The Seahawks Hired Leslie Frazier To Be The Assistant Head Coach

There’s a positive and a negative way to take a hire like this, but unfortunately we don’t know all the circumstances around the hire, so the best we can do is speculate. In spite of what remarks are given to the media, we’re not behind closed doors and able to understand the full rationale for Leslie Frazier being the Assistant Head Coach.

For starters, it should be pointed out that not every team HAS an assistant head coach. Usually, someone gets that moniker as a fluffed up promotion of sorts, to coincide with their other job, be it coordinator or some position coach. But, rarely do you see someone as JUST the assistant head coach.

The positive spin on it is: Leslie Frazier is an experienced professional who can help create a softer landing for Mike Macdonald, first-time head coach. Frazier’s been a head coach before, he’s interviewed to be a head coach umpteen times, he’s been a defensive coordinator multiple times over, they worked together briefly, so I’m assuming they’re both pretty like-minded in their football sensibilities. But, no matter how good you are at calling plays, no matter how smart of a football mind you have, there’s no substitute for experience. Someone to teach you, or remind you, of certain things you might not have considered otherwise, when you were focused solely on one side of the football.

The negative spin on it is: the Seahawks just hired a babysitter for Mike Macdonald. They’re hedging their bets a little bit. You’ve got a first-time head coach over here, and you’ve got a well-respected NFL veteran over there, and who are the players going to listen to? Who are the players going to trust more? Maybe Frazier sees this as his last chance to make a real impact. If he can drive a wedge, and maybe Macdonald makes a mistake or two, there’s a chance to be an interim head coach, and if he plays his cards right, a full-time head coach sooner rather than later.

I will say that seems incredibly unlikely. Everything I’ve heard about Frazier is that he’s a phenomenal human being. I have no reason to expect there’s any ulterior motives about this move. But, it is interesting.

If Frazier is really the mentor he’s made out to be, then maybe Macdonald’s whole plan around hiring the remainder of the coaching staff is to go younger across the board. Sure, Macdonald will call the plays at first, but if he hires a green assistant to be a first-time DC, Frazier can be right by his side to guide his hand and help accelerate his development. We don’t know how long Macdonald intends on calling the defense, but presumably he would like to pass the baton sooner rather than later, so he can proceed to being what he was hired to be: this team’s head coach. As he said, the head coach has to coach the entire football team, not just his specialty.

My hunch is that this will be a good thing. My hunch is also that Frazier probably won’t be here longer than a year or two, and then either he’ll retire or he’ll find another job somewhere else. In the grand scheme of things, probably not a huge deal. But, potentially significant in the overall development of Macdonald the Seahawks’ head coach.

The Huskies Hired Steve Belichick To Be The Defensive Coordinator

It’s been a tough last few weeks to be a Husky fan. There was the whole unpleasantness with the National Championship Game, the ensuing coaching carousel, and the myriad of player defections. But, it’s starting to feel like things are turning around a bit.

I’m hearing more about players coming IN rather than players leaving. Maybe not enough for the Huskies to be worth a damn in 2024, but hopefully well-equipped for a bounce-back in 2025.

I also got the chance to listen to Jedd Fisch on the radio last week, as he hopped on the Brock & Salk program. I had kind of avoided a lot of the news when he was originally hired, so this was really my first introduction to our new head coach. It’s not that I don’t believe in him; I think it’s as good of a hire as we could’ve gotten, given the circumstances. What he did in turning around the Wildcats so quickly is nothing short of DeBoer-ian. I’m sure he’s a great coach, great recruiter, and he’ll do excellent work for the University of Washington.

But, I mean, he had one foot already out the door before he even signed on the dotted line. Florida is apparently his dream job, and I’m guessing the moment that becomes available, he’ll be gone. Short of that, I’m sure with even moderate success at Washington, he’ll use it to bounce to the SEC and that’ll be that. I give it three years, tops, and only because this first year is looking to be a little down for Washington.

So, I’m not going into this situation with any delusions that Fisch is going to be here long term. College Football is what it is. It’ll be smart for the University of Washington to have people dedicated to tracking more up-and-coming head coaching candidates for when this needs to happen again.

My take-away from the Fisch radio interview is that I’m actually impressed. He does seem really forthright, even if there’s a used car salesman sort of vibe about him. He said that the whole “interview process” consisted of about a 45-minute phone call. Then, a few hours later, he received a formal offer; that was it! Compare that to what the Seahawks went through before landing on Mike Macdonald, and it’s night & day!

Fisch never once talked about Washington being the be-all, end-all. He never made any promises to be here for the duration. His biggest reason for coming here isn’t the locale or the history or even the recent success; he came to Washington because we’re going to the Big Ten next year, and it’s vitally important to be in either the Big Ten or SEC going forward, if you want to compete with the big dogs.

That’s it. His sales tactic to recruits is as follows: we’re in the Big Ten, we’re running a pro style system (so if you want to go to the NFL, best to get your feet wet here), and we’re going to be willing to play Freshmen (because that’s the only way you’re ever going to manage to KEEP your Freshman, since so many would rather enter the transfer portal than red shirt), even if it means we have to endure the growing pains. The main difference between Fisch and DeBoer appears to be Fisch’s insistence that building through high school players is preferable to trying to poach the transfer portal. Of course, at this point, DeBoer won’t have any trouble getting players any way he wants them. There’s no stopping the Alabama train.

Another feather in the Fisch cap is his connections. He has pretty extensive ties in both college and the pro ranks. That experience and network should work wonders. Which brings us to Steve Belichick, our new defensive coordinator.

Belichick has been calling plays for the New England Patriots under his dad for the last however-many years. It’s been a while. The only reason he wasn’t deemed to be the Defensive Coordinator there is because they also had Head Coach In Waiting Jerod Mayo on the defensive staff, and it appears Bill didn’t want to play favorites.

Regardless, Steve Belichick might’ve been a nepo hire originally, but I think he’s proven himself quite well. Say what you will about the Patriots since Tom Brady left, but their defense has been up to the task of at least keeping them in games. I think this is a phenomenal hire! And I can’t wait to see what it does for our recruiting going forward.

I guess you could say I’m coming around on this whole thing. I still don’t know how good the Huskies will be in 2024. There’s really two pieces to this thing: the recruiting part, and the development part. DeBoer was always known as a superior head coach who needed to work on his recruiting prowess (seems like, if you’re a great coach, and you win all the time, what more do you really need to do to sell yourself?). Fisch, on the other hand, has been lauded for his recruiting. But, he only has one 10-win season under his belt so far as a head coach. Will he have what it takes on fall Saturdays to make up for a temporarily-lacking roster? We’ll find out.

What’s More Important For The Seahawks: Scheme Or Talent?

You know what’s always been hard for me to wrap my head around? The Seahawks under Pete Carroll – for multiple years in a row – had the best defense in the NFL. They drafted well, they developed well, they hit on some free agents, and they had a scheme that put it all together, worked to everyone’s strengths, and was a menace for opposing offenses to play against.

Then, for many years after that – still under Pete Carroll – the Seahawks were among the worst defensive teams in the NFL. Same coach, ostensibly the same scheme, yet for whatever reason nothing was working, no matter how many resources we poured into that side of the ball.

Well, the simple argument there is that TALENT is more important. When this team had multiple All Pros and future Hall of Famers, they were amazing; when they lost all those guys, the Seahawks were crummy.

But, I keep coming back to this post, and the point I made about every team that was worse than us defensively in 2022 were LEAPS AND BOUNDS better than us in 2023. We’re looking at the Lions, Vikings, Texans, Bears, Raiders, and Falcons. Other than the Texans drafting Will Anderson, there really wasn’t much help for any of those teams. I know the Bears made some trade deadline deals, but I don’t know if there was a ton of influx among those teams. Certainly not a ton of big names! I’m willing to wager there was a lot of talent-holdover from 2022 to 2023; yet some significant improvements were made!

That has to be scheme, right? Yes, the L.O.B. had a unique scheme – Cover 3 – that not a lot of other teams were utilizing the way we were. But, eventually, teams started to hone in on routes to defeat Cover 3. Sure, the talent declined, but also the scheme got stale, and the combination of that really did us in.

It never felt like the Seahawks took that next step – made that next adjustment – to fight back against what offenses were doing against them. They had their mantras: don’t get beat deep, focus on stopping the run. But, that just left a wide swath of the middle of the field wide open, and our softer coverages were incredibly beatable.

There’s talent on this defense. Devon Witherspoon, Riq Woolen, and Tre Brown are all good to great. Jordyn Brooks continually shows you why he was deemed a first round talent. Nwosu, Mafe, Leonard Williams, Jarran Reed, Dre’Mont Jones, Julian Love; there are and were DUDES on this side of the ball. In spite of their age, there’s a lot guys like Quandre Diggs and Bobby Wagner can bring to the table; on the flipside, I’d like to think there’s more we could be getting out of Darrell Taylor and Derick Hall. We don’t have that one huge defensive line pass rush monster, but then again, do the Falcons or Vikings? Are the guys on the Raiders or Bears THAT much better than our guys?

Or, did those teams and respective coaches scheme their guys up to play better than their overall talent might otherwise indicate?

I watch a good amount of football, not just Seahawks games. Yet I never really see other teams play quite like we do. Every fucking week, it’s like we get bled dry on defense. Teams picking us apart, getting easy completions, rarely seeing any sort of consistent pressure. Oh sure, the Seahawks will pick it up against inept offenses. But, if you’re even remotely competent, you’re going to have a pretty easy time moving up and down the field and scoring points.

Carolina, with Andy Dalton, should not be able to generate 378 yards and 27 points, I’m sorry! The Steelers, on their second offensive coordinator and their third quarterback, should not be able to come into your house and get 468 yards and 30 points! This isn’t getting routed by the Ravens, or the Cowboys not punting once. These are TERRIBLE offenses moving the football at will, on the road, in one of the loudest environments in the NFL.

Which is why I was so excited to hear that Mike Macdonald is planning on calling the defense, at least at first. I have zero doubt whatsoever that we could bring back exactly the same D as 2023 and see vastly superior results, just with the change in scheme.

What have we heard so often from players who left Seattle for other teams? Especially the defensive linemen: the Seahawks don’t let you do anything. They’re more worried about plugging gaps than they are about getting up field and making plays on the quarterback. They’re so concerned about giving up anything over the top that they play hyper-conservative and welcome teams taking the underneath stuff. The only problem with that is when they DO take that underneath stuff. It makes converting on third down easier, it makes avoiding third downs entirely easier, and inevitably your team is going to make some mistakes causing you to give up a deep ball or two anyway.

And what have we heard about Mike Macdonald? That he’s cerebral. That he studies tape more than anyone. That he’s the most prepared guy on the team, who’s going to find your weakness and exploit it. He’s going to make the offense’s job miserable. And that, in turn, is going to lead to more sacks, more turnovers, and doing it all with less blitzing.

Sure sounds like the scheme can be awfully important! I mean, I’d love more than anything to have that nice cross-section of both; who doesn’t want more talent on their roster? But, I’m not prepared to put it all on the feet of the talent.

Granted, if you’re the 49ers right now, you’ve got quite the bounty on that side of the ball. But, we don’t even need to be the best of the best. I would settle for just being better than we’ve been. Let’s start there, and see where Macdonald and company can take us.

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.

The Seahawks Are One Of The Last Two Teams To Hire A Head Coach

There’s sort of a nebulous beginning to this blog. I’m the kind of guy who would very much be someone to celebrate the “birthday” of a blog he’s poured so many hours of his life into, but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what that date actually is. If you go backwards to the very first post on Seattle Sports Hell, you’ll see something dated 1/11/2010, but I know for a fact that that particular post was ripped from a previous blog I kept (on LiveJournal of all places). At some point that year, I decided to write a little bit about sports most every day, until the journal got too bogged down in sports content. So, I started a new blog – on WordPress – where this blog in its infancy got its start in August of 2010. At some point not long after that, a friend of mine savvy in the art of website creation talked me into just getting my own URL and running it through WordPress’ dashboard. That old WordPress blog is no longer around, so I can’t pinpoint when the changeover happened. But, let’s just say it was sometime in late August of 2010 (after the 22nd, before the 28th) and call it a day.

This is all a long-winded way of saying: in all the time I’ve had this blog, I’ve never had a Seahawks head coaching hire to write about. Thankfully, I threw up a post on my old LiveJournal, upon the Seahawks hiring Pete Carroll, with this little nugget written near the end:

Is it the right move? Who the fuck knows? Who the fuck EVER knows what the right move is? So much of this damned crapshoot is devoted to luck, it’s pathetic. Draft picks panning out, free agents living up to the money they make before they fall apart due to aging and indifference, avoiding too many costly injuries, fumbles bouncing your way, referees not shitting themselves on the field. X’s and O’s rarely decide the outcome. You’ve got to hit on all those intangibles first before you’ve even got a chance.

from the post entitled: A Team You Hate To Love

I would say, if I’m being perfectly honest, my opinion hasn’t changed much in the last 14 years.

My general assessment at the time is that the Seahawks went after a big name head coach to try to prevent too many fans from giving up their season tickets. It’s funny how little I’ve thought about season tickets in the subsequent 14 years. I did find it funny to be complaining about two down years (2008 and 2009, when we won a combined 9 games) after being so “accustomed to winning” in the Mike Holmgren regime.

My other big point in that post was that Jim Mora Jr. wasn’t working, and he wasn’t going to be the guy to turn things around. As much as it felt shitty to give the guy only one season (with a depleted roster to boot), we all still knew it was time for a change.

And today, as shitty as it is to move on from the greatest head coach in franchise history, we all knew it was time. The hard thing had to be done, in hopes that we can turn this franchise around sooner rather than later.

Other than what’s written in that post, though, I don’t really remember a whole lot about the 2010 coaching search, other than the utter shock that Pete Carroll was the choice. I completely forgot, for instance, that Mora was fired on January 8, 2010, and it was reported the same day that Carroll was the hire. How we managed to get around the Rooney Rule is beyond me, but that’s neither here nor there. I seem to recall there was a quickie sham interview set around that time, though initial outrage was quickly and quietly forgotten (interesting info in this article).

It’s hard to say exactly who the Seahawks have interviewed. We know they saw Ejiro Evero (Panthers DC), Patrick Graham (Raiders DC), Mike Kafka (Giants OC), Raheem Morris (Rams DC, current Falcons HC), and Dan Quinn (Cowboys DC). I’ve also seen Frank Smith (Dolphins OC), Ben Johnson (Lions OC), and Bobby Slowik (Texans OC) listed, with Mike Macdonald (Ravens DC) apparently set to meet with the Seahawks this week for the first time (now that the Ravens have been eliminated). And, various people have alluded to there being interest in Mike Vrabel, though no confirmed meetings have leaked to the press.

I see three people of color in that list (to my knowledge), so it appears we’re doing a better job of adhering to the Rooney Rule. And only one of our interview candidates, so far, has been hired as a head coach (Morris), which means unless the Commanders (the only other open job at the moment) snipe one of them, we’ll have our pick of the litter.

Am I particularly excited about any of these guys? Well, I was interested in Vrabel, but that seems to be a lost cause. I thought Hawk Blogger made an intriguing case for Dan Quinn, enough to at least change my mind to the point where I wouldn’t be crushingly disappointed if we did, in fact, hire him (the best argument is Quinn’s elite-level staff he hired when he was with the Falcons).

While I acknowledge that the head coach position in the NFL is important for setting a culture, I’ll be honest: I’m more invested in who we end up hiring to be our offensive and defensive coordinators. I feel like those guys will have more impact game to game, than the head coach. Considering how late we are in the process, there are upsides and downsides. The upside has to do with getting a chance to hire coaches from deep in their respective playoff runs. The downside, though, has to do with filling out the rest of the coaching staff. How many quality guys are available to be coordinators?

Which makes me think that Quinn or Vrabel probably won’t be the pick. If we were going to go with them, it seems like you’d want to snap them up early, and let them fill out their coaching staff before everyone else. If you go with a Mike Macdonald or a Ben Johnson, then you’ve already got a readymade playcaller for one side of the ball or the other. Half the job of picking your coordinators is already done! Oh sure, you still have to bring in someone and give them the title of coordinator; but, I’m guessing, if you hire a Ben Johnson, you’re hiring him to be the head coach and also call plays for your offense.

It doesn’t seem like the Seahawks are interested in anyone on the Chiefs or 49ers, so I’d be shocked if we don’t hire a head coach at some point this week. They’re scrambling to do their final interviews today and tomorrow, then they’ll probably deliberate for a day or two, with the likely hire happening on Thursday or Friday. So, it shouldn’t be long now.

Am I excited? I dunno, not really. I’m sure I will be when the guy is announced (unless it’s the OC from the Giants; what the fuck is he doing on that list?!). I’m more invested in what the Seahawks are going to do with some of the veteran players. But, I will say that if I had to choose, I’d go after the Ravens’ DC. That guy seems like he’s really on the ball. Whatever we can do to prop up this Seahawks defense, is the right decision in my book. Let’s get that right, and worry about the offense later.