The Seahawks have crossed another significant coaching hire off the list, agreeing to hire Dallas defensive-line coach Aden Durde as the defensive coordinator under new head coach Mike Macdonald.
A league source confirmed the news to the Times saying the hire is expected to happen. The deal came together a day after Durde learned he would not become the new defensive coordinator for the Cowboys, who brought back veteran Mike Zimmer to take over for Dan Quinn, who left to become the head coach of the Washington Commanders.
ESPN had reported earlier in the week that Durde had spoken with the Seahawks.
Intriguingly, the 44-year-old Durde has worked closely with Dan Quinn — a former Seahawks DC who was interviewed twice by Seattle for the head-coaching job this time and also was Seattle’s DC for the Super Bowl seasons of 2013 and 2014.
Durde got his NFL full-time NFL coaching job under Quinn with the Falcons from 2018-20 as a defensive assistant and then outside linebackers, and then moved with Quinn to Dallas in 2021 when Quinn was the DC for the Cowboys, serving all three years as defensive line coach.
Durde, a native of Middlesex, England, played linebacker in NFL Europe for six years and was also on the practice squads of the Chiefs and Panthers before moving into coaching and will become the first British-born DC in NFL history.
It’s unclear exactly what Durde’s responsibilities will be with the Seahawks as Macdonald, who was the DC for the Ravens the past two seasons and with Michigan in 2021, said during his introductory news conference last week that he intends to continue calling the defensive plays.
“Yeah, right now the plan is I’ll be calling the plays,” Macdonald said. “Now, depending on who the defensive coordinator is and when that becomes — ultimately, I’m the head coach of the football team, so I want to coach the football team. Right now, the best way that we can win in my opinion is for me to call the plays, and then when it becomes obvious that someone else is ready to go and we see it the same way, then we’ll make that change.”
That could put Durde into more of a role of helping develop and implement the gameplay during meetings and practices each week and advising on play calls on gamely.
After his playing career ended in 2007, Durde served as the defensive coordinator of the London Warriors, an American Football Club in the British American Football Association. He also served as the head of football development at NFLUK, where he helped guide the International Player Pathway program.
He joined Dallas’s coaching staff as an intern in 2014 and 2015 and was with Atlanta in 2016 as part of the NFL Diversity Coaching Fellowship in 2016 before becoming a full-time assistant with the Falcons in 2018.
Clint Hurtt had served as Seattle’s DC the past two seasons under Pete Carroll but has accepted a job as the defensive-line coach with the Eagles.
Seattle had also reportedly been interested in talking with Kansas City defensive line coach Joe Cullen. But the Seahawks could not interview him until after the Super Bowl.
Seattle’s defensive coaching staff is also expected to include Karl Scott — who was also with the Seahawks the last two years as passing game coordinator and will likely stay in a similar role — and Kirk Olivadotti as linebackers coach.
Seattle also will hire Jay Harbaugh — the son of Jim — as special teams coordinator.
And it was also confirmed that the Seahawks will hire Leslie Frazier — a former head coach of the Minnesota Vikings and defensive coordinator of the Buffalo Bills — as assistant head coach.
While Durde comes from a different defensive system than Macdonald ran with the Ravens, Macdonald also said last week that he is open to tweaking his scheme based on personnel.
“We took it a certain direction given the players we had,” he said. “I’d say it’s adaptable, but we’re always going to be aggressive on how we want to do it. People ask about our blitz rates and all that; that’s not important to me. It’s about putting yourselves in positions to win the down, affecting the quarterback, putting your guys in position to have success.”
The two together will have the task of overhauling a Seattle defense that ranked 30th in yards allowed and 25th in points allowed in 2023, continuing a downturn in the team’s defensive fortunes the last few years following gradual demise of the Legion of Boom-era units that led the NFL in fewest points allowed every year from 2012-15.
Pete Carroll changed coordinators twice in recent years to try to halt the slide — firing Kris Richard following the 2017 season and bring back Ken Norton Jr. as DC, then firing Norton following the 2021 season to promote Hurtt.
But nothing worked, and the defensive struggles the last few years probably played the biggest role in Seattle’s decision to move on from Carroll and hire a young, defensive-minded head coach in his place.
When Seattle promoted Hurtt it also made some of the biggest schematic changes of the Carroll era, using more 3-4 fronts and varying its coverage packages more often than in the glory years.
How exactly the scheme will look under Macdonald, Durde and Scott — with Frazier also likely to have a significant say given his background — but we now at least know who all will be calling the shots.