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7 Things We Learned From New Seahawks Coordinators Aden Durde, Ryan Grubb & Jay Harbaugh

Takeaways from offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb, defensive coordinator Aden Durde and special teams coordinator Jay Harbaugh’s first press conferences with the Seahawks.

7 things to know

There aren't a lot of similarities in the backgrounds of Aden Durde, Ryan Grubb and Jay Harbaugh, who this week were named the new defensive, offensive and special teams coordinators of the Seahawks.

One new coordinator, Harbaugh, comes from impressive coaching pedigree, the grandson of college coaching legend Jack Harbaugh, son of current Chargers coach Jim Harbaugh, and nephew of Ravens coach John Harbaugh; another, Grubb, also briefly followed in his father's and grandfather's footsteps, but as a hog farmer in Iowa before he broke into coaching full-time; while another, Durde, is from London and who fell in love with American football when he happened to catch it on TV, and who now is the first British coordinator in NFL history.

But what that trio does have in common, in addition to their impressive coaching pedigree that led to them landing these jobs on Mike Macdonald's staff, is that they are all new to their role at the NFL level, as is the team's head coach. And the fact that Macdonald is a first-time head coach, while Grubb, Harbaugh and Durde are all first-time coordinators in the NFL, adds some extra excitement to what they are all building together in Seattle.

"It's exciting, right?" Durde said of all four being new in their roles. "Of course it is. That's what it's about. You get together and you communicate, and you think of ideas, and I think Mike is very good at creating a vision. I come in here and I really understand what we're trying to achieve from a defensive aspect. He's created that vision, and now it's creating that mission mindset of like, 'Let's go get it. Let's all work together to get it.' It's young vibrant people. We all communicate, we sit down and talk at breakfast and we go our separate ways and we see each other around the building. We'll get to know each other more. I don't know many people here personally, but as I go through this, I will."

Grubb, when asked if it was an opportunity or a challenge being a first-time NFL coordinator answered, "Both, and I'm excited about that. I think it is absolutely a challenge and one that I'm really looking forward to and looking at it just like that, that it is an opportunity. And I feel like every time I've been given those opportunities and challenges, that brings out the best in me."

In addition to a common goal to grow together in Seattle, here are seven things we learned from Durde, Grubb and Harbaugh's press conferences on Thursday:

1. Grubb doesn't necessarily plan to be as pass-happy in the NFL as at Washington.

The Huskies had one of college football's most productive passing offenses in each of the past two seasons with Grubb as their coordinator, but that doesn't mean he'll come to the NFL seeing the running game as an afterthought. Macdonald has mentioned the importance of the running game when talking about his thoughts on offense, and Grubb agrees, despite the gaudy numbers his offenses put up through the air in recent years.

"I think over the course of my career, we've done both certainly," Grubb said. "I think when you look at what we did, probably more specifically at UW over the last two seasons, we were accentuating the positives and there's three receivers that are probably going to get drafted this year, and so I think moving the football through the air was a logical choice and we are going to be a physical team in Seattle. And over the years, that's something that we've certainly done. When the components all matched up, we ran the ball very effectively and I look forward to it. I think that when you have an established run game, it makes calling those other plays, the auxiliary plays off of it a lot easier honestly. It's when you don't have the presence of a run game that things can get really tricky."

Grubb also sees the play-action passing game as a key aspect to the explosive plays his teams have been able to create, something that should translate well to the NFL.

"I think that play-action pass in the NFL is honestly where we got a lot of our concepts, and so when we would base some of the things that we did, it was off of the NFL model," he said. "And so I think that some of those high-read plays and flood concepts and things like that that most people run certainly translate really well to the NFL."

2. To Durde, good defense starts with fundamentals at all three levels.

While Macdonald and Durde have plenty of time to figure out the specifics of what their defense in Seattle will look like, Seattle's new coordinator has some more fundamental thoughts on what he needs to see for the Seahawks to have a good defense.

"The way I kind of look at it, and the way we kind of look and talk about it is like, looking at it in three different levels, how do we communicate and play them together at all three levels?" he said. "You watch the defense in Baltimore, they have a great way of playing defense together on all three levels together. You see that they connect and I think that's a big part of the way you play. And then, really the standard. The standard is the fabric of this building. You can feel it when you walk in and to come and add to that is really exciting. So it's like, how are we fundamentally sound? Some of the things Jay (Harbaugh) talked about, how are we fundamentally sound, how are we playing the standard that we want to play as a group, and the last thing is just attacking the ball. There's all the system stuff on top of that but, in those three prongs, if you're rolling there, that's our philosophy and how I've learned to build my kind of philosophy from my time in the league."

And a lot of the fundamentals Durde has learned comes from a coach Seahawks fans know well, current Commanders coach Dan Quinn. Durde worked with Quinn both in Atlanta and Dallas, and has taken a lot from the former Seahawks defensive coordinator.

"Obviously D.Q., Raheem (Morris), Jeff Ulbrich, those guys have had big impacts on my career," Durde said. "I worked under Jeff as an assistant, I worked under Rah (Morris) when he was a defensive coordinator, being with DQ nearly my whole professional coaching career. Those guys have really made me think about the game, made me think about how you make people play their best football. I think some of those guys, that's their superpower. How communication is key and how fundamentals are key."

3. Staying in Seattle was a "unicorn event" for Grubb. 

Having to relocate, often frequently, is the norm for college and professional coaches. Sometimes a coach moves for a promotion, other times he or his boss is let go and has no choice but to move for the next opportunity. Grubb, however, is in a rare situation in which he his moving from a college offensive coordinator position to an NFL one without leaving the Seattle area. He nearly ended up in Tuscaloosa, Alabama with Kalen DeBoer, who took the head coaching job at the University of Alabama, but instead Grubb is only moving his office across Lake Washington.

"Man, this is like the unicorn event in coaching," he said. "The fact that I got to stay right here and do it in a city, in a place that I already love and I've had two years to let it marinate as far as what John Schneider does here and the ownership with the Seahawks and just how classy an organization this is and how driven they are to success, it makes it really special. When you think about making this step, you want to do it hopefully with a program, organization that you believe in, and so to be able to do that was unbelievable.

4. Grubb is "Fired up" up about working with Geno Smith, and potentially Drew Lock.

While Grubb won't get to coach his new offense for several months, he has already had a few conversations with players in addition to watching them in past seasons, and he likes what quarterbacks Geno Smith and Drew Lock, who is set to become a free agent if he doesn't re-sign by next month, bring the position.

"We're in a dead period right now, so really that's all it is just getting to know him as people. So, no scheme or anything like that, but he's great," Grubb said when asked about Smith. "He's a competitor. He wants to be coached; he wants to be the best. It means a lot to him. And just hearing his story and his growth as a player and a person is inspiring honestly. So, I'm really fired up and looking forward to coaching him and Drew both. They're both wonderful guys and they're competitors."

Asked what he has seen watching Smith play, Grubb said. "I think he's got good presence. I've been impressed with his decision-making. I thought last year in 2022, I think he led the league in completion percentage. I think that says a lot in this league when you talk about how hard those decisions are, number one, and then how tight the windows are. To be productive at that level and be the best in the league at it, I think says a lot. I think he pushed over 65 percent last year, so it just shows that he's got the ability to be accurate and make good decisions, and ultimately you need a guy that can lead be smart, tough and dependable and make good decisions, and I think Geno (Smith) is more than capable of doing that."

5. Durde discovered American football on TV, and is well aware of the Seahawks' big following in England.

While most kids in England growing up playing what we Americans would call soccer, or perhaps rugby, Durde tuned into American football on TV and fell in love, turning his attention to that sport. That love for the sport turned into a career in coaching, one that led to him reaching this stage as the first British coordinator in NFL history.

"In England, when I was young, it was on terrestrial TV," he said. "It was on a channel that was on at a certain time on Sundays, and I just kind of liked it. It was random, there was a kid in my street that liked it. My mom bought us a football, we started playing, and then I found a team and never had an expectation to go where I've gone, but I just fell in love with the sport, and kind of ignited from there, and that's how I found it."

Being back and forth between England and the U.S., Durde has also noticed the growing number of Seahawks fans in his home country.

"I've come and gone from England, so I've been here full time from 2018," he said. "With the build of the IPP (International Player Pathway) program, I was traveling around the last 10 years. The growth of football internationally has gone slow, and then suddenly in the last 10 to 15 years, it's (skyrocketed). There's obviously those teams that have—when I got into football in the 90's, the Cowboys and the Washington Commanders, and Miami, those teams were big in Europe. Now, I feel like the Seahawks and a couple of other teams have really built a fanbase out there."

6. Jay Harbaugh and Mike Macdonald have a lot in common.

Jay Harbaugh and Mike Macdonald first started working together as 20-somethings in Baltimore who were just getting started in their careers. They also worked together at the University of Michigan, and as Harbaugh noted, they have quite a bit in common beyond just their ages.

"We probably have a little bit in common personality-wise, just in the sense that maybe not the prototypical, over-the-top loudest guy on the field," Harbaugh said. "Some coaches – you get a little bit of everything. He's a guy who's just really cerebral, and I find him very interesting when he was younger, because he's really smart, very measured in his approach, very thoughtful when he speaks. You can just tell that this guy is going places. When you pair that with the fact that he's a good guy, day-in and day-out, just hyper consistent, those are the types of people that you want to have as your friends."

7. Despite his last name, Jay Harbaugh wasn't pushed into coaching.

Considering that his father, Jim, is a longtime head coach at the pro and college level, and that his uncle, John, is the longtime head coach of the Ravens, and that his grandfather, Jack, is a legend in the college ranks, it would be easy to assume that Jay Harbaugh had no choice but to go into the family business.

Instead, Harbaugh says, he chose the profession while being given the space to choose his path.

"I'm really thankful to have not been forced to coach, or wasn't like, 'Hey you're going to coach,'" he said. "My parents gave me space to be able to explore whatever I might be into, and then I got to a certain point towards the end of high school, and as kids are going certain directions, the math guys are talking about doing engineering and guys who like English are talking about journalism. I was just kind of like, 'I like football.' Seeing my dad and my grandpa and how rich their lives were, just relationship-wise, that was something that I realized, 'Hey, I really want that.' That looks like a great way to live and was able to get a great start with Coach (Mike) Riley at Oregon State, and then Baltimore after that. It's been great, but having that space to be able to come to it on my own is something I'm very thankful for."

The Seahawks hired England native Aden Durde as their next defensive coordinator. Durde most recently was the defensive line coach for the Dallas Cowboys and had previously spent a training camp working with the Atlanta Falcons. Check out some of the best photos of Durde through the years.

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