The last month has brought plenty of change to the Seahawks organization, with Pete Carroll, the winningest coach in franchise history, making the transition from coach to an advisor role, and Mike Macdonald becoming the youngest head coach in the league. Episode 17 of The Sound, "New Era," closes out the 2023 season, and introduces us to a new day and fresh start for the franchise.
The episode begins with a flashback to Seattle's dramatic 21-20 Week 18 victory over the Arizona Cardinals to climb to 9-8. Despite the win, the Seahawks would not make the playoffs. Each moment of the comeback victory is captured, in what could be the last game for several players in a Seahawks jersey. It marked the end of Carroll's 14-year tenure as Seattle's leader, reaching the playoffs 10 times and capturing the first Super Bowl championship in history. The episode may tug at the heartstrings of the 12s, as Carroll is giving a ceremonial montage combining his final speech at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center with classic moments. General manager John Schneider shifts the episode from sadness to hope, as he tearfully says farewell to Carroll at the team's presser before informing the masses of the Seahawks confidence in finding his successor.
"New Era" emphasizes the excitement around the hiring of Macdonald, who at 36 becomes the league's youngest head coach. Clips of Macdonald's arrival at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center with his family are narrated by the sounds of national media praising the hiring, following Macdonald's success with the Baltimore Ravens as defensive coordinator. After two seasons of leading Baltimore's defense to becoming Top-5 statistically across several categories, fans get a look at Macdonald's welcoming reception. Macdonald shared some inspiring words with his new staff.
"What an honor," said Macdonald. "We are super excited to be here. Just getting to know John and the rest of the folks, the reputation of this place, what drew us here was the people. That's why we're here, to bring a championship back to Seattle and the 12s. We're going to have a lot of fun, we're going to work our tails off, and it's going to be an incredible ride. We're going to be here for a long time, and we're going to win a lot of football games."
Fans get a look at Macdonald's first day on the job, quickly shifting from shaking hands with new co-workers to preparing for his first press conference with local media. Macdonald and Schneider field questions from the press before Seattle's new coach expresses why he's not looking to be Pete Carroll, but rather just be himself.
"Always admired him from afar," said Macdonald. "I have a tremendous amount of respect for him, his track record. He's probably a Hall of Fame coach. Pete has a great personality but it's his and it's authentic to who he is as a person. I think that's why the players resonate with him and why he has a great reputation, and his track record is what it is. I have a different personality. You'll get to know me, but my plan is to be myself every day. You're just going to get me. It's not a facade, there's no alternate agendas or anything like that. It's all about what's the best interest for the team, what's the best interest for the players, and how we can be successful. There's a sense of humor in there, I promise. Some people like it more than others, but it will come out. If you're trying to be somebody you're not, one, it's exhausting, and two, people see right through it."
Schneider leads Macdonald through a tour of the facility, from taking some photos at his new desk, to the indoor practice facility for the pair's first interview with team reporter Jen Mueller. Macdonald is then whisked away to sit down with Seattle Sports 710AM's Michael Bumpus and Stacy Rost for the Bump and Stacy radio show. As Macdonald makes himself familiar with the Seattle media and his new workplace, the episode heads east to the 2024 Pro Bowl in Orlando. Ravens linebacker Roquan Smith and safety Kyle Hamilton lead a group of Macdonald's former players that took time to send well wishes to their former coach.
Episode 17 gives a look into the quick change in Macdonald's life, as he now adjusts to a new environment. From in-person interviews to phone conferences as he attempts to move into his office, the fans get a look at Macdonald, as he processes the change from coordinator to head coach. The episode closes with a moment of praise for the 2023 Seahawks, as the group enjoys the Pro Bowl weekend festivities. Rookie cornerback Devon Witherspoon's playfulness and competitive spirit is on display, as he coaches girls flag football and participates in the skills challenge. Six Seahawks—Geno Smith, Nick Bellore, DK Metcalf, Devon Witherspoon, Bobby Wagner, Julian Love—made the trip to Orlando, capping off an eventful season. Through 17 episodes, fans have taken the journey from camp to the offseason. The closing of what was is now replaced by what can be, as Seattle brings in a new regime and outlook heading into 2024.
The Seahawks introduced Mike Macdonald in his first press conference as head coach on February 1, 2024 at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center.