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Praise For Mike Macdonald & The New Seahawks Coaching Staff

NFL coaches, media and draft prospects rave about the Seahawks new coaching staff, led by head coach Mike Macdonald.


The Seahawks hired Mike Macdonald last month, making him the youngest head coach in the NFL at 36 years old, and since then Macdonald and general manager John Schneider have gone about building a coaching staff with 23 assistants, including offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb, defensive coordinator Aden Durde and special teams coordinator Jay Harbaugh.

Ever since the Macdonald hire was made, and more recently with his coaching staff coming together, there has been a lot of positive buzz around what the Seahawks have done this offseason, and that was the case this week in Indianapolis during the NFL Scouting Combine, where coaches, executives, draft prospects and members of the media with ties to the coaching staff were offering up rave reviews about Macdonald and company.

With that in mind, asked around at the combine to see what people thought about the hiring of Macdonald and the rest of the coaching staff. 

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, who gave Macdonald his first NFL job in 2014, and was his boss for nine of the past 10 seasons, said, "I think Mike will do great. Mike's great. A couple years ago, everybody was like, 'Why Mike Macdonald?' Now I can go, 'Well, that's why. You saw it.' He's a great guy, he's a great coach, he's very diligent. Yes, he's smart, he's thoughtful, but he's fundamentally grounded and he's very diligent. Every single day, all he thinks about is ways to help the guys be as good as they can be, or attack the offense that he's going against. I do think he'll expand that being a head coach, he'll take those qualities and apply them to being a head coach and do a great job."


While it was Harbaugh that gave Macdonald his first NFL job, he wasn't the only person in a leadership role who considered him for a job. As general manager Eric Decosta pointed out, Macdonald interviewed for an internship in player personnel, but didn't get the gig.

"He'll do great," Decosta said. "People may not know this, we interviewed Mike in scouting as a player personnel assistant. He didn't get the job, but (he's) a very, very thoughtful, very smart guy. We brought him back on the coaching staff. Very innovative, organized, he's a motivator, he's a great person, respectful, players love him, coaches love him. He's a home-run hire by the Seahawks."


New Washington Commander head coach Dan Quinn not only has ties with the Seahawks, having been the defensive coordinator for back-to-back Super Bowl teams, but also with the team's new defensive coordinator, Aden Durde. When he was the head coach in Atlanta, Quinn gave Durde his first job in the NFL through the Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowship program, then the two also later worked together in Dallas when Quinn was the defensive coordinator and Durde was the defensive line coach.

"I'm super proud of the man," Quinn said. "AD started with us through the fellowship program in Atlanta, then was hired on as an assistant from there. So seeing the last seven years together, seeing personal growth at these rates that were just remarkable to see—one of his superpowers is building a connection between people. He's a master teacher and a master connecter of people. I thought going (to Dallas) I'd help mentor on the D-line; he didn't need my help on that. He was ready to go. I'm super proud of him, he's going to do great things up in Seattle. His connection his ability to teach is really one of the things that sets him apart, and they're very fortunate to have him."

On the media side of things, few people blend football expertise with a love of the Seahawks like ESPN's Mina Kimes, and as someone who was banging the drum for Macdonald long before the Seahawks made that hire, Kimes is excited to see what Macdonald can do with the Seahawks, and with the defense in particular.

"I don't know who coined this, but they called him the Shanahandler, which is so dorky, but is what I like," Kimes said. "Obviously in recent years, the Seahawks defense has not had a ton of success against that tree off offenses, unfortunately in their own division, so to see the success he had in Baltimore against those types of offenses in particular is really intriguing. Now, it will take a second to achieve, I think, similar levels of success; there's some holes on the roster that need to be filled. But just the creativity—the Baltimore Ravens defense was a joy to watch on tape this year, I looked forward to it every Monday. So I'm excited to watch the Seahawks defense and see them do similar things."

Kimes also had good things to say about the coaching staff Macdonald is assembling: "Really cool. It's a really cool staff. That's what I love, it's not just, 'Oh, he's bringing in his guys or retreads or whatever,' it's a nice mix of experiences with Leslie Frazier coming in, and then some names you've heard of, some new names, coaches from all levels. I'm a Huskies fan, so obviously I was very excited about the Ryan Grubb hire just because of the creativity you saw with Washington's offense. I'm excited to see how that translates to the NFL and what sort of chances he makes with the personnel that they have, but I was really intrigued by a lot of the names."


Like Kimes, The Ringer's Danny Kelly was a Seahawks fan before becoming a respected member of the media, and he too is fired up to see what Macdonald can do with Seattle's defense. 

"I loved the hire," Kelly said. "What we know of him, he seems very smart. The first thing that comes to my mind is—I think the term he's been using is, 'The illusion of complexity,' which I really like. You never know where pressure is coming from, it's very confusing for the offense, for the quarterback. You can mix things up, you can get role players get involved in ways that maybe haven't seen before, as blitzers, as guys that drop. I'm really excited to see what they do with the current defenders that the Seahawks have, if they can get more out of that they have right now, if the scheme change will be a boon for a lot of these guys. Just the way that he talks about game planning specific to different opponents is something that really stands out, so that's the main thing. It's super, super exciting so far."

When it comes to the assistant coaches Macdonald has added, Kelly said, "It seems like a lot of young guys, lot of guys that are kind of coming up in the ranks. Obviously the offensive coordinator, Ryan Grubb, is a super exciting hire. What I've seen so far, the way he uses the screen game, the way they use motion, the way they like to go deep, I can't wait to see how that all fits in with the Seahawks. The way that they use bunch formations and scheme guys up to get them open and make it easier for the quarterback, there's just a lot of stuff that's really interesting about his scheme that I'm super excited to see how they implement that and get all the skill players involved."

There was also plenty of praise from prospects at the combine who had worked with Macdonald during his one season as defensive coordinator at Michigan in 2021 or with Grubb, who was the offensive coordinator at Washington the past two seasons.

Michigan defensive tackle Kris Jenkins told reporters this week that Macdonald "was very important" to the growth of Michigan's defense.

"He was the one that instilled that defensive identity that we had," Jenkins said. "He kicked it off, that defensive mindset that we had. The swarm, be disruptive, be violent, be effective, play quick, play fast, play fast as a unit. And that was the biggest game-changer was playing as a unit. And we embraced that identity and that's when we start to take the team more seriously and buy in more seriously and enjoy our brothers and our family that we have. So shout out to him. Great coach."

Said Michigan defensive end Braiden McGregor "Coach Mac, he brought the energy. He was a coach who came in and brought like a whole different swagger from what we had before. Coach Brown, he ran a little bit of a different, more college-style defense and coach Macdonald came in and brought like an NFL-style. So he prepared us the best way possible to play the games. So I think seeing him as a head coach now, I'm so excited for him."

Junior Colson, considered one of the top linebackers in this year's draft, was a freshman during Macdonald's one season at Michigan and said Macdonald helped mold him into the player he is today.

"When I came to Michigan, I was a blank slate," said Colson. "So him being able to mold me into the player I am, trusting me with the defense as a freshman, was phenomenal."

Meanwhile, some of Washington's top defensive players who had to practice against Grubb's offense had great things to say about Seattle's new offensive coordinator.

"I think it's going to translate great, I really do," said linebacker Edefuan Ulofoshio. "I think Ryan Grubb is probably one of the most intelligent coaches I've ever been around. I wasn't even an offensive player, but being able to pick his brain a couple of times and understanding the concepts of what they were running at practice, it's incredible man. I think the Seahawks are really lucky to have that guy."

Said edge rusher Zion Tupuola-Fetui, "I think basically he has the pieces there. I think Grubb is going to make that offense that the next step or whatever they need to do."

Seahawks head coach Mike Macdonald continues to build out his coaching staff for 2024 so check out who will be will leading the team next season. (02/28/24)

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