Seahawks busy learning Mike Macdonald’s ‘really creative’ defense

May 23, 2024, 11:05 AM

Seattle Seahawks Byron Murphy II rookie minicamp 2024...

Byron Murphy II of the Seattle Seahawks works out at rookie minicamp on May 3. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Seattle Seahawks safety Rayshawn Jenkins saw first-hand last season just how effective Mike Macdonald’s cutting-edge defensive scheme can be.

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While playing for Jacksonville, Jenkins watched Macdonald’s league-best Baltimore Ravens defense hold the Jaguars to just seven points and come up with a game-sealing strip-sack fumble in a key Week 14 clash. It was Jacksonville’s second-lowest point total of the season.

Now as Seahawks head coach, Macdonald brings his versatile defensive scheme to Seattle, where Jenkins hopes he and his teammates can experience a similar level of success.

“The defense is really creative,” Jenkins said Wednesday after Seattle’s second OTA practice. “It’s a lot of thinking, but we’re professionals so that just comes with the game. But I think it’ll be challenging for opposing offenses to kind of figure out what we’re in. If you go back and watch just the Baltimore film, you’ll see how difficult it was for any quarterback in the league to get anything on them.

“It’s very exciting,” he added. “… Those (Ravens) players had high success in this defense, and we’re looking forward to doing the same thing.”

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Macdonald, who spent two highly successful seasons as the Ravens’ defensive coordinator, is busy installing his defensive scheme at OTAs. After the second of 10 OTAs on Wednesday, Macdonald said about 20% of his scheme has been installed. He said the focus right now is building a strong foundation of concepts for when training camp begins in July, rather than trying to make sure everything is installed by the end of OTAs.

“Not really worried about the pace of how fast we get everything in,” Macdonald said. “We want a really good foundation for when we get into camp. So we have a schedule, but we’ll adjust as we go. … We’re chasing the baseline – base fundamentals. It’s not a huge install. It’s concepts. So we’ll get the base concepts in and then we’ll go from there.”

‘You’ve gotta be on the details’

Last season, Macdonald’s Ravens defense became the first in NFL history to lead the league in each of points allowed, sacks and takeaways. As Ted Nguyen of The Athletic detailed in an article last week, Macdonald’s scheme features a unique level of positional versatility and interchangeability. That allows him to constantly mix his fronts and pressures, which leaves opposing offenses struggling to determine where exactly the pressure will be coming from. It also enables him to adapt and cater his defensive scheme to each opponent.

The 30-year-old Jenkins, who played for three different defensive coordinators over a combined sevens seasons with the Chargers and Jaguars, said the biggest key in Macdonald’s defense is communication.

“Every play, every movement on the offense, every shift, every motion, something has to be communicated,” Jenkins said. “We’re never just sitting back in one defense. So it’s a really creative, really fun defense, but you’ve gotta be on the details. … It has definitely challenged me as far as studying the game internally.”

What separates new Seahawks coach Mike Macdonald? Analyst dives in

As Macdonald mentioned, the goal at this stage of the offseason is to build a baseline of concepts that ultimately will allow his defense to evolve and morph throughout the season.

“This is a great time of year to sharpen the sword and kind of build the foundation, build a platform, a jumping-off point for when we come back in the fall,” Macdonald said. “And then even when that happens, you’re gonna constantly evolve of where you’re gonna put guys and how you’re gonna interact and what groups you’re gonna put out there.

“If you’re not doing that, you get static and offenses kind of get a beat for what you’re doing, so you’ve gotta keep it moving.”

More Seattle Seahawks coverage

• Geno Smith on Hawks’ new-look offense: ‘Great things coming for us’
• Huard: The Seahawks position group most thrilled by new schemes
• How Byron Murphy II has advantage over past Seahawks 1st-rounders
• Ranked: Who are Seahawks’ five most irreplaceable players?
• What Big Ray wants to see out of Seattle Seahawks LT Charles Cross

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