'Dialed In On Details': Seattle Seahawks Impressed By New Coach Mike Macdonald

The Seattle Seahawks hired Mike Macdonald to replace legendary head coach Pete Carroll and early indications suggest players are buying in.
Seattle Seahawks coach Mike Macdonald speaks with reporters following the team's second open OTA practice.
Seattle Seahawks coach Mike Macdonald speaks with reporters following the team's second open OTA practice. /
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It's never easy to move on from a head coach. Sure, the decision might be easy because things might be going poorly. However, the process of replacing the head coach and numerous assistants on the staff is the difficult part.

In the case of the Seattle Seahawks, the organization decided to move on from long-time head coach Pete Carroll after 14 years at the helm. It was somewhat of a surprise, but the Seahawks had taken a step back in the previous three years, making the playoffs just once in that span. They moved intently and hired Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald to take over for Carroll, hoping to build off the past decade-plus of success.

The hire was widely praised because Macdonald had become a very hot coaching candidate after two years calling the Ravens defense. He had left the franchise after the 2020 season to become the defensive coordinator for the Michigan Wolverines and spent one season there before returning to the team and kept that momentum going by engineering the NFL's top scoring defense last season.

Coming to Seattle left a lot of questions about the defense since Carroll and Macdonald run very different styles schematically. That hasn't been much of an issue concerning installation as Macdonald canceled the final day of minicamp, however.

The most important element of a new head coach finding success early boils down to how well players respond to a new voice and to this point, impressions have been extremely positive, including recent praise delivered by rising star cornerback Devon Witherspoon, who went as far as calling Macdonald a nerd.

“He’s cool, man. Coach is different, though. He’s a brain guy. He’s very smart and intellectual. So the way he builds a defense is not natural or normal around the league. That’s what makes him different. … His mind works different, for real. … The way he structures his defense, you would never know what he’s gonna run. One thing may look like something and it’s completely not.”

Seahawks CB Devon Witherspoon

The interesting thing about Witherspoon's comments was calling Macdonald a "brain guy." His intelligence is a major theme in how his players view him. Edge rusher Boye Mafe had similar sentiments focusing on how detail-oriented his new coach is.

“I can tell how much he’s really dialed in on his details. He’s a very detail-oriented person. And so for us, it’s one of those things where you have to match that energy and make sure you know what he wants and what his vision is for the team – what he wants it to look – and just doing our best ability to applicate that.”

Seahawks EDGE Boye Mafe

Paired off with the itelligence that Macdonald has is the connection he's built with his players. Interpersonal relationships are vital when trying to establish and develop a culture, especially following a legend such as Carroll. Allowing your players to have your ear when they need it is pivotal. Star receiver DK Metcalf lauded Macdonald for just that during minicamp earlier this month.

“I just like the way he’s open. He loves communication, open communication, talks to each player. And he’s bringing his own style to Seattle, and that’s what I like. He’s not trying to copy anything that anybody’s done in the past. He’s just bringing Mike Macdonald to the Seattle Seahawks.”

Seahawks WR D.K. Metcalf

Tying it all together is Leonard Williams, who has seen both traits in droves already while greatly enjoying the opportunity to work with a defensive-minded coach with a brilliant scheme.

“He’s a really smart coach. He’s really coming along with just the connection between the guys. Obviously, I think any new head coach is gonna go through some growing in that area, where you have to kind of learn your guys and learn the team. And there’s certain guys that have been here forever under one specific coach, and there’s definitely some growing pains in there. But I think the guys are really coming along (to) accept him as a new head coach, and I think he’s a great guy.”

Seahawks DE Leonard Williams

The devil's advocate in us will say that players aren't going to talk poorly about their new head coach this early. Of course, that's true. However, that doesn't mean they will go out of their way to say nice things. It matters when players say things like this at any point in the coach's tenure, most notably after wrapping up the first offseason program with a new coach as the Seahawks just did with Macdonald.

While time will tell how things play out moving forward, with players squarely in his corner and seeming to buy in so far, Macdonald looks to be on the path to being a successful head coach in efforts to get Seattle back into contention for championships in 2024 and beyond.

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Tyler Forness