Head coach Mike Macdonald made first appearance before Seattle media on the first day of February. He sat alongside GM John Schneider as the two joked and spoke fondly of the series of rapid events that brought them together on this new journey.
Much has been shared already about Macdonald’s opening words, but it’s this partnership with Schneider that has me particularly intrigued.
GM John Schneider on new #Seahawks coach Mike Macdonald: “This is the future right here. This is where it is going.”— Gregg Bell (@gbellseattle) February 1, 2024
Calls the 36-year-old Macdonald “special.” @thenewstribune pic.twitter.com/04RfOPM1E3
Schneider’s opening remarks included the word “exciting” more than a few times. The excitement the fans feel over this hire isn’t limited to the observers, it seems.
Besides the obvious relational equity that was built over the course of a few short days, I have two big takeaways about the future of the Seattle Seahawks based on what we saw between Schneider and Macdonald.
Best Player Available, or in this case, Head Coach
We speculated a bit that the partnership between Pete Carroll and Schneider had resulted in a mixed bag of draft results at best. Suddenly, the scouting, planning, and trigger-pulling all started to align.
Schneider’s eye for talent is unquestionably one of the best in the NFL. Still. We have the glory days from 2010-12, but he’s either been in or rumored on a high number of non-failed targets.
Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, and Russell Wilson stand out as known quarterback favorites of Schneider. He traded for Quandre Diggs, up for DK Metcalf, up for Tyler Lockett, and this year even acquired Leonard Williams who proved to be as good as advertised. I’ll even plant my flag on the talent evaluation of Jamal Adams, as evidenced by his first season. The process was awful and the injury luck was worse, but he didn’t suck at the time of the trade.
Schneider has been good at finding gems late in the draft, value in trades, and good players in the upper rounds. Again, with mixed results, but it’s impossible how much to attribute to a head coach with final say on personnel decisions.
Turning back again to coach Macdonald, it is encouraging and reinforces confidence that Schneider made what has been dubbed the consensus best hire. He won this year’s assistant coach of the year and was considered the best candidate by many, alongside Jim Harbaugh.
Even more so, that Schneider had already obtained an inkling that Macdonald - or Ben Johnson, if you believe those reports - was a worthy consideration. Multiple interviews with multiple candidates couldn’t sway Schneider away from waiting as long as necessary just to talk with Macdonald, whose one interview in Baltimore was all that was needed to get him on a plane back to Seattle to sign the papers.
This to me signals that Schneider’s eye for potential, plan of attack, and aggressiveness are about to be unleashed on his own for the first time.
Unfortunately, Seattle has slightly less draft power this coming year, but an extra third instead of a second isn’t much of a step back. Regardless, I’m ridiculously intrigued to see how the talent acquisition unfolds.
Regarding youth and newer NFL ingenuity
Hard to signal a more obvious change than going from the oldest coach to the youngest. With this move, Schneider staked his claim in the fickle ground of finding the next young innovator to stay ahead of the competition.
1) This is a phenomenal presser with Macdonald— Tyler Alsin (@TylerjAlsin) February 1, 2024
2) That he waited that long to contrast his defensive philosophy with Pete's is actually really cool
3) That he unashamedly did contrast Pete's with his philosophy is maybe cooler
John's face after the "offenses are too good to just run 3 things and say we're gonna beat ya" comment. pic.twitter.com/ZakJfEGCVo— Lee LaRiviere (@LeeLaRiviere) February 1, 2024
I don’t actually take those comments from Macdonald as a true dig. In fact, I think in real time he was trying to back it up a little bit immediately after.
Regardless, Macdonald was espousing clearly how he became so defensively successful in the NFL, and it’s among the chief reasons the Seahawks are excited to have him here.
This is an aside, and might be unrelated, but Pete Carroll’s “always compete” mantra began to feel somewhat disingenuous the past few seasons. Some rookies saw fewer play time, we brought back Bobby Wagner, did very weird things with 26-year-old Dee Eskridge, signed on for Devin Bush, and on it goes.
On the other hand, Macdonald left an impression on the team after the Baltimore Ravens dismantled Seattle this season. Schneider said many of the players asked “what was that” about the defense that held them to just three points.
That novelty, that bewilderment, was heralded as a big mark in Macdonald’s favor. The Seahawks are now back to one of the 10 youngest rosters in the NFL, the youngest coach, one of the most creative defenses.
Schneider’s made a huge reach into the future to try and keep up with Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay. I have absolutely no idea if it will work, but it’s apparent he’s up to the challenge.