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Mike Macdonald Heads Into First Season With Seahawks With High Expectations

Mike Macdonald knows there’s a lot to learn as a first-time head coach, but that doesn’t mean he heads into his first season with the Seahawks without high expectations.

Mike Macdonald at the NFL owners meetings, Tuesday, March 26, 2024, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Mike Macdonald at the NFL owners meetings, Tuesday, March 26, 2024, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

ORLANDO—Replacing a head coach in the NFL is a big change, especially when that coach held the job for 14 years and helped lead the Seahawks to the most successful run in franchise history.

But while plenty has changed since Mike Macdonald was hired to replace Pete Carroll in that position, one thing that stays consistent is the team's expectation to be a contender every season. As president of football operations/general manager John Schneider often states, the goal is to have a consistent, championship-caliber team every season. Yes, some ups and downs are inevitable every season, but just as the Seahawks made the playoffs in Schneider and Carroll's first season together, and in 2022 after trading away the best quarterback in franchise history in Russell Wilson, and releasing a Hall of Fame linebacker in Bobby Wagner, the expectations remain high in 2024 with a new head coach taking over.

"Ever since Pete and I got here, we're not ever not competing," Schneider said Tuesday at the NFL Annual Meeting. "We're not like, OK, we're going to tank it or whatever. We're not. That mindset does not exist, and that's a mandate from Jody (Allen). We want to be the best."

And while Macdonald is new to the job and will inevitably go through some growing pains as a first-time head coach, he won't let that be an excuse for not having early success.

"We are going to line up every week expecting to win, and if you do that you are going to win a championship," Macdonald said. "So that's where my mentality is. We are getting ready to go play a football game even though it's three or four months out. And whoever lines up across from us, we are expecting to win that matchup. If you don't have that mentality, you are not going to get very far in this league."

Macdonald can't yet say how close the Seahawks are to that goal having not worked with his players on the field, but he's eager to start that process when offseason workouts begin next month.

"I think right now what we are focusing on is this team has to come together," he said." This team has to spend time with one another, we've got to bond, we've got to have each other's back so that when we go against adversity in December and January that we know that we have each other's backs and we're going to war with each other rather than just a bunch of independent guys out there playing ball. We have to build our team. But absolutely, the sky is the limit for this football team."

One term Macdonald has used on a few occasions when talking about his team and his philosophies as a coach is "chasing edges" and on Tuesday, he expanded a bit on that idea, and on how it can help his team hit the ground running.

"It's a mindset in everything you do, you're trying to push the envelope rather than react to everybody else," he said. "We want to set the standard in Seattle, we want people looking at us on how we do things and how efficiently we operate and how excited the people in our building are to come work for us. I think that'll spread and that's contagious, that sort of mentality."

Less than two months into the job, Macdonald is still learning, but he's also enjoying the process of going through his first offseason as a head coach, one that has included building a coaching staff, evaluating the roster with Schneider and the player personnel department, giving his input in free agency, and preparing for the upcoming NFL Draft.

"It's been an awesome experience," he said. "Again, there's no manual. You have a playbook kind of, you have a plan in place, leaning on John, leaning on (assistant head coach Leslie Frazier), other people in the building and some of our coaches. It's been an awesome team effort and you're never sure if you're doing the right thing, but you're trying your best every day and I think you look back six weeks from when we got this thing kicked off and you're proud that it's coming to life a little bit. It'll really kind of hit home in a couple weeks when the players get here and we can start really getting out of this fictitious world of football and really doing it with the guys in-person."

Schneider, too, has enjoyed the process of getting to know a new head coach for the first time since he and Carroll went through this process 14 years ago.

"It's been awesome," Schneider said. "It's so weird being down here. (Fourteen) years ago, Pete and I came down here and we were just getting to know each other. The same exact spot. And that was amazing. And now, Traci and I just feel super blessed to be able to continue this and keep doing it with somebody else. He's 36 years old and he's super mature, knows what he wants, real direct. But we're getting know each other."

The Seahawks visited the Snohomish Boys & Girls Club for a girls flag football clinic on Sunday, March 24, 2024.

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