A Ravens insider breaks down strengths of new Seahawks coach Mike Macdonald
Feb 1, 2024, 9:27 AM | Updated: 2:00 pm
(AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Mike Macdonald may be getting ready for his first tenure as a head coach, but the Seattle Seahawks’ new hire has a lot of experience on an NFL coaching staff.
In particular, the Baltimore Ravens’ coaching staff.
The 36-year-old Macdonald comes to the Seahawks after spending all but one year since 2014 working under Ravens head coach John Harbaugh in some capacity, including the last two as defensive coordinator. And in the one year he wasn’t with Baltimore, he was at the University of Michigan serving as DC for John’s brother Jim Harbaugh in 2021.
To get an insider perspective into what made Macdonald such a strong candidate to become the next Seahawks coach, Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob talked to Ravens play-by-play announcer Gerry Sandusky earlier this week.
Here are a couple things that stood out from the conversation with Sandusky.
Adjusting is no problem
Asked what Macdonald’s strengths are, Sandusky quickly listed three things – but he spent the most time explaining the third.
“Mike has several strengths,” Sandusky said. “One, he has tremendous rapport with the players. Two, he has tremendous respect from the players. And three, his ability to adjust the gameplan to the situation is remarkable for such a young coach.”
“So many coaches in the NFL are great coordinators from Monday through Saturday – put together the plan, everybody in place, do a great job coaching everybody up – and then Sunday, the plan doesn’t fit the situation and they don’t adjust. Mike is a Sunday through Sunday coordinator,” he continued. “And I’ve seen him throughout the course of the year make adjustments on the fly – the things that they didn’t anticipate or something that happens, there’s an injury, make an adjustment.”
The 2023 Ravens became the first defense in the history of the NFL to lead the league in points allowed per game, sacks and takeaways all in the same season. And the personnel they did that with wasn’t exactly what you might expect.
“The big picture, the Ravens had a lot of injuries,” Sandusky said. “They weren’t sure where they were gonna get pass-rush pressure from, so they pick up Jadeveon Clowney off the street, Kyle Van Noy off the street at different points in the season, and Mike McDonald did an unbelievable job of folding them into gameplans and building around their strengths. He can look at a player and figure out that player’s strength almost as fast as anybody I’ve ever seen. So we’re talking about an extraordinarily talented coach … We think the world of him in Baltimore and he’s a big part of this Ravens success.”
There was a bit of concern Monday when ESPN Ravens reporter Jamison Hensley described Macdonald as an introvert to Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk, which would be a departure from Seattle’s previous head coach, the famously outgoing Pete Carroll.
But to Sandusky, there’s another way to look at Macdonald’s personality that should put fans at ease.
“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.”
You can listen to the full Wyman and Bob conversation with Baltimore Ravens play-by-play announcer Gerry Sandusky in the podcast at this link or in the player near the top of this post.
More on new Seattle Seahawks coach Mike Macdonald
• Why ESPN’s Mina Kimes lobbied for Seahawks to hire Mike Macdonald
• Macdonald’s defense dominated the Seahawks, and NFC West rivals
• Which Ravens free agents could join Mike Macdonald with Seahawks?
• What K.J. Wright likes about new Seahawks coach Macdonald
• Huard: Seattle Seahawks seemed ‘enamored’ with Mike Macdonald