl Scott, the information that I got (about) him was, look, this guy is just a grinder and has risen above everything that he has done,” Heaps said during Friday’s edition of Jake and Stacy, the former NFL quarterback’s daily show with Stacy Rost from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on 710 ESPN Seattle. “(He has gone from) basically a nothing resume to quickly rising through the ranks of getting on the Alabama coaching staff, and not just being one of the 50 coaches on staff but becoming the secondary coach for that group, and being able to produce some very, very talented football players from that era with Trevon Diggs and Minkah Fitzpatrick and those guys. Karl Scott is very well respected from (Alabama head coach) Nick Saban on his staff and someone who’s young, who’s energetic at 36 years old and will definitely bring a fresh energy and perspective to the secondary.”

Now what about Desai?

“This guy was very much in demand across the NFL. Let me be very clear about that,” Heaps said. “So getting Sean Desai here to Seattle was no easy feat. Not only was he interviewing for other defensive coordinator positions and didn’t get them as as time went on, but he was very sought after in terms of being a guy that everyone wanted him to be a part of their staffs, whether it was (to run the) secondary, whether it was passing game coordinator, you name it. And Pete Carroll identified him through that process early on and wanted him badly.”

Heaps said that there was “a little bit more of an extra motivation” for the Seahawks to get Desai to join the coaching staff after veteran defensive coach Ed Donatell, who also interviewed for Seattle’s defensive coordinator gig, was hired to be the Vikings defensive coordinator a few days after he was reportedly set to join the Seahawks.

But even then, getting Desai to join the Seahawks took him getting “some assurances” from head coach Pete Carroll, according to Heaps.

“No. 1, the autonomy in which the game plans and the overall coaching structure would work,” Heaps said. “… Sean Desai wanted to not just be a member of the staff but to have a say and to have a clear working relationship in terms of putting together game plans, how all that’s going to come together. He got the assurances he needed on that end. Very big.”

That’s especially notable as the Seahawks’ defense has always been considered to be Carroll’s defense even though he doesn’t call plays. That also signals that while Desai won’t be the DC calling plays, he will have a sizeable role in the team’s game planning and scheme.

The second assurance? Personnel.

“It’s one thing to be on a coaching staff; it’s another thing to be a part of a group that has pieces to work with. I believe they have that already now, good pieces, but they need to add more impact and that is very clear,” Heaps said. “And what I was told is that Pete Carroll sold a very strong and compelling argument that that was going to be the case, that they would be aggressive in their approach from a defensive schematic perspective and also work very hard to get the pieces that they need in the offseason to upgrade this roster.”

And the last sticking point? Desai’s title.

“If you’re not going to be the defensive coordinator, if you’re not going to be the one that’s getting the credit for calling the plays on gameday, then there’s got to be a title and money involved and Pete Carroll came through on that final part with the associate head coaching title and obviously, what comes with that is very fair compensation,” Heaps said.

After hearing all that from Heaps, Rost had one key question.

“You are of the belief that the new coaching hires, whether it be Clint Hurtt being promoted from within to defensive coordinator or Sean Desai reportedly joining the staff as an associate head coach on defense, that whatever the shifting or final version of the coaching staff will look like, they will have more autonomy than did previous iterations under Pete Carroll?” she asked Heaps.

“Yes, they will have more autonomy and they will have more of a say in the defense and defensive game planning,” Heaps replied. “… That doesn’t mean Pete Carroll is not going to be a part of it. That’s not what I’m saying at all … and that’s not the point.”

Heaps said the point is that the defensive coaching staff is working well together, everyone’s on the same page, and that the rules and expectations are “clearly defined” and “stay set.”

“And that, I think, was a big final factor to rounding out this coaching roster and bringing in someone like Sean Desai, who had a number of different options to choose from around the NFL,” Heaps said. “Kudos to Pete Carroll for putting in the work to make this happen, really selling what he’s wanting to do and what he’s wanting to accomplish on the defensive side of the ball, wanting to make certain changes from not just a schematic perspective but also from a personnel perspective that got Sean Desai excited enough to want to be a part of what’s going on here in Seattle.”

Listen to the full conversation in the podcast of the first hour of Friday’s Jake and Stacy at this link or in the player below.

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Heaps: Seahawks gave Sean Desai assurances that convinced him to join staff