The latest on Seahawks’ reported offensive coordinator candidates

Feb 3, 2024, 3:41 PM | Updated: 6:30 pm

Seattle Seahawks Ryan Grubb...

UW Huskies offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb before the 2023 Apple Cup in Seattle. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The Seattle Seahawks are entering a new era with Mike Macdonald as head coach.

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The longtime Baltimore assistant takes over a Seahawks team that has gone 9-8 each of the last two years, but has seen a once-proud defense fall to among the league’s worst in recent years.

Macdonald told reporters on Thursday that he plans to call Seattle’s defensive plays. But what about on the other side of the ball?

The Seahawks don’t yet have an offensive coordinator, but reports have surfaced that tied Seattle to a few candidates.

Could Alabama OC Ryan Grubb return to Seattle?

Football fans in the Pacific Northwest know Ryan Grubb very well as he called plays for the UW Huskies’ high-flying offense in 2022 and 2023.

Grubb, 47, left Washington for Alabama along with Kalen DeBoer last month. Grubb posted on social media that he wanted to be the Huskies’ next head coach, but ultimately that job went to Jedd Fisch.

But according to multiple reports, including Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, Grubb is under consideration for the Seahawks’ offensive coordinator opening, meaning he could return to Seattle after less than a month on Alabama’s staff.

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Under Grubb, the Huskies were the nation’s top passing team each of the last two years with Michael Penix Jr. throwing for over 9,500 yards in that span.

Washington went 25-3 over the last two seasons with Grubb calling the team’s offense and Penix under center.

Grubb returning to the Pacific Northwest also adds intrigue as a number of top UW offensive players are in this year’s draft, including Penix, standout offensive linemen Troy Fautanu, an expected first-round pick, and Roger Rosengarten, as well as receivers Rome Odunze, Jalen McMillan and Ja’Lynn Polk.

Grubb has coached alongside DeBoer nearly every year since 2007, and has never coached in the NFL, though Macdonald said Thursday that previous NFL play-calling experience is not a requirement for his offensive coordinator hire.

Will Seattle Seahawks land a different Detroit assistant?

Tanner Engstrad, 41, has spent the last four years in Detroit as an offensive assistant, including stints as tight ends coach and, most recently, passing game coordinator. According to multiple reports, including Albert Breer of The MMQB, the Seahawks have requested an interview with Engstrand.

The Lions have had one of the NFL’s best offenses each of the last two seasons under head coach Dan Campbell and offensive coordinator Ben Johnson, and Johnson was a top candidate for Seattle’s head coach opening, but he is back in Detroit.

Given Seattle’s interest in Johnson, getting Engstrad would make a lot of sense considering he knows that offense very well. The Lions have a great aerial attack, but they also run the ball very well. They were the first team in NFL history to have two running backs that each had over 1,000 scrimmage yards and 10-plus total touchdowns.

Engstrand and Macdonald have never coached together, but they do have a connection in current Los Angeles Chargers and former Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh. Macdonald was Michigan’s defensive coordinator in 2021 and Engstrand coached under Harbaugh at the University of San Diego in the mid-2000s and at Michigan again in 2018.

Potential candidate blocked by New York

The Seahawks interviewed Mike Kafka, 36, for their head coaching vacancy, but that job obviously went to Macdonald.

CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones reported Saturday that you shouldn’t “discount” the idea of Kafka coming to Seattle, but as offensive coordinator. Later, though, Jones reported that the Giants blocked Seattle’s interview request.

Because Kafka would have been going to the Seahawks on a lateral move, the Giants had the ability to block the interview, which is what happened.

Kafka, a former NFL quarterback, was a longtime assistant in Kansas City under Andy Reid, working alongside star quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Kafka left fot New York to call plays under Brian Daboll in 2022.

With Kafka set to return to the Giants, the Seahawks will have to look elsewhere for their offensive coordinator hire.

More on the Seattle Seahawks

• Bumpus: 3 Seattle Seahawks that can help anchor Macdonald’s defense
• Ex-Georgia coach Richt details Seahawks’ Macdonald’s coaching start
• Macdonald adds veteran Leslie Frazier as Seahawks assistant head coach
• Questions answered, unanswered by Seahawks’ Mike Macdonald
• Salk: The 7 words that stick out with new Seahawks coach Mike Macdonald
• What Mike Macdonald plans to do with Seahawks’ defense, QB

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The latest on Seahawks’ reported offensive coordinator candidates