What Is Best Case Scenario In Year 1 For Mike Macdonald, Seattle Seahawks?

Starting a new regime in the NFL always carries some amount of unpredictability. What is the best case scenario in Mike Macdonald's first season with the Seahawks?
Mar 26, 2024; Orlando, FL, USA;   Seattle Seahawks head coach Mike Macdonald speaks to the media during the NFL annual league meetings at the JW Marriott. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 26, 2024; Orlando, FL, USA; Seattle Seahawks head coach Mike Macdonald speaks to the media during the NFL annual league meetings at the JW Marriott. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports / Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
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As we get closer to training camp, all NFL fans can do at the moment is just sit and wonder... and dream. Everyone is 0-0. Nobody is eliminated from Super Bowl contention as of June. Dare to dream.

However, whenever a team changes head coaches, especially after a long, successful run such as the one Pete Carroll had with the Seattle Seahawks, there is a natural angst among the fanbase. There is a certain level of unpredictability when a new regime arrives. Especially if that is that particular head coach's first ever stop as the head man.

How high could the Seahawks go if everything breaks right in Mike Macdonald's first year at the helm? It's not as if Macdonald is taking over a tanking team devoid of talent, as some NFL coaches do. What is the best case scenario for Seattle in 2024?

Let's get one thing out of the way right off the bat. While this is "best case scenario," there needs to be a hint of realistic expectations sprinkled into this hype soup. Winning the Super Bowl is the obvious grand prize in the NFL. It's hard to imagine this Seahawks team climbing over the Chiefs, 49ers, Lions, or Ravens right from the jump. It's possible for this team to experience a "best case scenario" with Macdonald in his first year as a head coach in the NFL without it ending with a Super Bowl parade.

Let's focus on the offense, defense, and overall team success separately.

Offense


Ryan Grubb makes the commute across Montlake, down the I-5 to Lumen Field from the University of Washington. In his wake is one of the most explosive offenses in college football in recent memory with Michael Penix Jr. and the Huskies. The best case scenario is Grubb turns the Seahawks from a middling unit into a juggernaut in similar fashion.

Geno Smith's skill set seems to fit well with what Grubb did at UW. Penix was the perfect fit at Montlake, distributing the ball to elite playmakers all over the field with pinpoint accuracy and poise. Smith possesses similar traits, especially with an accurate deep ball. Among quarterbacks with at least 200 pass attempts last season, per Pro Football Focus, Smith was the best quarterback in the NFL in "Big Time Throw" rate on passes 20-plus yards downfield.

In this scenario, Smith leads a high-flying attack. He distributes the ball like an elite point guard to the uber-talented receiving trio of DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba for heaps of yards and touchdowns. All while the offensive line experiences a surge in production under new offensive line coach Scott Huff. That allows the run game to compliment Grubb's aggressive attack with a resurgent season from Ken Walker III, resulting in Seattle being a top 10 scoring offense.

Defense

The minute it was announced that Macdonald was to be the franchise's next head coach, Seattle's defense becoming a strength became an expectation. That would be a change compared to the last several years, as the Seahawks have not even had an average scoring defense in three years, with no top 10 defense since 2016, when Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, and Earl Thomas all were still preying on opposing offenses in Seahawks blue and green.

With the first round pick of Byron Murphy II coupled with the re-signing of Pro Bowler Leonard Williams along the defensive line, that becomes perhaps Seattle's most talented unit outside of receiver. The Seahawks have long coveted a disruptive, versatile defensive line. In this best case scenario, Williams plays up to his contract, Murphy meets his first round pedigree, and Jarran Reed continues his impressive second act in Seattle as they become a dominant force. They challenge the 49ers and usurp the Rams, now devoid of Aaron Donald, as the best defensive line in the division and maybe the NFC.

The linebackers need to be a surprising group led by Jerome Baker and Tyrel Dodson, or maybe even rookie Tyrice Knight, though they wouldn't have to be a strength necessarily with the line dominating up front.

Where there could be some real headway is in the secondary. It's not hard to imagine Macdonald lying in bed at night smiling about all the ways he could deploy his new favorite weapon: Devon Witherspoon. The former No. 5 overall pick is a star in the making and the new partnership with Macdonald could unlock his true stardom.

Riq Woolen also stands to benefit from Macdonald's tutelage. If Witherspoon makes another leap in his second year, with Woolen having a bounce-back year, the best cornerback duo in the NFL could reside in Seattle.

In this scenario, the Seahawks ride a disruptive defensive line and versatile, play-making secondary to a top 10 scoring defense.


Overall

With all that into consideration, how far can the Seahawks go with a revamped offense and a strong defense? To say they would win the NFC West might be too much. The 49ers look to be very good again. The Seahawks going 11-6 might not even cut it.

Even still, in this scenario, Seattle goes 11-6 and cruises to the playoffs via the Wild Card. They then do something they have not done since the 2019 season and only once since 2016- by winning a playoff game. This team, with all the talent and a rejuvenated coaching staff, is good enough to get into the playoffs and even win a playoff game, if things break right.

The Seahawks might meet their match in a possible NFC Divisional Round matchup, be it against the 49ers or Lions on the road. This is still a somewhat realistic "best case scenario." It's very hard to win the Super Bowl. Only one team wins it every year and 31 other teams leave wondering what could've been.

Either way, Seahawks fans likely would be ecstatic and satisfied with a run to the playoffs and their first playoff win in five years in Mike Macdonald's first season and it would set the tone for a bright, bright future that could include a Lombardi Trophy.



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Nick Lee

NICK LEE

Nick Lee grew in San Diego, California and graduated from Brigham Young University-Idaho in 2017. He married a Washington native and moved to the Pacific Northwest after 2014. He began his writing career for Bolt Beat on Fansided in 2015 while also coaching high school football locally in Olympia, Washington. A husband and father of a two-year old son, he writes for East Village Times covering the San Diego Padres as well as Vanquish the Foe of SB Nation, covering the BYU Cougars. He joined Seahawk Maven in August 2018 and is a cohost of the Locked on Seahawks podcast.