The File: Who is new Seahawks coach Mike Macdonald?

Feb 1, 2024, 12:15 PM | Updated: 12:35 pm

Seattle Seahawks Mike Macdonald...

New Seattle Seahawks head coach Mike Macdonald speaks to the media on Feb. 1, 2024. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Mike Macdonald is the new Seattle Seahawks coach, and it’s likely that he’s a new name to most 12s.

Mike Macdonald’s defense has dominated Seattle Seahawks’ rivals

Who exactly is Macdonald? We’ve spent a lot of time learning about him at Seattle Sports over the last three weeks as the Seahawks have searched for the successor to previous coach Pete Carroll, so let’s break him down.

Getting to know new Seattle Seahawks coach Mike Macdonald

We should probably start with Macdonald’s age. At just 36 years old, he’s not only now the youngest head coach in the NFL, but he’s precisely half the age of Carroll, who at 72 was the league’s oldest head coach during the 2023 season.

Macdonald was born in Boston but graduated high school in Georgia, where he also attended college at the University of Georgia.

Though he was a two-sport athlete in football and baseball in high school, he didn’t play football in college. He did begin his career during college, however, coaching a ninth grade team and serving as a varsity assistant at Cedar Shoals High School, which is located in Athens, Ga., the same town as the UGA campus.

Macdonald earned a finance degree from Georgia in 2010, then a master’s degree from the same school in 2013 for sports management.

Macdonald and his wife, Stephanie, have been married since 2021.

Where has Mike Macdonald been?

At the same time Macdonald was earning his master’s in 2013, his coaching career was beginning to take off as he was in his third season as safeties and defensive quality control coach at Georgia. He first joined the Bulldogs staff as a graduate assistant in 2010, which came after two years with Cedar Shoals High School.

In 2014, Macdonald entered the NFL ranks as a coaching intern with the Baltimore Ravens under head coach John Harbaugh.

For all but one season since, Macdonald has been with the Ravens.

He was promoted to defensive assistant in 2015-16, then was defensive backs coach in 2017 and linebackers coach in 2018-20.

Macdonald moved onto the college game in 2021, where he took on defensive coordinator duties for the first time. He stayed in the Harbaugh coaching tree, moving from working under John in Baltimore to his brother Jim Harbaugh with the Wolverines.

He impressed enough in that one season to return to the Ravens in the DC role in 2022, which he held through the 2023 season.

What has Mike Macdonald done?

The biggest feather in Macdonald’s cap is he led a 2023 Ravens defense that became the first in NFL history to lead the league in each of points allowed per game (16.5), sacks (60) and takeaways (31).

He’s also won – a lot.

Baltimore was the top seed from the AFC in the playoffs this year after going 13-4 to win the AFC North division title. And only once since Macdonald first joined Baltimore has he been a part of a losing team, which was in 2015 when the Ravens finished 5-11.

The Ravens also had a losing season in 2021, but at that time, Macdonald was DC at Michigan, helping the Wolverines go 12-2 to reach the College Football Playoff and finish with the No. 3 ranking at the end of the season.

What is Macdonald like?

Here are some key quotes about Macdonald from recent conversations on Seattle Sports. (Click on the names to read the full articles that each quote comes from.)

Gerry Sandusky, Baltimore Ravens play-by-play announcer:

I have no concerns about Mike because Mike’s not an artificial guy. Mike’s a genuine guy,” Sandusky said. “I would not call him a yeller or screamer by any stretch. He’s not a rah-rah guy. You had one of the great motivational coaches of all-time in Pete Carroll, and what made Pete Carroll so effective is that’s who he is … Players want authentic. Players do not want this guy to yell or scream, or ‘He’s a motivator.’ Players want a genuine person and a consistent person. This is Mike’s strength. Mike is the same guy on Tuesday as gameday. After a win, after a loss. It’s a long season, guys. They spend a lot of time together. They don’t want somebody who’s one coach in front of the media, one coach in front of the team. They want somebody who’s authentic in every situation. And Mike Macdonald, I would say, is very even-keel. He can get as intense as he needs to get, but he’s authentic and he’s consistent, and those are his strengths.

Gary Kubiak, former Ravens offensive coordinator and NFL head coach

Anytime you’re watching or evaluating a coach or you’re evaluating how his team plays, the No. 1 thing you look at is how hard do his players play? Because that says a lot about the coach. And when you watch Baltimore’s defense fly around and how they play, how well they tackle, fundamentally, there’s no doubt that these guys respond to him in his leadership because it’s right there on tape every week in what they were as a football team. So I think that’s the greatest compliment a coach can get is how hard it his football team plays and how much they give it up for each other.

Jamison Hensley, Baltimore Ravens reporter for ESPN:

The one thing I can guarantee is that Mike Macdonald will not be taking his shirt off in front of DK Metcalf at any time. He does not have that kind of personality. He even describes himself, and a lot of his family members describe him, as an introvert. He is not a guy that I think really excels or feels very comfortable in large group settings addressing, but he is smart and he knows how to get the best out of players and he can relate to players one on one.

Mina Kimes, ESPN NFL analyst:

It’s not just X’s and O’s and clever schemes,. It is the fact that he seems to have gotten the most out of so many players at different points in their careers. Obviously young stars like Kyle Hamilton have emerged as one of the best safeties in the NFL. Patrick Queen really develop(ed) underneath him… veterans guys like Kyle Van Noy, Jadeveon Clowney, Michael Pierce up front all having career years. That to me stands out because the No. 1 thing you want as a head coach is something that get the most out of players.

K.J. Wright, Seattle Sports contributor and former Seahawks linebacker:

We’re talking about a bad, bad (Ravens) defense this past year, dealing with a bunch of I’m not gonna say (just regular guys), but dealing with some guys that are not just high profile-type of defensive players … You see his personality, see that he’s done it at the college level and at the pro level. He comes from a phenomenal culture, a phenomenal organization.

Michael Bumpus, Seattle Sports host and former Seahawks receiver

He’s young and I feel like he can communicate with these players on a different level. At 36 years old, he’s (already) seen a lot in this league. He also was a defensive coordinator for the Michigan Wolverines a couple years back when they made it to the College Football Playoff, so he’s done it on the college level, he’s done it on the professional level.

More on new Seattle Seahawks coach Mike Macdonald

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