3 Takeaways: Seahawks coach Macdonald sits down with Brock & Salk

Feb 12, 2024, 1:21 PM

Seattle Seahawks Mike Macdonald Brock Salk...

New head coach of the Seattle Seahawks, Mike Macdonald, talks to Brock and Salk. (Seattle Sports Photo/Taylor Jacobs)

(Seattle Sports Photo/Taylor Jacobs)

Seattle Sports’ Mike Salk admitted it felt different Monday morning interviewing new Seattle Seahawks coach Mike Macdonald on Brock & Salk. After all, former Seahawks coach Pete Carroll had joined different iterations of the Seattle Sports morning show most Mondays during football season for the past decade-plus.

Seahawks’ Macdonald details what drew him to OC Ryan Grubb

But it’s a new era at the VMAC in Renton, so Macdonald joined the program to address a wide range of topics, including how Jim Harbaugh and John Harbaugh shaped his career, his thoughts on the current roster, what he looks for in a quarterback and more.

Let’s look at three takeaways from the conversation.

Macdonald is deeply influenced by both Harbaugh brothers.

During the Seahawks’ coaching search, a portion of the fan base thought it would be worth pursuing Jim Harbaugh despite some of his strange antics and the rivalry he had with the Seahawks when he coached the San Francisco 49ers. However, while Harbaugh eventually left the University of Michigan after winning the national championship for the Los Angeles Chargers, he never emerged as a candidate for Seahawks general manager John Schneider.

Instead, Schneider hired a coach who formed his philosophy from working under both Harbaugh brothers. Macdonald spent one season as Jim Harbaugh’s defensive coordinator at Michigan in 2021, but he also worked under Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh in various roles dating back to 2014, most recently as defensive coordinator in 2022 and 2023.

“It’s a lot of who I am. It really is,” Macdonald said when asked by Brock Huard about working for both coaches. “I mean, that’s been my experience the last 10 years. I’ve really been shaped through those two organizations. There’s no alter agenda with those two… They’re as real as it gets, and the players realize that. Their motive is what’s best for the team and what’s best for the players. They have their players’ backs and they’re ready to go to war.

“Those guys, you know them and they’re ultimate competitors and so I have the same mentality. It’s through the lens of what’s best for the team, what’s best for the players, and we’re going to build it that way rather than just, you know, being stubborn and seeing what Mike McDonald thinks all the time.”

Mike Macdonald didn’t offer detail on what the Seattle Seahawks roster will look like.

Will the Seahawks be going through a full rebuild or will they look to augment a roster that went 9-8 last season?

Macdonald didn’t offer much detail when asked how he’s approaching roster construction with Schneider. But he hinted that the Seahawks would not be doing a full overhaul.

“I don’t know if I can answer that,” he said. “That’s something that John and I are working through and I know there’s some decisions that we gotta make here pretty soon. I’m not sure. I’m not going in with the mentality of, ‘Hey, let’s flip this whole thing over.’ We’re not. I don’t think that’s the mentality. It’s more of an open mind, what’s best for the team. Obviously, John’s handling it on the personnel side, but we’ll tag team through that whole process.”

The Seahawks reportedly can opt out of the remaining salary owed on the final two years of quarterback Geno Smith’s three-year, $75 million contract, which includes up to $30 million in additional incentives. But they would either have to cut Smith by Friday or trade him next month, according to an ESPN report. The hosts didn’t ask Macdonald directly about Smith’s future with the organization, but Macdonald acknowledged he’s already spoken with Smith and backup Drew Lock and described what he wants to see in his quarterback.

“Quarterbacks come in all different shapes and sizes,” Macdonald said. “Can you make people around you better? And can you bring people together, and are they going to go play for you? In terms of anticipation and accuracy and playing on time, playing with anticipation, being able to see that, being able to have great vision of the field and see it, those things are obviously incredibly important.”

Macdonald will lean on Leslie Frazier

Macdonald has put together a staff filled with up-and-coming coaches. Offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb led one of the most exciting downfield passing offenses in college football the past two seasons for the UW Huskies. Defensive coordinator Aden Durde earned high marks for his work as the Dallas Cowboys’ defensive line coach over the past three seasons.

But neither Grubb or Durde has NFL coordinator experience. And Macdonald, 36, is the youngest head coach in the NFL.

That’s why hiring Leslie Frazier as assistant head coach was especially important. Frazier spent 2017-22 as defensive coordinator for the Buffalo Bills. He also spent four seasons as the Vikings head coach. And at 64, he’s been an NFL coach in some capacity since 1999.

“I have so much respect for him both in what he knows football-wise and also just his character,” Macdonald said. “He’s going to be a massive resource for us and (for) me personally navigating being a first-time head coach. He’s kind of been through the wars and can see around the corners.

“He’s been a great help so far, but we’re working on this thing as a great partnership between him and I. Just really respect Les,” he added. “I’m really happy that that he decided to join.”

Hear the full Brock and Salk conversation with Seattle Seahawks coach Mike Macdonald in the podcast at this link or either the video or audio player near the top of this post.

More on Mike Macdonald and Seattle Seahawks

Huard: Good, bad and ugly of Seahawks adding Grubb to Mac’s staff
ESPN’s Graziano: Seahawks not alone in thinking Macdonald is ‘a star’
Why Joel Klatt thinks J.J. McCarthy fits as Seahawks QB
Kurt Warner details Seahawks’ dilemma with QB Geno Smith
Husky revenge? Mike Macdonald, Seahawks grabbing DeBoer’s coaches

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3 Takeaways: Seahawks coach Macdonald sits down with Brock & Salk