New Seahawks DC Clint Hurtt: Pete Carroll has given me ‘full autonomy’

Feb 17, 2022, 3:52 PM | Updated: 4:08 pm

Seahawks HC Pete Carroll...

Coach Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks reacts from the sideline during the first half against the Houston Texans. (Tim Warner/Getty Images)

(Tim Warner/Getty Images)

The Seahawks have their new defensive coordinator in Clint Hurtt, and he’s sure saying a lot of things people were hoping to hear.

Salk: New DC Clint Hurtt is exactly what Seahawks fans have wanted

On Wednesday, Hurtt met with the media for the first time since his promotion and made it clear he wants the Seahawks to be more aggressive on defense and that dropping defensive linemen into coverage as much as they did in 2021 won’t happen again.

On Thursday, Hurtt spoke to 710 ESPN Seattle’s Wyman and Bob about getting the job, the hires of Sean Desai and Karl Scott and, most notably, the freedom he and his assistants have to run the defense while Pete Carroll is head coach.

Listen to the full interview with the new Seahawks defensive coordinator at this link or in the player below.

Here’s a close look at what stood out from Hurtt’s interview with Dave Wyman and Bob Stelton.

“He’s given me full autonomy”

When talking about the Seahawks’ defense, you’ll often here that it’s “Pete’s defense,” meaning Carroll controls that side of the ball with the scheme and has a heavy influence on play-calling. Hurtt pushed back on that notion.

“I think that’s way overblown what’s being said. Pete is the type of coach who’s going to let you coach,” Hurtt said.

Carroll’s background as someone who rose up as a defensive assistant coach naturally means he’ll share his opinions, though, according to Hurtt.

“How you run things and how you call it, any head coach when that side of the ball is his expertise, he’s going to talk you through some things because he’s been through it before,” he said. “Obviously he’s the architect of the defense that was here that went to two Super Bowls and won a ton of games and played great defense for a long time.”

Hurtt also made it clear that Carroll is willing and able to adapt and adjust, and that was one of the first things the two discussed when Hurtt joined the coaching staff in 2017.

As far as how much control over the defense Hurtt will have, he gave a pretty resounding answer.

“He’s given me full autonomy,” Hurtt said, referring to Carroll. “Obviously when you’re a coordinator and you have a head coach … you have somebody you have to answer to when there’s things that come up. That’s part of it, and that’s no issue for me. And I want to also lean on him for his expertise.”

While some believe Carroll being so involved can be a bad thing, Hurtt thinks the opposite.

“Pete being involved and knowing everything that’s going on, that’s a resource, that’s not an issue like some people are trying to make that come across,” he said. “He’s given us full rein to go and put in a defense, run it and it’s not the things that we’ve always been running here for the last 11 or 12 years.”

The new guys

The Seahawks did a lot of shaking up on the coaching staff that they announced this week, but only three of the team’s 22 coaches weren’t with Seattle last year.

One is Sanjay Lal, the new receivers coach and offensive passing game coordinator, but he is familiar to the system as he was in Seattle in 2020.

The other two are Desai and Scott, who are the new associate head coach of defense and defensive passing game coordinator, respectively.

Desai, who was the defensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears in 2021, actually interviewed for the Seahawks’ defensive coordinator vacancy among others across the league. He and Hurtt have history, having worked together in Chicago for two years.

Hurtt is very excited to have Desai as a sounding board next season.

“Sean is a brain. His nickname is ‘Doc.’ That’s what we all call him,” Hurtt said. “… He has all the answers.”

Hurtt called Desai a “really sharp guy” who can communicate with him during games, and the fact that Desai was a defensive coordinator as recently as 2021 is really important to Hurtt, who is now a coordinator for the very first time.

“I love the fact that he had his year of being a play caller this past season in Chicago. There’s no doubt in my mind he’s going to get that opportunity again the NFL, and deservedly so,” Hurtt said. “But he’s somebody I consider a blessing that I can lean on him. He’s been through it already for a year what I’m getting ready to go through now.”

As for Scott, he’s less known as he has just one year of NFL coaching experience. He comes to Seattle from Minnesota where he was the defensive backs coach, and before that he was a longtime defensive backs coach in the college ranks, including three years at powerhouse Alabama under legendary coach Nick Saban.

Hurtt said Carroll tasked him with finding “fresh names” to coach the secondary and he called around the league to guys he knows and trusts.

“When you ask questions about, ‘Tell me an up and comer, fast riser DBs coach that you hold in high regard’ and you just start writing down names, Karl Scott’s name comes up over and over and over and over again,” Hurtt said. “So I’m telling Pete, ‘This is somebody we need to get on the phone with when we can and be able to talk to him.'”

Like Desai, Scott is “sharp,” Hurtt said. And it’s clear the 36 year old knows what he’s doing.

“This guy has been in a lot of different systems, knows them inside and out, adjustments and how to communicate with players,” Hurtt said. “Just a savant, just understands how to do different things. Everyone in the world runs Cover-3 and Cover-4 and things like that, but the different tools that you can use within the coverage to maybe help you handle different formations and routes and things like that – when guys are really sharp on that, that’s when you know they’re on top of it.”

Hurtt said Scott is a “clear and concise communicator” who will command the room when he’s talking.

“He grabbed my attention just talking to him. And I know he did the same with coach Carroll, as well,” Hurtt said.

The first task for Desai and Scott is to watch film and get familiar with the Seahawks’ players, starting with the secondary. After that, it’s offering their perspectives as the two newest coaches coming in from the outside. And then those two and the rest of the defensive staff will focus on terminology and the playbook, which Hurtt said “is changing.”

Other highlights

Hurtt again reiterated that he eventually wants to be an NFL head coach. He brought that up when asked about the process of him being interviewed before ultimately landing the job taking so long.

“Obviously coach (Carroll) has to do his due diligence and talk to people and get a chance to sit down and talk football and gain knowledge. I knew that was going to be a part of it,” he said. “… I say this all the time: my ultimate goal is to become a head coach. So I always take the step back and look at how coach manages and uses these situations and whatnot because I think you miss an opportunity if you don’t take notes and kind of journal that stuff in how the process works and who you bring in and whatnot. So obviously once everything was all said and done I got the phone call and then he started talking to me about staff stuff and things of that nature, that was really a cool and exciting time.”

Hurtt also stressed that this defense is its own and won’t be compared to previous defenses, including the legendary Seahawks Legion of Boom defenses of the early and mid-2010s.

“The Legion of Boom and that era of defense was unique and special, and they hold their own regard. To me anything going forward, we have to build our own name,” he said.

Hurtt also said he thinks the Seahawks already have good players in Seattle, but he made it clear he wants two pending free agents back for 2022.

“(Safety) Quandre Diggs and (cornerback) D.J. Reed, us having the opportunity to get those guys back will obviously be vital to our success because I think the world of those guys,” he said.

Reed emerged as a starting corner late in 2020 and was Seattle’s top corner in 2021.

Diggs, meanwhile, is coming off his second consecutive Pro Bowl nod and has 13 interceptions in 38 regular season games since joining the Seahawks in 2019.

“I think Quandre is the best in the world at what he does when that ball is in the air,” Hurtt said. “Those are game-changing plays.”

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