The Seahawks Suck At Hiring Defensive Coordinators

As Sean Desai gets poached by the Eagles to be their defensive coordinator – following one season as our … Associate Head Coach & Defensive Assistant (emphasis on the secondary) – I can’t help but think we’re keeping the wrong guy.

Clint Hurtt has been a punching bag for me ever since he was promoted from Underwhelming Defensive Line Coach to Underwhelming Defensive Coordinator, following the firing of Ken Norton Jr. Why hire some guy to install Vic Fangio’s defensive scheme when you could’ve just hired Vic Fucking Fangio (hired by the Dolphins this year, after taking 2022 off)? It doesn’t seem like we did any sort of DC search whatsoever last year. At the very least, we could’ve made Desai our DC and made Hurtt our Associate Head Coach or whatever.

It’s going to be pretty easy to compare the three guys – Desai, Hurtt, and Fangio – as they all embark on their jobs. Desai has the advantage of coaching for a Super Bowl team that was largely defined by their excellent defense. Fangio is going to a squad with a lot of talent, that figures to bolster that talent (considering they’re pretty well set on offense, assuming they opt to keep Tua) this offseason. Hurtt has one small advantage in that he’s been in the same organization for a number of years, with this being his second year in charge. The experience and familiarity should hopefully do him well.

I would also argue that Hurtt has the easiest job of the three. It’s been lean times for the Seahawks defense in recent years; all he has to do is build it up to be semi-competent and he’ll have done his job. If he exceeds expectations, then he should be on the fast track to head coaching opportunities. Whereas Desai is being given the keys of a defense that’s already great; there’s nowhere to go but down! And Fangio has the misfortune of being in a conference with a lot of elite offensive talent to go up against. He’s also getting up there in age and at some point you have to wonder when he’s going to shuffle off into retirement.

That being said, I have the least faith in Hurtt. It wouldn’t shock me in the slightest if the Seahawks continue to be inept. At which point, I’ll be the one “I Told You So”-ing on this blog until my fingers fall off.

What was the one thing that worked on the 2022 Seahawks defense? Where was the one area that exceeded expectations (while the others flopped miserably)? It was the secondary. Where Desai was firmly in charge. I can only dream of what might’ve been for the rest of the defense. It’s not that I expect the secondary to suddenly take a step back; I’m just lamenting the loss of someone who seems so damned good at his job (in favor of keeping someone who, I guess, gives good interview?).

But, this has been a long string of terrible defensive coordinators, with precious few bright spots.

Ken Norton was a bust. Kris Richard oversaw the dismantling of a once-great unit. Dan Quinn was the lone amazing hire by Pete Carroll in his tenure. Even Gus Bradley, I don’t know if he was good, so much as the organization just so happened to draft and sign a lot of future Hall of Famers. Bradley sure as shit hasn’t done a damn thing in any of his other jobs, as head coach or DC.

This isn’t just a Pete Carroll problem, though. Ray Rhodes was the only good hire of the Mike Holmgren tenure (though the tragic loss of Fritz Shurmur in 1999 – before he could even coach a game for us – was painfully unfortunate). And, none of the guys pre-Holmgren were anything special; even Tom Catlin – the DC under Chuck Knox – was never able to parlay that into anything outside of Seattle (even taking a demotion to linebackers coach once Knox left the organization).

It’s not that the Seahawks have always been terrible on defense outside of the Dan Quinn era; we’ve had plenty of talented players come through the organization since its inception. But, I would argue we’ve largely been underwhelming. Sometimes that’s due to bad luck, or injuries, or randomness. Sometimes it’s due to incompetence at the top, or a lack of skilled defenders. But, it sucks when you see the organization making a mistake in the moment.

I want the Seahawks to be good. I’ll often bend over backwards to talk myself into this team being better than it actually is. But, I can’t do anything with Clint Hurtt. Just like I couldn’t do anything with Ken Norton. We just have to fucking endure it. We have to watch mediocre defense for another 2-4 years before another change will inevitably have to be made. Meanwhile, we’re all going to wish the Seahawks had opted to choose Desai, because even if the Eagles take a slight step back on defense, they’re still going to be leaps and bounds better than the Seahawks for the foreseeable future.

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