What Mike Macdonald plans to do with Seahawks’ defense, QB

Feb 1, 2024, 3:33 PM

Seattle Seahawks Mike Macdonald John Schneider...

Seattle Seahawks GM John Schneider and new head coach Mike Macdonald on Feb. 1, 2024. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

There’s a lot to learn about when it comes to new Seattle Seahawks coach Mike Macdonald, who is the NFL’s new youngest head coach at just 36 years old.

Key takeaways from Mike Macdonald’s first Seahawks press conference

Macdonald was introduced as Seahawks coach at a press conference in Renton on Thursday (watch here), and in addition to he and general manager John Schneider sharing a lot about how he ended up in his new job, Macdonald dove into some specifics about how he plans the team to run in 2024.

Here’s a look at what Macdonald, who is coming off a very successful two-year run as Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator, said about how he’ll approach Seattle’s defense as well as an interesting situation of offense that could be wide-open at quarterback.

What Stood Out: New Seahawks coach Mike Macdonald joins Bump & Stacy

Macdonald to continue calling ‘adaptable’ defense

Macdonald spent 2021 calling plays at Michigan before returning to Baltimore to do the same thing the last two seasons.

Macdonald was wildly successful as a defensive play-caller, especially in 2023 when the Ravens finished first in each of defensive points allowed, sacks and takeaways, a first in NFL history. He plans to still call defensive plays for the Seahawks now that he’s a head coach.

“Right now the plan is I’ll be calling the plays,” he said. “… Ultimately I’m the head coach of the football team, so I want to coach the football team. And right now, the best way that we can win, in my opinion, is for me to call the plays. And then when it becomes obvious that someone else is ready to go and we see it the same way, then we’ll make that change.”

Macdonald’s defenses have been widely lauded for creativity and diversity, and the key word he used to describe his defensive philosophy was “adaptable.”

“We’re always going to be aggressive on how we want to do it. People ask about our blitz rates and all that. That’s not important to me,” he said. “It’s about putting yourselves in positions to win the down, affecting the quarterback, putting your guys in position to have success.”

“The offenses out there are too good just to run three things and just say, ‘Hey, we’re gonna beat you,'” Macdonald added.

Seattle Seahawks’ offense could see major change

Geno Smith has been Seattle’s starting quarterback each of the last two years, and he has two years left on his contract.

Macdonald praised the work Smith has done, noting he’s at his second straight Pro Bowl, but he didn’t commit to Smith or anyone else being Seattle’s starting quarterback in 2024.

“We played against Geno. He’s a really good player,” Macdonald said. “… We’ll see how the whole situation shakes out over time. But I’m excited to get to meet those guys.”

Whether it’s Smith or someone else, Macdonald wants to build the offense around his quarterback.

“We’re going to build around the quarterback. You’ve got to,” he said. “Just like we said on defense, we built the system around the players on defense, we’re going to build it around the players on offense, and the most important player is the QB.”

Macdonald coached for the Harbaugh brothers – Ravens coach John Harbaugh and former Michigan/current Chargers coach Jim Harbaugh – both of whom love to run the ball on offense.

“The percentage of when you run the ball and how much and all that, that’s all adjustable,” Macdonald said. “To me, it’s going to mirror our football team. We’re going to be a physical football team. We’re going to have answers. We’re going to try to be explosive and build it around the players that we have. We’re going through the process right now who’s going to be helping design that and ultimately call the plays. ”

As far as who his offensive coordinator is, that’s unclear. Macdonald did say that it’s not a prerequisite for the offensive coordinator to have previous play-calling experience.

“It’s not near the top of the list,” he said. “We’re looking for the right person to come in here and build this thing. We want someone that’s open-minded, that has a growth a growth mindset that can connect with the players and build a system.”

One name of interest popped up Thursday afternoon: former UW Huskies OC Ryan Grubb, who just recently left Montlake to follow Kalen DeBoer to Alabama. For more on that, read the story at this link.

More on new Seattle Seahawks coach Mike Macdonald

The File: Who is new Seahawks coach Mike Macdonald?
Mike Macdonald’s defense has dominated Seattle Seahawks’ rivals
A Ravens insider breaks down strengths of Mike Macdonald
Gary Kubiak: What Macdonald must do in making jump to head coach
Why ESPN’s Mina Kimes lobbied for Seattle Seahawks to hire Mike Macdonald

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