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Huard: Seahawks who will benefit from Macdonald’s blitz schemes

Feb 6, 2024, 8:30 AM

Seattle Seahawks...

Quandre Diggs of the Seattle Seahawks celebrates a stop against the San Francisco 49ers on Nov. 23, 2023. (Jane Gershovich/Getty Images)

(Jane Gershovich/Getty Images)

With Mike Macdonald being the new head coach of the Seattle Seahawks, expect the Hawks’ defense to look quite a bit different in 2024.

Huard: Key stat for Seattle Seahawks coach Mike Macdonald that jumps out

Macdonald comes to Seattle after spending nine of the last 10 years in Baltimore, including the last two leading an elite Ravens defense.

Macdonald’s defenses have been incredibly stout while also forcing turnovers and recording sacks. Something that makes his defenses stand out are how he gets pressure on opposing quarterbacks through creative and disguised blitzes.

“They create a lot of issues that create a lot of pressures,” former NFL offensive lineman and current NFL analyst Mark Schlereth told Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob on Monday. “And then when you look at Seattle’s defense, I think their back-end has got a lot of potential to be very dynamic, very good in the blitz game. At linebacker, one thing Baltimore had was unbelievable speed at the middle linebacker position with both (Patrick) Queen and Roquan Smith. I don’t know that you have that necessarily in Seattle. Maybe you do, but I would say not quite like them. They can do some things, walk up and make you go man and then bring edge pressure and still get to their drops and things of that nature.”

If that’s the case, who are some Seahawks defenders that will benefit from Macdonald’s pressure schemes? Former NFL quarterback Brock Huard broke it down during Tuesday’s Brock and Salk on Seattle Sports.

“Spoon is going to be unbelievable,” Huard said.

“Spoon,” of course, is standout rookie defensive back Devon Witherspoon, who was arguably Seattle’s top defender in 2023. The No. 5 overall pick in last year’s draft was a dynamic player for the Seahawks last year, playing both outside corner as well as in the slot at nickel. He also was stout in run support and was very good blitzing off the edge.

Huard thinks that as Macdonald dug into Witherspoon’s tape and made calls to people about the roster, he saw some similar traits to one of Baltimore’s top defenders in All-Pro safety Kyle Hamilton.

“I know he’s not Kyle Hamilton size at 6 foot 4 and 220 (pounds), but (Witherspoon is) quicker and he’s faster and pound-for-pound he is just as dynamic,” Huard said. “So at nickel, at safety, as a blitzer, he is going to be unleashed and unlocked in even more ways than he was last season. He is going to be the one.”

Huard thinks a player that we’ve almost never seen blitz for the Seahawks may wind up being utilized in more creative ways starting this season.

“That’s where I think a Quandre (Diggs) maybe comes to life a little bit more,” Huard said.

Diggs just wrapped up his fifth year with the Seahawks, and he’s traditionally played a deep free safety with a big part of his role being to prevent big passing plays over the top. Diggs rarely played near the line of scrimmage, but Huard thinks the veteran safety may add some new wrinkles to his game under Macdonald.

“I think Quandre has still got a whole lot of instinct, a whole lot of disguise, a whole lot more skill in there,” Huard said.

But what about Jamal Adams?

Adams just finished his fourth year in Seattle, another injury-plagued campaign. Adams used to be a swiss army knife-type defender, but injuries have limited his production over the last three seasons.

“You would think that Jamal four years ago would be like the guy,” Huard said. “But at this stage of Jamal’s career, just some of the speed, some of the challenges he’s faced with his body being beat up, I think maybe this scheme won’t be as helpful and beneficial to him. And it’s another reason why he will be a big, big conversation along with some of those other huge salary cap guys moving into this offseason.”

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Huard: Seahawks who will benefit from Macdonald’s blitz schemes