Mike Macdonald’s defense has dominated Seattle Seahawks’ rivals

Jan 31, 2024, 2:18 PM | Updated: 4:48 pm

Baltimore Ravens 49ers Mike Macdonald Seattle Seahawks coach...

Travis Jones of the Baltimore Ravens sacks 49ers QB Sam Darnold on Dec. 25, 2023. (Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

(Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

The Seattle Seahawks’ last head coach led them to the franchise’s first Super Bowl title thanks in large part to a dominant defense. Will the team’s newest head coach do the same?

After 14 years of Pete Carroll running the show in Seattle, the Seahawks have gone in a new direction by hiring Mike Macdonald, the defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens.

Seattle Seahawks hire Mike Macdonald as new head coach

Macdonald, 36, is set to be the youngest head coach in the NFL, and he comes to the Seahawks after leading a record-setting defense in Baltimore in his second season as Ravens defensive coordinator. In 2023, the Ravens became the first team in NFL history to lead the league in fewest points allowed, sacks and takeaways all in the same season. The Ravens also allowed as many passing touchdowns (18) as they had interceptions.

Macdonald now joins a Seahawks team that regularly goes head-to-head with two of the NFL’s top offensive minds. Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers and Sean McVay of the Los Angeles Rams are considered to be two of the better offensive play-callers and schemers in the league, and both are part of the highly-regarded Mike Shanahan coaching tree, which is known for innovative and dangerous offenses.

Since Shanahan and McVay are both head coaches in the NFC West, that means Macdonald will now go face them each twice a year.

That won’t be too new of an experience for Macdonald, though, as the Ravens faced all four NFC West teams in 2023 and actually won all four games. Here’s how his defenses did against the NFC West last year.

Week 8: 31-24 over Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals were the first NFC West foe that Macdonald’s Ravens faced, and Baltimore came away with a 31-24 win to get to 6-2 on the year.

The score makes the game seem closer than it was as the Cardinals scored 17 points in the fourth quarter and were down 31-15 with 2:51 left.

In this game, Macdonald’s defense sacked Arizona quarterback Joshua Dobbs twice and intercepted two passes. One of those picks was by safety Geno Stone, who is a pending free agent and could thus potentially follow Macdonald to Seattle.

Which Ravens free agents could join Mike Macdonald with Seahawks?

The Cardinals finished the game with 310 total yards and Dobbs had 208 passing yards.

Week 9: 37-3 over Seattle Seahawks

Week 9 was a week to forget for the Seahawks, but it was a banner week for the team’s new head coach.

Seattle was held to a season-low three points in a lopsided affair, and it was one of five times Macdonald’s Ravens allowed single-digit points this season.

Outside of a Jason Myers field goal in the second quarter, the Seahawks did nothing offensively, picking up just six first downs and 151 yards of offense. Seattle was 1 for 12 on third down, and quarterback Geno Smith was sacked four times, threw an interception and lost a fumble. The Hawks also mustered only 24 rushing yards on the day.

Week 14: 37-31 over Los Angeles Rams

Coming off their bye week, Macdonald and the Ravens had their hands full with the Rams, needing overtime to get a 37-31 win.

The 31 points McVay’s Rams scored were the second-most the Ravens gave up outside of a 33-31 loss to the Cleveland Browns.

In this game, LA quarterback Matthew Stafford completed 23 of 41 passes for 294 yards and three touchdowns. Running back Kyren Williams had 114 rushing yards, and Cooper Kupp caught eight passes for 115 yards and a touchdown.

This win was one of just three regular season games in which the Ravens did not force a turnover.

Week 16: 33-19 over San Francisco 49ers

On Christmas Day, the Ravens dominated the 49ers, who are now heading to the Super Bowl.

The 49ers had one of the NFL’s top offenses in 2023 under Shanahan, but Macdonald’s defense put them to shame in a 33-19 thumping in Week 16.

Brock Purdy threw four interceptions and was pulled with the game out of reach. His backup, Sam Darnold, also threw an interception.

San Francisco trailed 33-12 late into the fourth quarter before a Darnold touchdown made it a two-score game. It was one of just four times this season the 49ers didn’t score 20 points.

Week 17: 56-19 over Miami Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins aren’t in the NFC West, but their head coach, Mike McDaniel, has NFC West ties so it’s worth detailing.

McDaniel was a trusted assistant under Shanahan in San Francisco from 2017-21, and also coached alongside Shanahan at other stops, including under his father in Washington.

McDaniel has helped turn the Dolphins into one of the better offenses in football in his two years as their head coach, but as was the case with the 49ers, Macdonald’s Ravens kept Miami in check.

The Ravens won 56-19, keeping the Dolphins’ high-powered offense largely at bay. It was one of five times Miami didn’t score at least 20 points in 2023.

Miami quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was sacked three times and threw two interceptions. The Dolphins had 375 yards of offense, which was below their 401.3 average, which led the NFL in 2023.

More on Seattle Seahawks’ Mike Macdonald

• Why ESPN’s Mina Kimes wanted Seahawks to hire Mike Macdonald
• What former Hawks LB K.J. Wright likes about Macdonald
Huard: Seattle Seahawks seemed ‘enamored’ with Macdonald
Does Mike Macdonald have the personality to be Seahawks coach?
• Video: Instant reaction – Seattle Seahawks hire Mike Macdonald as coach
• Video: Ross Tucker on what makes Mike Macdonald so impressive
• Rost says Macdonald is most intriguing name in Hawks coach search
• Seattle Seahawks Coach Search: Bump calls Mike Macdonald the ‘fun’ pick

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