3 signs Seahawks will make a huge leap in 2024 under new coaching staff

Multiple encouraging signs suggest the Seahawks will leave some frustrating tendencies behind under a brand new coaching staff in 2024.
New Seahawks head coach Mike Macdonald should make a huge difference
New Seahawks head coach Mike Macdonald should make a huge difference / Steph Chambers/GettyImages
1 of 3

This offseason, the Seattle Seahawks conducted the largest team revamp over the last decade. After a mediocre 2023 season, the team parted ways with nearly the entire coaching staff, including longtime head football coach Pete Carroll. Team owner Jody Allen oversaw a complete retooling of the coaching staff and a large roster overturn as a new era dawns in Seattle: The Mike Macdonald era, along with a completely new culture.

For the past several seasons following the unprecedented success under Pete Carroll and the Legion of Boom in the early 2010s, the Seahawks have seemed complacent, being a perennially good team. Seattle has only had one losing season since 2012, which seems fantastic on paper. However, after Seattle's Super Bowl appearance in 2014, a decade ago at this point, the Seahawks have never made it past the second round of the playoffs.

As a collective fanbase, it was the consensus opinion to turn a new page on the franchise. As emotional as it was to watch Pete Carroll make his exit, it was a necessary change. The NFL is a constantly evolving game, and if you can't keep up, you can't win the games that count. While Coach Carroll and company provided consistent winning seasons and a team that carried itself with class, the team was missing a key ingredient to being successful in today's NFL - innovation.

New Seahawks head coach Mike Macdonald will provide innovative and complex defensive schemes

In 2023, the Seahawks ranked second-to-last in the league in opponent third down conversion percentage. The Seahawks' defense gave up a first down on over 46 percent of their third downs. At times, it seemed no matter how long the opponents were from the sticks on third down, they would always convert. As a defense, there is nothing more discouraging than giving up a third down after two great stops on first and second downs.

Under Mike Macdonald's leadership, the Baltimore Ravens, by contrast, had a top-10 third-down defense. His unit only gave up first downs on around 36 percent of the third downs they played. Despite having multiple great players on the Seattle defense, including one of the best young cornerback duos in the league, the Seahawks gave up 10 percent more third-down conversions than Macdonald and the Ravens.

The key difference between the two defenses isn't entirely visible on tape or even in stats such as blitz rate, as both defenses ranked around the middle of the pack in terms of sending pressure. However, the difference lies in how effective their pressure was. When Baltimore blitzed on passing downs, they only gave up 0.8 yards per pass attempt - the lowest in the NFL. In contrast, when Seattle blitzed, they gave up nearly 4 yards per pass - one of the highest in the NFL.

The key distinction between when Pete Carroll's and Mike Macdonald's blitzes was in how the defense applied pressure. When the Seahawks blitzed, it was fairly obvious pre-snap who was coming and how many were coming.

However, Macdonald's Baltimore Ravens complete opposite. Defensive backs were in the box with linebackers, edge rushers dropped back into coverage, and pressures were simulated inside. It had to have been a horrifying job for opposing offenses to prepare for this chaotic yet beautiful defensive scheme. The most frustrating part for offenses is that it was never the same look and never the same personnel; Baltimore could apply pressure with almost anyone on the defense in any coverage.