What is Most Realistic Scenario in Year 1 For Mike Macdonald, Seattle Seahawks?

Starting a new regime in the NFL always carries some amount of unpredictability. What's the most realistic outcome for Mike Macdonald and the Seahawks in year one?
Seattle Seahawks coach Mike Macdonald will look to find immediate success in his first year at the helm behind quarterback Geno Smith and budding star cornerback Devon Witherspoon.
Seattle Seahawks coach Mike Macdonald will look to find immediate success in his first year at the helm behind quarterback Geno Smith and budding star cornerback Devon Witherspoon. /
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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.

Earlier we explored the best and worst case scenarios in year one for Macdonald. What is the most realistic scenario for the 2024 season? We will break it down to offense, defense, and the team overall:

Offense

Whenever a new coaching staff arrives, with a new offensive system, there is an adjustment period. It takes a while for the quarterback, receivers, offensive line, running backs, tight ends, and everyone else to sync up and get on the same page with a new offense.

In this case, it certainly helps that Geno Smith is a veteran quarterback and steady leader. The Seahawks have a good blend of youngsters and proven veterans. They are equipped to endure growing pains in a new system better than most NFL teams. Ryan Grubb will have his hands full getting everyone up to speed and synced up before the season begins.

The most likely scenario is that it's a slow start for Seattle. It takes time and reps to get the offense humming. The first month or so might be slow before the offense finds its footing. And then, with the talent the Seahawks have up and down the offense, they should excel.

Last season, they ranked 17th in points and 21st in yards. It's not unreasonable to expect them to improve in this new system. If the offensive line improves, especially in year three of Charles Cross at left tackle, this offense should have a more balanced, effective attack. There were a below average offense for most of last season. Expecting them to get back to at least average, ranking in the14 to 18 range in points and yards is fair. They were held under 20 points in six games last season. That shouldn't happen again.

Defense

By default, the defense under Macdonald should be improved in 2024. It's hard to imagine a defense featuring Devon Witherspoon, Leonard Williams, Byron Murphy II, Julian Love, Uchenna Nwosu, Boye Mafe, and Jarran Reed ranking 30th in total defense again.

Seattle Seahawks coach Mike Macdonald speaking at OTAs.
Seattle Seahawks coach Mike Macdonald speaks with reporters following the team's second open OTA practice. /

The real question is- how much better than the defense be in year one with Macdonald at the helm? Witherspoon could make another jump and become one of the most electric cornerbacks in the NFL. The defensive line is the defense's strongest unit, with Williams, Murphy, Reed, and Dre'Mont Jones. Uchenna Nwosu only played six games in 2023 after a 9.5-sack performance in his first year in Seattle. A full season of him healthy will be a huge boost.

Just how high this team can go might be determined by what happens up the middle after the defensive line. The linebackers and safeties are the two weakest points on the defense and maybe even the whole team. If Macdonald, Aden Durde, and company can get Jerome Baker, Tyrel Dodson, and rookie Tyrice Knight exceeding expectations, this unit has a strong chance at being at least average overall. That would be a huge improvement.

Julian Love had an uneven 2023 that ended with a Pro Bowl invite. Rayshawn Jenkins arrives to replace the void left by Jamal Adams. Those two need to be steady on the back end.

This defense could go from 30th in total defense and 25th in scoring to average quite quickly if certain players take those next steps we expect.

Team Overall

If you're keeping track at home, according to the breakdowns of the offense and defense here, the Seahawks could be perfectly average. That appears to be the most realistic expectation. So if you're a Seahawks fan that is sick of the team going 9-8, as they have the last two seasons in a row, we got bad news for you. They very well could be headed that direction again. The easier strength of schedule than last year might yield 10-7 if a few things break right for Macdonald and crew.

However, 9-8 is not necessarily a bad thing. Bet MGM has the Seahawks' win total at 7.5. FOX Sports predicts 7-10. It would seem that the Seahawks going 9-8 again would exceed expectations nationally. Given the steady veteran at quarterback in Geno Smith, with solid depth behind him, an elite receiver trio, and an improved defense, 9-8 once again seems realistic and maybe even expected in Seattle. The real question will be, is that enough to make the playoffs?


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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.