Brock: The biggest difference Macdonald brings to Seahawks

May 28, 2024, 2:57 PM

Seattle Seahawks Julian Love Titans 2023...

Julian Love of the Seattle Seahawks breaks up a pass against the Titans in 2023. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

(Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

The Seattle Seahawks’ defense will look considerably different this fall under new head coach Mike Macdonald, who brings his cutting-edge scheme to the Pacific Northwest after two immensely successful seasons as the Baltimore Ravens’ defensive coordinator.

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

Just how different will it look from the defense Pete Carroll ran in Seattle?

“I think the single greatest difference in Mike Macdonald being the head coach of the Seahawks versus the last 14 years of success with Pete is going to be the volume and the reams of defense that this group will be capable of playing,” former NFL quarterback Brock Huard said during Monday’s Blue 88 on Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk.

Huard pointed to a telling detail from Macdonald’s press conference last Wednesday after the second of Seattle’s 10 OTA practices. At that point, Macdonald said approximately 20% of the defense had been installed.

“They’re in the third phase of on-field activities and they’ve got 20% of the defense,” Huard said. “I don’t think it’s crazy to say that by the third phase of OTAs with (former defensive coordinators) Clint Hurtt and Ken Norton Jr. and Pete Carroll, (much closer) to 100% of the defense is in.

“There were blitz packages and special packages and nickel packages and all those things (in Carroll’s defense), so maybe it wasn’t quite 100%. Maybe it was 60 or 70%. But 20%? And then when you listen to (current Seahawks players) talk about the amount of horsepower (Macdonald’s defense) takes from a football cerebral standpoint with these checks, you get it.”

One of those players who spoke about Macdonald’s scheme was new Seahawks safety and eight-year NFL veteran Rayshawn Jenkins.

“It’s a really creative, really fun defense, but you’ve gotta be on the details,” Jenkins said after last Wednesday’s OTA practice. “… It has definitely challenged me as far as studying the game internally.”

As Ted Nguyen of The Athletic detailed in an article earlier this month, Macdonald’s scheme features a unique level of positional versatility and interchangeability. To pull that off, Nguyen explained that Macdonald attaches his blitzes to patterns instead of defensive fronts.

As a result, players end up learning the entire pressure pattern instead of just their individual roles. That allows them to better understand what their teammates are doing, and it ultimately enables them to switch positions and apply pressure from a wide variety of players and spots on the field.

“Will they play it well in year number one and hit the ground running? Probably some work in progress,” Huard said. “But the volume of defense will be so significantly different than what we have seen. And by the way, the other thing was pretty darn successful for a long, long time. There’s more than one way to do it. But it’s going to be very, very, very different with the volume of defense.”

Listen to the full conversation from Brock and Salk in the podcast at this link or in the player near the top of this post. Tune in to Brock and Salk weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m. or find the podcast on the Seattle Sports app.

More Seattle Seahawks coverage

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Brock: The biggest difference Macdonald brings to Seahawks