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.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2020: Here We Fucking Go Again

If you want to read about my 2019 fantasy football season, click HERE and you can see all the prior links at the top. And, if you want to read about my 2018 season (which has a lot of good info at the beginning about how our league works), click HERE.

Note: please don’t go back and read all of that. There’s a reason why this series is called, “Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team”. You’ve been warned; this isn’t necessarily a generic fantasy football column like you may be used to, this is specifically about MY team, and if the players I write about happen to be relevant to your situation, then all the better, I guess.

Just a quick reminder: this is a 10-team, 2-quarterback PPR league where quarterback points are slightly inflated compared to standard leagues (20 yards per point, 6 points per TD, -4 points per INT). So, you know, it’s pretty important to have a couple quality quarterbacks.

We had our annual fantasy football meeting last week, without much tweaking of the rules. For our purposes, the league season only counts – as it relates to the championship and related prizes therein – if the NFL completes nine regular season weeks. I don’t think that will be much of an issue, but apparently we have to account for these things in these COVID times. We also are allowed one extra IR spot (on top of the IR spot we already get) specifically if someone is diagnosed with COVID and placed on leave accordingly. Seems unlikely that anyone super good will catch it, so I’m not too concerned.

It’s another year with four keepers, so here are mine:

  • Carson Wentz (QB)
  • Daniel Jones (QB)
  • Ezekiel Elliott (RB)
  • Josh Jacobs (RB)

The only holdovers from my 2018 squad are Wentz and Elliott. I made an ill-advised trade for Tom Brady midway through last year – costing me Tyreek Hill in the process – and for that I have much regret. Nevertheless, Danny Dimes looks like he has true stud potential, and as someone I held onto all year in spite of not playing him very regularly, I’m pretty devoted to seeing how he plays out in his second season in the league. Josh Jacobs, from the moment I drafted him, was someone I eyeballed as a potential keeper for years to come (and someone I see has a HUGE upgrade over LeVeon Bell, who was mired on a terrible Jets team with a God-awful offensive line).

The only other serious contenders as keepers were the aforementioned Tom Brady and Le’Veon Bell. Brady is REALLY intriguing, as we all know he’s now in Tampa, with a ton of weapons, and with an offensive-minded head coach in Bruce Arians. Like many around football, I’m not totally sold on Carson Wentz. The bloom is off the rose with him, even though he played in all 16 games, had a career high in passing yards (4,039) in spite of having no great wide receiver options to throw to, and still had a very commendable 27:7 TD:INT ratio. I don’t know if the weapons situation is all that much improved, but they went after wide receiver HARD in the draft, and hopefully will see some younger guys from prior seasons step up. So, there was a serious look at Brady over Wentz, but in the end Brady is just so old, and that noodle arm looked SO feeble last year. The offense under Arians tends to feature a lot of deep downfield plays in the passing game. I could see Brady starting off the season on fire, but when I would need him the most – in the fantasy playoffs – I just don’t think he’ll have it. Besides that, Wentz is obviously still very young and should still be viable for many more years; Brady is on his very final legs and could be forced into retirement at any time.

As for Bell, I couldn’t tell you what the Jets have done to bolster their O-Line (other than pay a lot of money to George Fant to be their left tackle, a position he’d rarely been asked to play as a member of the Seahawks). I don’t know if I totally buy Bell as still having it. He was a steady fantasy player last year, but he’s getting up there as well, and if that offense continues to struggle, I don’t know if I see him having a lot of TD opportunities. I’m of the opinion that Jacobs will be a superstar, and Elliott already IS a superstar. Kind of a no-brainer there.

In coming in second place in the Consolation Bracket last season, I earned the second overall draft pick in the upcoming draft on Friday, September 4th. This presents me with a unique opportunity. The deadline for everyone to declare their keepers is this Friday, August 28th, so before next week’s column, I should know who’s available to me.

Since there isn’t a ton to write about this early in the pre-season, I’ll try to take a stab at guessing who the keepers will be for the other nine teams (with guys in parentheses being alternate options):

  1. Russell Wilson, Christian McCaffrey, Chris Godwin, Matt Ryan (Tyler Boyd)
  2. Dak Prescott, Odell Beckham Jr., Mark Ingram, Travis Kelce (Keenan Allen)
  3. Deshaun Watson, George Kittle, Derrick Henry, Aaron Jones (Cam Newton)
  4. DeAndre Hopkins, Jared Goff, A.J. Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster (Raheem Mostert)
  5. Kyler Murray, Michael Thomas, Saquon Barkley, Mike Evans (Joe Mixon)
  6. Aaron Rodgers, Nick Chubb, Dalvin Cook, Amari Cooper (Adam Thielen)
  7. Patrick Mahomes, Alvin Kamara, Davante Adams, Tyler Lockett (Zach Ertz)
  8. Tyreek Hill, Jimmy Garoppolo, Todd Gurley, Matthew Stafford (Gardner Minshew)
  9. Lamar Jackson, Kenyan Drake, Baker Mayfield, Julio Jones (Austin Ekeler, Sam Darnold)

Honestly, I’m not in love with any of these potential leftovers. I’m tempted to more or less auto-draft. I’m happy with my keepers, but I was REALLY hoping there’d be someone super exciting for me to select with my #2 overall pick. Thankfully, we have a straight draft, so I’m #2 in every round. By auto-drafting, I figure I can’t do much worse than I’ve been doing over these last dozen or so years.

I haven’t done much of any research so far this off-season, and I don’t know what I’ll end up getting to prior to the draft. My hunch is: not much. Again, being prepared hasn’t done a damn thing for me; my name sure as shit isn’t on that league trophy, I’ll tell you that much!

One idea I’ve been mulling over is using my #2 overall pick on one of the incoming rookies. I have three players in mind, two of them being the most prominent rookie quarterbacks: Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa. Gun to my head: I like Tua more than Burrow. But, he’s projected to start this season as Miami’s backup, and their BYE week isn’t until Week 11. So, either Ryan Fitzpatrick sucks and Tua’s thrown to the wolves prematurely, and without a proper BYE week to prepare, or FitzMagic continues to do his thing and we don’t see Tua until very late in the season. The point being: there’s a great chance Tua doesn’t help me much at all this year, and I’d be throwing away yet another season trying to get my shit together when it comes to the quarterback position (with a very small, but important chance that Tua is the next Mahomes and I’d be missing out on my one and only opportunity at getting in on his ground floor).

It just figures that I have this great draft pick for the first time in YEARS, and there are no real stud running backs that would change the course of my fantasy franchise for years to come. Where’s MY Saquon Barkley?!

We’ll see, though. Once the keepers are locked in place, I’ll hop back into the league site and see who Yahoo thinks I should take. It does seem kind of idiotic to have a third quarterback on my roster before even getting ONE wide receiver. At some point, I need to stop playing for the future and start playing for today.

How many times have I admonished myself the last few years by saying that very same thing?

Why 7-9 Isn’t The Worst Thing In The World

On January 16, 2008, the Miami Dolphins hired Tony Sparano.  In his first three years as head coach, the Dolphins were no worse than 7-9.  Tony Sparano was not fired in any of his first three years.  Then, in 2011, the Dolphins started out 0-7 on their way to a 6-10 finish; Tony Sparano was fired in 2011.

On January 17, 2009, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hired Raheem Morris.  In his second season – after a rocky rookie campaign – the Bucs won 10 games and narrowly missed the playoffs.  Then, in 2011, the Bucs lost their final 10 games on their way to a 4-12 finish; Raheem Morris was fired the day after New Year’s.

On January 17, 2009, the St. Louis Rams hired Steve Spagnuolo.  After going 1-15 in his rookie season, the Rams improved to 7-9 as they drafted their quarterback of the future in Sam Bradford.  Then, in 2011, after a massive amount of crippling injuries, the Rams took a huge step back and finished 2-14; Steve Spagnuolo (hired on the same day as Raheem Morris) was fired on the same day as Raheem Morris.

On December 23, 1997, the Indianapolis Colts hired Bill Polian to be their president and general manager.  The Colts reached the playoffs in 11 of Polian’s 13 seasons at the helm before 2011, winning the AFC Championship twice and the Super Bowl once.  Then, in 2011, the Colts were the worst team in football, finishing 2-14; Bill Polian has since been fired.

There are worse things than finishing 7-9 as a football team.  Hell, Dennis Erickson made his CAREER coaching 7-9 football teams!  Finishing worse than 7-9 generally gets you fired.  Finishing AT 7-9 is certainly a disappointment, but it also affords a fan base a little bit of hope for the following year.  7-9 isn’t THAT far from 9-7, and 9-7 has the distinct possibility of getting you in the Playoffs (or, at least, making your season interesting to the final week).

Of all the firings I mentioned above (and those that I didn’t, like Jack Del Rio, Todd Haley, and soon-to-be Jim Caldwell), I believe the most shocking was that of Spags for the Rams.  Most would say Polian, and to a point I would agree, but that strikes me as one of those firings where you’re just looking for some fresh blood.  It’s not necessarily a reflection of Polian’s abilities or sudden lack thereof; it’s actually more of a beautiful symmetry.  He came in with the number 1 pick, his first season was a 3-13 dud, then the Colts dominated forever, then Manning was lost for 2011, his final season was a 2-14 dud, and then he was fired (having left the team pretty much as he found it – except one Lombardi Trophy richer – with the number 1 pick going to the guy who replaces him).

Spags, on the other hand, kinda got a raw deal.  You could argue that Sparano should’ve done more with what he had (you could also argue that he was The Big Tuna’s guy, and The Big Tuna isn’t a Dolphin anymore).  You could argue that Morris was a reach, being as young and inexperienced as he was (having not even been a coordinator in the Pros before he was hired as the head coach).  Meanwhile, Spags WAS a coordinator, for a Super Bowl winning Giants team.  He was brought in to toughen up a Rams defense that was one of the worst in the league.  He was also brought in to reverse the culture of losing that had cemented itself.  He came in, went 1-15 (doing a remarkable job to even win ONE game with that horrendous team he inherited), and with the number one pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, selected Sam Bradford from Oklahoma.

This was supposed to be it.  The beginning of the big turnaround in St. Louis.  They weathered the rocky 1-15 season, they got their premium franchise quarterback, and they were doing things smartly by building through the draft.  The Rams were rewarded by improving six games in finishing 7-9 (one game at Qwest Field away from the playoffs).

And with that 7-9 finish:  hope.  Optimism.  Expectations.

What happened to the Rams in 2011 was nothing short of an absolute disaster.  Injuries at seemingly every key position.  Injuries for a team without the depth to compensate.  Remember, this 2-14 Rams team wasn’t all that different than 2009’s 1-15 team.  You can’t build Rome in a fucking day!  That 7-9 team needed just about everything to go right for them to finish 7-9; health primary among them.

Spags wasn’t fired after his first season, because that’s just idiotic.  He wasn’t fired after his 7-9 season because there was improvement on the field.  Spags WAS fired after his 2-14 season, because 2-14 is a terrible record.  I guarantee, if the Rams finished 7-9 in 2011, they would not be looking for a new head coach right now.

So, yeah, 7-9 is kinda pisspoor because it means the Seahawks aren’t in the playoffs, and it also means the Seahawks don’t have a Top 10 pick to try and get into the playoffs sooner.  But, at least the Seahawks aren’t out there trying to court Jeff Fisher, Jon Gruden, or Bill Cowher out of retirement.  At least we have a little stability at our most important positions.  The Rams can’t say that.  Hell, the Rams haven’t had stability since Mike Martz!  They’re on their fifth head coach since they fired Martz in 2005!

I’ve said it before and I will continue to say it:  your organization won’t be worth a damn if you’re constantly firing your head coaches and general managers every 2 years.  Take it from the Mariners if you don’t believe me.