The Seattle Seahawks have had a vacancy at defensive coordinator for less than a week but it has already felt like an eternity. So far, four big names have been linked to the open position;
- Ed Donatell: 2015-2018 Chicago Bears DB Coach, 2019-present Denver Broncos Defensive Coordinator. Currently the reported frontrunner, according to Dan Graziano of ESPN.
- Sean Desai: Quality control coach from 2013-2018 for the Chicago Bears, safeties coach 2019-2020, Defensive Coordinator 2021.
- Joe Whitt, Jr.: CB coach for the Green Bay Packers from 2009-2017, then Passing Game Coordinator in 2018. Secondary coach and Passing Game Coordinator for the Cleveland Browns in 2019, same positions with the Atlanta Falcons in 2020 and the Dallas Cowboys in 2021.
- Clint Hurtt: Defensive line Coach for the Chicago Bears in 2014, OLB coach from 2015-2016, Assistant Head Coach and D-line coach for the Seahawks since 2017.
There seems to be a common thread throughout; with the exception of Clint Hurtt, each of the other three has a history as a DB/Secondary position coach. And even more notably — with the exception of Joe Whitt, Jr. — Hurtt, Desai, and Donatell all previously worked together on the Chicago Bears’ coaching staff in 2015 and 2016. In case you forgot (because I did), those Windy City squads were 27th and 24th in weighted DVOA respectively, according to Football Outsiders. In addition to this, they allowed nearly 25 points per game in this span and were just generally not good. Of course, many factors contributed to this, such as copious injuries and copious John Fox, but still, nobody wants to look favorably on stats like these:
The inverted pyramid of woe; three of the Seattle Seahawks' four DC candidates all coached together with the Chicago Bears in 2015 and 2016. They were 9-23 and were among the league worst in a number of defensive metrics. Many factors obviously, but this still doesn't look good. pic.twitter.com/FamhClALWM— Stan 'the boy' Taylor (@GoodGuyAtSports) January 23, 2022
*Side note, I just realized that I left the “rank” column active in all of these, which is only relevant in the Points Per Drive metric, where the Bears ranked 24th and 26th. They did not rank 1st in any of the other categories, in spite of what the above charts may indicate.
No, I do not think that these stats paint a complete portrait of these men as coaches and potential coordinators for the Seahawks. But I do think that after looking at their history, I am even more inclined to hope that the team has a long and fruitful interview process with Joe Whitt, Jr., who is the only one of these coaches who was in the playoffs this season. In addition, even though the ‘Boys one-and-done appearance was a huge disappointment, they did lose to the team that is now going to be playing in the NFC Championship and only surrendered 23 points. Getting back to the regular season, Whitt also did his part in leading the Dallas Cowboys defense to the number one spot in weighted DVOA and saw the team collect an impressive 26 interceptions on the season (best in the league by far).
Of course, as we saw in the Shane Waldron hire, position coaches can often struggle in transitioning to a higher level of responsibility after having their deficiencies and inexperience masked by working with a talented and experienced head coaches or coordinators. However, if nothing else, at least Joe Whitt, Jr. can say that he did not, in fact, coach for the 2015-2016 Chicago Bears. And that is worth something. I will be doing some further digging into Joe’s history with the Green Bay Packers and potential future given the uncertainty around Dan Quinn, so stay tuned for Joe Whitt Jr. deep dive (assuming that the team does not announce a hire before I get around to it).