What new assistants Desai and Scott revealed about Seahawks’ defense
In addition to the promotion of Clint Hurtt to defensive coordinator, the Seahawks added two young exciting defensive assistants this offseason in Sean Desai and Karl Scott.
Desai, 39, spent the last nine years with the Chicago Bears, including as defensive coordinator in 2021. He’s Seattle’s new associate head coach.
Scott, 37, is the Seahawks’ new secondary coach and defensive passing game coordinator. He was with the Minnesota Vikings last year and before that, he’d spent three years at NCAA powerhouse Alabama coaching defensive backs.
Both Desai and Scott spoke to reporters after a Seahawks practice on Tuesday and former NFL quarterback Jake Heaps came away impressed and pleased with what both had to say about Seattle’s defense. He shared his thoughts during Wednesday’s Jake and Stacy on Seattle Sports 710 AM.
With Desai, Heaps was happy to hear the coach talk about emphasizing the “why” in terms of letting players know what’s expected of them on the field.
“To me, it’s about being bringing information down that’s relatable to the player,” Desai said Tuesday. “We’ve got to try to make some complex things simple, but they’ve got to understand the depth of it. And you’ve got to open their eyes and their ears and and give them different looks and try to relate to them so they understand the information you’re trying to give to them. And then give them the why. I don’t think you can get message across without giving them the why.”
“So when you talk about the ‘whys’ of football, it is so important, Stacy, and that is a major coaching philosophy that I have when I coach quarterbacks,” Heaps told co-host Stacy Rost. Because anything that you tell them, they have to know the why – why are they doing it? What’s the purpose of it? And if a coach can’t tell you the why, then guess what? They don’t really know what they’re doing. They’re just telling you to do something. And that’s the hallmark of a bad coach. A great coach is able to communicate the task and then why they’re doing it so that the player can have a fundamental, great understanding of how it all comes together.”
Heaps thinks that the Seahawks didn’t discuss the “why” enough when it came to their defense the last four seasons.
“The past four years, this defense has not been taught in a relatable way. I don’t know what the disconnect was completely, but one area that was very clear is that the communication of what the coaching staff wanted the players to do and execute was not being communicated at the highest level,” Heaps said. “A lot of these players did not understand the whys of why they were running Cover-3? Why do we need to run man-to-man principles here? Why are we going into Cover-2 in 2-minute situations? What is the fundamental reason why we are doing these things? Because it was very clear there was so much disconnect out there that it was shocking to watch from an NFL team.”
“I believe that you’re going to see a lot of that cleaned up, and it’s gonna be because outside of the talent and everything else that this team will possess, a large part is going to be due to the new, refined communication that will be a part of this coaching staff,” Heaps added.
While Desai will be focused on the defense as a whole in his role, Scott’s primary focus will be on the secondary and defending the pass.
The Seahawks have been especially bad against the pass over the last few seasons, and Heaps thinks that Scott should help a lot in tightening up the back end of Seattle’s defense.
Scott told reporters Tuesday that defenses don’t always need to do “a lot” of movement pre-snap to try and confuse quarterbacks and offenses, and Heaps thought that was encouraging to hear.
“What he talked about in regards to the secondary is the fact that you don’t have to do all these exotic, crazy things before the snap to change your coverages or to confuse the quarterback,” Heaps said. “There are little adjustments that you can make, there’s subtle alignment changes that you could make to try and force a quarterback to do what you want. If you understand – again, coming back to the whys – why am I lining up in a certain way to fool the quarterback? What am I trying to get him to do, or trying to get them to think we’re doing? And if a defense and a defensive players can understand that, then there’s less chaos that’s going on to the eye.”
“If you can make those subtle tweaks and changes, that makes it difficult,” Heaps later added. “Sometimes I think as fans, we think, ‘Oh man, they’re going to do all these different exotic-looking things.’ There’s going to be a lot of subtlety to this defense that maybe the average fan won’t appreciate, but it will be more difficult on the quarterback and the offensive coordinators as they prepare to really truly understand what look they are in and what they are going to do.”
Listen to the full second hour of Wednesday’s Jake and Stacy at this link or in the player below.
Jake Heaps’ last day with Seattle Sports 710 AM is Thursday, June 15. Listen to Jake & Stacy Thursday both for Jake’s final episode, as well as the announcement for Stacy Rost’s next co-host, which will be at 1:30 p.m.