What Is Worst 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 worst case scenario in Mike Macdonald's first season with the Seahawks?
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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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.

Last week, we explored what the best case scenario might be for Macdonald in year one.

What happens if things go awry for Macdonald in his maiden voyage as head coach? There are plenty of examples of coaches needing a year to find their footing, with the first season not going according to plan. There will be growing pains. It's just a matter of how quickly the staff can learn from them and overcome.

What if things don't go according to plan, testing the fanbase's collective patience?

We will break it down to offense, defense, and the team overall.

Offense

Ryan Grubb is making a large leap from offensive coordinator of a college team to the same position in the NFL. He coached at three different FBS programs over 10 seasons but has never coached in the pro ranks. There is a significant leap in talent level and speed of the game from the games at Husky Stadium to Lumen Field.

In this scenario, Grubb seems overwhelmed in his first season as a coordinator of a professional offense. NFL defenses adjust quicker to his scheme than he is ready for. Geno Smith doesn't click with his receivers, as all players try to learn Grubb's system. The offensive line once again struggles, with Charles Cross not showing the progress everyone hopes and expects from him in his third season at left tackle.

The middle of the offensive line struggles and the run game suffers. Ken Walker III and company are unable to overcome poor offensive line play, leading to an anemic run game. This puts the offense in 3rd and long too many times to be successful.

The offense ranked 17th in scoring and 21st in total yards last season. In this scenario, they rank worse than 20th in both, with the continued offensive line struggles and everyone trying to learn a new system.

Defense

It's tough to see a scenario where the defense does not at least marginally improve from being the 25th ranked scoring defense and 30th ranked total defense. By default, those rankings should naturally improve.

It's hard to imagine Witherspoon dropping off significantly after such an electric rookie year. The only thing that would stop him is injuries. Let's not explore that bad juju here. Even if Witherspoon is just as good as his rookie season, the defense has plenty of work to do around him to improve.

In this "worst case scenario," the defensive line fails to live up to its billing as perhaps the team's most talented unit. Leonard Williams takes a step back after a big payday. Jarran Reed runs out of juice after a resurgent 2023. Byron Murphy II's learning curve is steeper than expected.

The linebacker spot is the most volatile, as Seattle must replace future Hall of Famer Bobby Wagner and former first round pick Jordyn Brooks. They have done so with a handful of unproven players, mixed with veterans yet to truly break out, and a rookie in Tyrice Knight. That position group could end up being something of an Achilles' heel for this team. That could lead to poor run defense and subpar coverage in underneath routes, creating easy targets for opposing quarterbacks in the middle of the field.

The secondary overall gets picked apart, as it did last year. Riq Woolen makes his Pro Bowl rookie season look more like the anomaly than last year's struggles.

Simply, a bad scenario for the defense is little-to-no improvement instead of getting worse.

Overall

On paper, the Seahawks do not have a terribly difficult schedule. That doesn't mean it can't be turned sideways if some of their opponents make larger improvements than expected. If the offense struggles to mesh with a new system, leading to a disjointed passing game and dull run game, along with an unimproved defense, things could unwravel.

It's hard to imagine, even at the team's worst, them totally bottoming out to 3-14 or worse to contend for the No. 1 overall pick in 2025. Even an injury to Geno Smith likely doesn't put Seattle there, given they have Sam Howell waiting in the wings.

Given the overall talent and depth Seattle has around the roster, even their worst case scenario shouldn't feature them "earning" a top two pick in the draft. However, if a few things do go wrong, a 5-12 record certainly is in play.


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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.