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Before Seahawks, Macdonald was most ‘consequential’ hire at Michigan

Feb 28, 2024, 12:01 AM | Updated: 12:04 am

Seattle Seahawks Mike Macdonald...

Michigan DC Mike Macdonald during a game against Northern Illinois on Sept. 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

The Seattle Seahawks need a defensive turnaround in the worst way in 2024.

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Which is why Seattle fans will be happy to hear what one Michigan reporter had to say about the former Wolverines defensive coordinator and new Seahawks head coach Mike Macdonald.

Austin Meek, who covers Michigan football for The Athletic, joined us Tuesday on Seattle Sports’ Bump and Stacy to talk about Macdonald’s time in Ann Arbor under head coach Jim Harbaugh.

“I’m not sure there was a more consequential hire that Jim Harbaugh made during his tenure at Michigan than hiring Mike Macdonald to be his defensive coordinator,” Meek said.

“I remember when Michigan hired Macdonald, a lot of us were like, who is this guy? Not somebody that we were familiar with, not somebody who had any track record at all coaching at the college level. Somebody who’d come up through the Ravens system and was recommended to Harbaugh through his brother, (Ravens head coach) John (Harbaugh).”

Those around the Michigan program soon took notice of what Macdonald brought to the table.

“Initially when he took over, I think there was a fair amount of wait and see because Michigan was coming off several years with Don Brown as the defensive coordinator and it had started out really well, and then progressively the results had diminished,” Meek said. “So they needed a new voice and someone to come in and really revamp that defense. Macdonald brought in the Ravens’ scheme that now has become a staple at Michigan and it really turned around the direction of the program. Because Michigan was in a really rough spot coming off of the 2020 season when they were 2-4 and that defense and the turnaround they had on defense the next year with Aiden Hutchinson as the leader really paved the way for all of the success that came after that. I think hiring him will go down as one of the best moves Harbaugh made during his time at Michigan.”

Macdonald took over as DC for Michigan in 2021, a team that entered the season unranked after a dismal, abbreviated 2020 campaign. Despite several departing veterans, his defense held opponents to 14 points or fewer in their first four consecutive games and boasted an electric pass rush led by Big Ten defensive player of the year Aiden Hutchinson.

Macdonald returned to Baltimore in 2022, and while the Ravens’ defense didn’t get off to quite the same hot start (they gave up 42 points to the Dolphins in Week 2 and at least 400 net yards in two of their first three games), by 2023 they were the top-scoring defense in the league, giving up more than 24 points just twice.

To hear the full Bump and Stacy conversation with The Athletic’s Austin Meek, which also includes thoughts on potential Seahawks draft target J.J. McCarthy, check out the podcast at this link or in the player near the top of this post.

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