What Macdonald must do when making jump to Seahawks head coach

Feb 1, 2024, 8:12 AM | Updated: 8:12 am

Seattle Seahawks Mike Macdonald coach...

Defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald of the Ravens during a 2023 game against the Rams. (Todd Olszewski/Getty Images)

(Todd Olszewski/Getty Images)

The Seattle Seahawks’ new head coach will be making quite the jump as Mike Macdonald will go from being a defensive coordinator with the Baltimore Ravens to running an entire team.

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Macdonald, 36, was hired by the Seahawks after a very successful two-year stint as Baltimore’s defensive coordinator, including leading the NFL in scoring defense, sacks and takeaways in 2023.

That jump from coordinator to head coach happens regularly, but not everyone succeeds, especially their first time.

Someone who successfully made the jump from coordinator to head coach is Gary Kubiak, the former head coach of the Houston Texans and Denver Broncos who won a Super Bowl in 2015. Kubiak had multiple offensive coordinator jobs before his two head coaching jobs, including a stint in Baltimore in 2014, where Macdonald was a coaching intern.

Kubiak joined Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob on Wednesday to discuss Macdonald and taking that leap from coordinator to head coach.

Macdonald has spent nine of the last 10 years coaching in Baltimore, and Kubiak thinks that’s a big deal.

“I’ll just say this: Anybody who’s been with (Ravens head coach) John Harbaugh and been in his program for a period of time is going to do a hell of a job,” Kubiak said. “… The way they do things there, the way they run their organization, if a coach comes through there, you can bet they’re prepared to be a head coach.”

Kubiak stressed the importance of the interviews that coaching candidates go through, and he heard that Seattle’s new head coach turned some heads with the teams he spoke to this offseason.

“I think what happens in the coaching search, what you see going on in the NFL, there’s always names that are brought up … And then when people start interviewing, all of a sudden there are a couple of other guys that step to the forefront because once you get them in a room, you’re just so impressed with their vision for what they want to do,” Kubiak said. “… He obviously has done a tremendous job in his interviews. I’ve talked to a few people that have been a part of them. He has a tremendous vision for what he wants to do, and how he wants to go about it. And I think the fact that he’s coming out of that program gives him a chance to be successful very quickly.”

But going from a coordinator to a head coach is quite the leap.

“It’s a huge jump,” Kubiak said. “I mean, it’s the most significant jump you can make.”

“The football part really is easy. I mean, that’s what you do, that’s what you know, that’s what you’re comfortable with. It’s all the other things that come with it,” he later said.

Being a head coach, you have far more on your plate, Kubiak noted, such as meetings with ownership and the front office, media responsibilities as well as being in charge of the entire coaching staff and roster.

“All of those things that you don’t deal with as an assistant coach, that becomes part of your day-to-day life,” he said.

A big way for head coaches to excel, Kubiak said, is by having a good coaching staff in place.

“Surrounding yourself with people that are great teachers, I think that’s so important in football nowadays with so much turnover,” he said. “You’ve gotta surround yourself with great teachers and people that you feel good about when you lay your head on the pillow at night. You’ve got to be able to sleep and know you’ve got good people working for you and let them do their jobs.”

Kubiak said there are a number of ways to build out a coaching staff, and he thinks Macdonald will ultimately have a good one in place with the Seahawks.

“Mike will do a great job,” he said. “He’s been around good coaches. He knows what he’s looking for.”

Ravens’ defense shows Macdonald can be a head coach

The Ravens had one of the NFL’s best defenses the last two years with Macdonald calling the plays, and they were unquestionably the top defense in the NFL in 2023.

Kubiak was very impressed with how Baltimore’s defense played under Macdonald, and he thinks that shows a lot about the young 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,” Kubiak said. “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.”

Listen to Wyman and Bob’s full interview with Gary Kubiak at this link or in the player near the top of this story.

More on Seattle Seahawks and Mike Macdonald

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What K.J. Wright likes about new Seahawks coach Mike Macdonald
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• 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 Ravens DC Mike Macdonald so impressive
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