Seahawks hope ‘disruptor’ Macdonald can make them contenders again
Feb 1, 2024, 3:30 PM | Updated: 3:49 pm
(AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)
RENTON, Wash. (AP) — There wasn’t anything personal with Seattle Seahawks general manager John Schneider’s heavy rooting interest for the AFC championship game last weekend and wanting to see Kansas City, and not Baltimore, in the Super Bowl.
Schneider was simply thinking about the future of his organization and the desire to finally get an interview with Mike Macdonald.
It was quite a first meeting.
“I don’t know how to describe it other than it was a feeling, it’s a connection, there’s clarity, and then everything everybody said about his great reputation came to life very quickly,” Schneider said. “It was very evident.”
Barely 48 hours after having that first interview on the East Coast, the duo sat together on a stage inside the Seahawks’ headquarters on Thursday after Macdonald was introduced as the ninth head coach in team history.
He becomes the youngest head coach in the NFL at age 36, taking over a franchise that was led for the past 14 seasons by Pete Carroll — the oldest coach in the league when he was let go following the season.
“When we started talking about vision and how we wanted to play and the direction that I felt like how I’d like to take the team and how that paralleled what they saw, it just became very clear that was the thing that you’re looking for,” Macdonald said.
The decision to go with Macdonald is a decided departure from the Carroll regime — from being half of Carroll’s age to the casual hoodie under a sportscoat that Macdonald wore for his introduction.
Although in Macdonald’s defense, he said he brought limited clothing options when he flew from the East Coast to Seattle late Tuesday night.
Schneider described his new coach as a “disruptor,” and said one of the guiding principles through the interview process was, “who is going to change the marketplace?”
“I have a different personality and you’ll get to know me, but my plan is to be myself every day. And you’re just going to get me. It’s not a facade. There’s no alter agendas or anything like that,” Macdonald said. “But it’s all about what’s the best interest for the team, what’s the best interest for the players and how we can be successful.”
Seattle’s search was extensive, partly because it was the first run by Schneider. Seattle did a second round of interviews with six candidates and while there was familiarity with some — most notably Dan Quinn — Schneider was intent the search wouldn’t be complete without final visits with Detroit offensive coordinator Ben Johnson and Macdonald.
Hence his desire to see a Kansas City-San Francisco matchup in Las Vegas so there wouldn’t be any need to wait until after the Super Bowl to move ahead with the coaching search.
Macdonald called the decision to take the Seahawks job a “leap of faith,” leaving behind all he’s previously known living on the East Coast for the chance to be an NFL head coach.
There’s an amount of faith involved too on the Seahawks side of the equation. When Carroll took the job in January 2010, he was a known commodity coming off a major run of success in college as a head coach and had NFL head coaching experience previously.
With Macdonald, there’s no such background like that. He impressively worked his way up through the Ravens organization, but has been a defensive coordinator in the NFL for only two years.
And while those two years were overwhelmingly dominant — along with his one year as the defensive coordinator in college at Michigan — there’s still situations and experiences he has yet to face that he will as a head coach.
Schneider and his staff seemed undeterred by the inexperience.
“I talked to several people that interviewed him already and they’re like, ‘wait until you look in this guy’s eyes. He’s there. He’s present. He’s on it,’” Schneider said. “He was and everybody in that room felt it.”
Macdonald wouldn’t commit to much on the second day of his employment with the Seahawks, other than he intends on calling the defense to start. Schemes and system, and the best use of players will all be determined over the coming weeks and months.
“The spirit of how we play and the principles of how we play, what you’ve seen on the tape in Baltimore will be the same,” Macdonald said. “But I can’t guarantee you the schematics will be the same here because we’re not sure what we’re good at yet.”
That statement shows Macdonald has research still to do in trying to find areas where Seattle can go from being a team hovering around .500 to one that is again contending for division titles and deep playoff runs.
“It’s a young core and so we got a great opportunity to build these guys and build a really competitive team sooner than later,” Macdonald said.
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