The Seahawks made significant changes to their defensive coaching staff this offseason, promoting Clint Hurtt from defensive line coach to defensive coordinator, and adding to the coaching staff associate head coach-defense Sean Desai and defensive passing game coordinator/defensive backs coach Karl Scott.
A new-look coaching staff will also mean changes to the defensive scheme, making the development on that side of the ball one of the more intriguing storylines heading into the 2022 season.
And with that in mind, the second episode of "The Sound,' which is titled "Extended Family" goes behind the scenes with Hurtt, the defensive coaching staff and players to provide some insight into why Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and company are so excited about what this defense can do in 2022.
"Extended Family" follows the first episode, “Fresh Seattle Air," which followed Seattle's 2022 draft and rookie minicamp.
One of the first things Hurtt talked about during his first press conference as defensive coordinator was his desire to have an aggressive defense, and one scene during a defensive meeting illustrates that point.
"We're not going to coach you to be safe, 'Oh you can't do this, you can't do that,'" Hurtt told his players. "We're always going to talk to you about, 'what's your responsibility on the call, what's your alert?' but when you see that play, and you know that play is yours, go take your shot. Go take your shot. Because if you don't do it out there on the practice field, are you going to do it on Sunday? You can bet your ass you won't, because you won't have the confidence in yourself to go do it. No coach in this room—if you take that shot in practice and they complete the ball—I'm not going to rip you because they got a completion, I'm going to be pissed off if you don't take an opportunity to see if you can go get it your damn self. I'm not going to coach you to be scared."
When it came to building a new defensive staff, Carroll said, "We were really after the top of the top," and pointed to the importance of adding Desai, who spent last season as the Bears' defensive coordinator and who worked with Hurtt in Chicago for three seasons, and Scott, who was with the Vikings last season and who before that worked under Nick Saban at Alabama for three seasons.
"That was a big deal," Carroll said. "I wanted a really high level of communication between the staff, not a bunch of hot shots in their own places and we'd have to try figure out how to bring it together; we didn't have that much time. We needed to jump at it and have a really good commonality to the experience that led us to where we could really go beyond the basics. We're deep into what we're doing, and we made a tremendous amount of progress this offseason."
Talking to his team during a meeting during minicamp, Carroll also provided some insight in how the defense will look a bit different in 2022.
"We've made a couple of adaptations to our defense, because we've tried to match it to our personnel," Carroll told his team on the final day of minicamp. "We've got edge speed, we've got guys who can come flying off the freakin' edge… What we have done in the biggest way is we have found our ways to make our stuff fit our guys that we have in our secondary. The coverage stuff that we're doing, it's smart and aggressive and physical and on attack, it features the guys who know the way we want to play. You guys know it, I know you can feel it, I know you understand, this needs to come to light.
"(Opposing offenses) are not going to know what we're playing or when we're playing it. We're going to (mess) with them in every chance we can we get so that we can be as aggressive as we've ever been, and I'm fired up to cut you guys loose in that thought."
A big part of Hurtt's new job, he notes, is setting aside ego and making it a team effort to get the most out of the defense.
"If you're going to be in a leadership position, you can't have an ego," he said. "That's hard in this profession. I have a presence and guys know where I stand, but at the same time I want to have an open ear and listen."
Hurtt expanded on that point in an on-field conversation with Al Woods and Shelby Harris.
"You've got to have the ability to know where your weaknesses are," a mic'd up Hurtt told the two veteran defensive linemen. "For me, all the stuff up front, knowing that, I can do that in my sleep—adjustments, how to run fit, attacking protections, all that type of stuff. I know coverages and understand them, but is that my expertise? No it's not. Just like if you hire a defensive backs coach to be the D coordinator, his expertise isn't up front, so you know what's his most important hire? Who coaches the defensive line. So for me, that's why it was so important to get Desai and get K-Scott."
Several player interviews in "Extended Family" illustrate how well-respected Hurtt is by the players he is coaching.
"Coach Hurtt is like that father figure; you don't want to let him down," said third-year pass-rusher Darrell Taylor. "He has that father figure look to him, and that's how he coaches. When he says something or corrects you on something, you know he's coming from a good place and he's trying to get the best out of you. Then when he gets on you, you're like, 'OK, now I know I need to do everything right so he doesn't get on me like that.'"
Check out behind-the-scenes photos of the making of episode two of The Sound of the Seahawks, a new docuseries which will share unprecedented access and stories from the Virginia Mason Athletic Center throughout the season. Watch the second episode, "Extended Family," here.