Lefko: Why Seahawks’ next OC is likely to come from a Super Bowl staff

Feb 9, 2024, 11:36 AM | Updated: Feb 12, 2024, 12:30 pm

In the world of sports, expectations and performance boil down to “What have you done for me lately?” In that vein, after the initial excitement and expository phase for new Seattle Seahawks head coach Mike Macdonald wore off, the speculation and questions soon pivoted to figuring out what the rest of this Seahawks coaching staff will look like.

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Because of Macdonald’s defensive background, the single most important assistant will be whomever the Seahawks hire as their offensive coordinator. It’s a position that will operate with plenty of independence and creative control, but what that also means is there will be outsized pressure on the man who assumes the role.

So… why haven’t the Seahawks hired anyone yet? They are the only team in the NFL without an offensive coordinator (the Saints job is technically still vacant, but it has been publicly reported that they will hire 49ers assistant Klint Kubiak after the Super Bowl ends) and the fervor in discussing the vacancy grows with each passing day.

Much like the Saints, it feels like the Seahawks’ next offensive coordinator will come from one of the two teams playing on Sunday. They were patient in waiting for Macdonald to finish the season as Ravens defensive coordinator, and with only three reported interviews for OC candidates so far, it feels like another patient, thorough assessment of a guy whose season is still in progress.

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So, if this is the path the Seahawks have chosen, which of these 49ers and Chiefs assistants could it be? Ah, well I’m glad you asked. I’ve boiled it down into three categories for the potential hire.

The Favorites

Anthony Lynn: The 49ers assistant head coach and running backs coach has plenty of experience, and it would be a safe bet if Macdonald stockpiles veterans around him. Lynn has been coaching in the NFL since the 2000 season, including four years as Chargers head coach and a recent offensive coordinator stint with the Lions in 2021. That was not the most resounding endorsement for what Lynn would bring as an OC, as he was stripped of playcalling duties midway through the season, but perhaps that experience leads to new ideas if he does get another chance in Seattle.

Brian Griese: The 49ers quarterbacks coach is the most fascinating name out there because of the dichotomy between his long, successful career as an NFL quarterback and the lack of experience coaching. Griese only decided he wanted to get into coaching two years ago, but as this article outlines, it was Griese who helped identify what could make Brock Purdy a successful NFL quarterback. The intuitive knowledge that comes from having been a quarterback in the league for a decade is highly appealing in this era. An offensive coordinator and his quarterback have to be of like mind and have almost a telepathic understanding of how to run and implement an offense. Griese’s nascent coaching background does lead to questions about whether he is ready to handle the entirety of an offense instead of simply a position group. But you don’t stick in the NFL as a quarterback for as long as he did without knowing how to run an offense, and it feels like that translates to what he has done so far as an assistant coach.

Klay Kubiak: The 49ers assistant quarterbacks coach is certainly well-versed in the coaching world. When your dad was a successful head coach (Gary Kubiak) and you work under San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan, doors open up. Klay Kubiak was also mentioned in that San Francisco Chronicle article about helping to identify and develop Brock Purdy. Former quarterbacks possess the innate knowledge of how to teach offensive concepts and attack defenses because they went through it as a player. Any hire of a first-time coordinator comes with a risk but some of that uncertainty could be mitigated by hiring a guy who was been around the NFL his entire life.

Video: The reason Seahawks may be waiting to hire an offensive coordinator

The Dark Horses

Joe Bleymaier: The Chiefs passing game coordinator is among the stable of well-respected minds that are part of one of the most successful offenses in the NFL. The inevitable question that hovers over any Chiefs assistant is whether their success is due to Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes. Bleymaier has been with the Chiefs for eight seasons and is well-positioned to bring that system to Seattle – if the belief is that he can replicate that offense without Patrick Mahomes.

Brian Fleury: The 49ers tight ends coach interviewed for the Patriots offensive coordinator job and played quarterback in college (if we’re working under my preferred assumption that playing that position is the best precursor for the skills needed to dictate and lead an entire offense). Fleury is relatively inexperienced coaching on the offensive side of the ball, though, with his first crack as an offensive assistant coach coming in this position with the 49ers in 2022.

The Longshot

Matt Nagy: The Chiefs offensive coordinator would be a home run hire and the best choice out of any assistant coach in the Super Bowl. However, there is no indication that he would want to leave Kansas City. Because it would be a lateral move, the Chiefs could block the Seahawks from interviewing Nagy (as the Giants did with Mike Kafka). The appeal would be if Nagy yearns to call plays, but unlike Eric Bieniemy leaving to try and break free of the Andy Reid shadow, Nagy has already been a head coach. On the surface, it doesn’t seem like there is a need to prove anything or leave the stability of Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs dynasty.

Who will be the Seattle Seahawks’ pick?

Kyle Shanahan’s track record of developing assistants speaks volumes. His coaching tree already includes Robert Saleh, Mike McDaniel, and DeMeco Ryans as head coaches, along with Mike LaFleur and Bobby Slowik, who were assistants that moved into coordinator roles, plus the impending hire of the elder Kubiak to the Saints.

The working relationship with Macdonald is a fundamentally important component of this hire. The Seahawks’ reported move to hire Leslie Frazier as assistant head coach brings a veteran voice and mentor for a young head coach, and I vacillated between applying that same principle for an offensive coordinator or taking a chance on a similarly young, bright mind for that position.

Bumpus: How hire of Leslie Frazier helps Seahawks’ Macdonald

Ultimately, by giving Macdonald a six-year contract, the Seahawks are giving him the freedom to take risks. He can afford to make a mistake the first time on a coordinator hire, especially if the payoff maximizes what the offense can accomplish with its myriad of talent.

I believe Macdonald will take that gamble and make a bold choice when he names Brian Griese as the Seahawks offensive coordinator.

More on the Seattle Seahawks

2024 Pro Football Hall of Fame class includes two who were briefly Seahawks
What’s up with the JSN comments about ex-Seahawks OC Waldron?
What are Seattle Seahawks’ options with crucial QB decision looming?
Report: Seahawks OL coach Dickerson to take same role with Browns
Senior Bowl’s Jim Nagy shares a Seattle Seahawks fit for NFL Draft

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