The Seahawks Hired Mike Macdonald To Be The New Head Coach

Did the Seahawks just hire the best head coaching candidate available?

It’s interesting to go through the list of current NFL head coaches – in order of year hired – and see the different head coaching classes. When the Commanders finally get their asses in gear, 19 of the 32 head coaches will have been hired in 2022 or later. WELL over half of all head coaches have been in their current jobs for 2 seasons or less.

There are currently only three from the 2021 class: Dan Campbell (whose stock is as high as can be, in spite of some questionable decisions in the NFC Championship Game), Robert Saleh (who feels like he needs a HUGE 2024 with a healthy Aaron Rodgers and probably a deep playoff run if he still wants to be with the Jets in 2025), and Nick Sirianni (who took the Eagles to the Super Bowl in year two, only to almost get fired in year three).

The 2020 class has just two members: Mike McCarthy (in desperate need of a deep playoff run to save his job) and Kevin Stefanski (who probably earned Coach of the Year with the job he did with the Browns in 2023). There’s two left from 2019: Zac Taylor & Matt LaFleur (not going anywhere). No one from 2018. Pretty big three from 2017: Sean McDermott, Sean McVay, and Kyle Shanahan. Then, you have to go back to the Old Guard: 2013 – Andy Reid, 2008 – John Harbaugh, 2007 – Mike Tomlin.

So, what does that tell us? Unless there’s a VERY big surprise looming, there are currently seven members of the 2024 class of new head coaches: Raheem Morris (Atlanta), Dave Canales (Carolina), Jim Harbaugh (Chargers), Jerod Mayo (New England), Brian Callahan (Tennessee), Mike Macdonald (Seahawks), and whoever the Commanders hire. What the above tells us is that in three years, over half of these guys aren’t going to hit.

How to predict where it’s going to work and where it isn’t is kind of a fool’s errand. Canales seems like a longshot to be good. He’s going to the least stable franchise of the bunch (with a crazy owner, a legitimately bad team, and no first round draft pick this year), he’s coming off of only a year as a coordinator, and he just has the feel of a guy who took a job nobody else wanted (I wonder if the same will be said for whoever Washington hires). I’m always leery of the Head Coach In Waiting, ever since it went so poorly with Jim Mora Jr. in Seattle. Seems like Mayo has a huge job ahead of him to right the ship in New England. And I’ll be honest, I had no idea the Titans hired Callahan – or even who Callahan was – until I looked him up and realized he was the OC for Cincinnati. Oh, you mean the offense with the best quarterback we’ve seen since Patrick Mahomes, with one of the most talented and elite wide receivers in the game? Seems hard to NOT have success in that job.

After Raheem Morris’ initial stint as one of the worst active head coaches in the NFL from 2009-2011, I’ll admit he wasn’t on my short list of favorite candidates. Didn’t Bill Simmons coin the phrase WARM (Wins Above Raheem Morris) as a play on baseball’s WAR stat? I’m sure he’s come a long way in the intervening years, but he joins a Falcons team with no quarterback, and no real great shot at drafting one of the top three. If we’re just going by which team – who hired a new coach this offseason – is set up the best from a personnel perspective, then I would say Jim Harbaugh has the best chance to succeed. If the Chargers can’t find a way to win with Justin Herbert and a competent head coach, then they’re more cursed than I realized.

So, unless one of these guys really surprises me, I think Mike Macdonald has a real chance to be great. He’s joining a really solid franchise in the Seahawks, with a lot of good, young, talented players. He’s got a strong GM who should continue to draft well and sign the right guys, now that he’s the head man in charge. And, just based on what I’ve heard about him, it really seems like he has a special aura about him. Very intelligent, very gifted (at least at running a defense), players love him, and he becomes the youngest head coach in the NFL at the moment (if you’re that young and rising through the ranks this fast, you must be doing something right).

Obviously, there are two ways to go with hiring an NFL head coach: bring in a retread, or find someone new from among the college or coordinator ranks. By my calculations, there are currently eight head coaches with previous head coaching experience. Admittedly, that’s sort of an educated guess; I didn’t go through every single bio. Best-case scenario of those guys? Andy Reid, and he obviously gets to enjoy the talents of Mahomes after a successful run in Philly. While there are occasional hits (Pete Carroll obviously being one of them), the retreads never seem to work out too well. For every Bill Belichick, there’s dozens of Mike McCarthys and Dennis Allens. Oddly enough, Bill Belichick was one of the guys available in this go-around, but clearly John Schneider wasn’t ready to hand over the keys to personnel after he just got them handed to himself.

If I had to go with a retread, I would’ve been happy with Mike Vrabel, but I’ll admit I’m pretty thrilled we’re going with someone new and young. I know there’s lots of new, young guys hired every year, but if you find that dynamic someone, it can really be a boost for your franchise for years to come. I find it incredibly heartening that Mike Macdonald is being described as the defensive version of Sean McVay. And not just as a play caller or a schemer, but as someone who can transition into the head coaching job, find the right coaches to put around him, and has the vision to make it all work. On top of which, you know he’s hungry and you know he’s going to give it everything he’s got. Can you say the same thing about Sean Payton or Doug Pederson?

In 2022, in his first year as the Ravens’ DC, they were 3rd in fewest points scored and rushing yards allowed (10th in total yards allowed), as well as tied for fifth in sacks. In 2023, the defense improved to 1st in points allowed, 1st in sacks, and 1st in lowest passer rating allowed, all the while improving to 6th in total yards allowed. And that’s with blitzing less than all but seven teams, according to this article. The more I read about him and hear about him, the more impressed I am!

But, you know, as with any head coach, there are so many variables at play. So many other decisions left to make. Who will be his assistant coaches? What are we doing with Geno Smith? What are we doing in the draft? How long until the team is sold? How solid is John Schneider’s job in the organization?

I’ll tell you what, though, this hire gives me a lot of hope! It’ll ultimately be decided on the football field, likely over the next 2-3 seasons. But, I think we’ve set ourselves up very well to succeed the greatest head coach in franchise history and a legitimate hall of fame candidate. I can’t wait to see what these new Seahawks look like. If nothing else, I’m expecting a rapid turnaround of the defense. And, as we all know, that’s when the Seahawks are always at their best.

Some Quasi-Interesting Seahawks News

As O.J. Simpson’s latest tweet indicates, this isn’t the best time of year for sports fans. Same goes for local sports bloggers, who tend to struggle to find things to write about.

Phil Haynes signed a 1-year extension for $4 million (could be worth up to $5 million). Does that float your boat? This could be a precursor to Gabe Jackson getting cut for salary cap savings of $6.5 million. Does that mean Haynes will be our starting right guard in 2023 (after spending much of 2022 in a time-share with Jackson)? Maybe. Or, maybe $4 million is just the going rate for a quality backup guard. I still believe the team will look to the draft for this spot, and make it an open competition heading into training camp. But, Haynes has a lot of talent, so we could certainly do a lot worse.

Nick Bellore is coming back. I don’t know how much he’s getting, but he’s clearly a valuable special teams player, even if he is a punchline at linebacker.

Former position coach Dave Canales (our quarterbacks coach in 2022) was recently hired by the Bucs to be their offensive coordinator. He’s an intriguing choice. I don’t see that he’s called plays above the high school level, if ever. I understand the Seahawks’ offense did some good things this year, and took some steps forward with Russell Wilson out of here, but it wasn’t so elite that the NFL should start poaching our guys. Is this what Rams fans felt like when they saw Shane Waldron of all people get hired to be our OC? Maybe Canales is just that good of an interviewer.

I think the most interesting news to come out recently was some contract guarantees that were vested.

For instance, D.K. Metcalf’s 2023 base salary became fully guaranteed. $2.22 million isn’t a whole helluva lot, but he also got a $12 million option bonus (to be spread out over the final three years of his deal). Which means that now he’s got two bonuses being spread out over the life of the contract, $7.5 million per year from his signing, and now $4 million from this second bonus. His cap hit for this year is still very reasonable (under $14 million), but it starts to balloon in 2024. That isn’t super important, though, because we likely were never getting rid of him before 2025 anyway, if we get rid of him at all. I would expect – if he’s still playing at a high level – we’ll look to extend him prior to 2025. He’s not going anywhere.

I don’t know if anyone was thinking that the Seahawks might free some money by getting rid of Will Dissly, but rest assured, he’ll be back. His 2023 base salary of $5.64 million is now fully guaranteed. That was never likely, though. He stayed healthy and was moderately productive last year. With his blocking ability, the team was never going to cut him.

The bigger story is the fact that both Quandre Diggs and Jamal Adams saw some guarantees pass by the deadline. Diggs’ base salary of just under $13.5 million is now locked in. There was talk of him taking a step back in 2022, but apparently the organization disagrees with that sentiment. Either that, or they’re banking on a bounce-back. It’ll be interesting to see if he makes it to the end of his deal, which runs through 2024, but also sees his base salary reduced to just under $10.5 million.

I think we were all resigned to our fate that Adams would return at least through 2023, given how his contract was structured. But, it became even more clear once a portion of his base salary became guaranteed. If the Seahawks were going to consider him a sunk cost and cut & run, every little bit of cap savings would’ve helped, even if it was only $2.56 million.

That being said, short of turning into the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year this season, I can’t envision a scenario where he comes back for 2024. Which is why – even with Ryan Neal likely to return – I have to imagine the Seahawks look to draft another safety this year. Possibly as high as the second round, but definitely somewhere in the middle, and with an eye towards taking over sooner rather than later.

Was this post worth the effort? I have no idea. Maybe there will be news that comes out today that’ll be more interesting to write about tomorrow.