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Seattle Seahawks

Seahawks’ Mike Macdonald says Ryan Grubb was ‘on my radar’ before hire

Seattle Seahawks head coach Mike MacDonald talks with the media while serving as Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator.  (Tribune News Service)
By Bob Condotta Seattle Times

SEATTLE – There is still much work for the Seahawks in putting together coach Mike Macdonald’s first staff.

But much of the heavy lifting was completed with Friday’s hirings of offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb and defensive coordinator Aden Durde.

Macdonald discussed those hirings and more Monday when he appeared on “Brock and Salk” on Seattle Sports 710 AM.

Here are some highlights:

Grubb ‘a winner everywhere he’s been’

Seattle finalized its hiring of Grubb, the University of Washington’s offensive coordinator the past two years under coach Kalen DeBoer, on Friday.

Macdonald said Grubb had “been on my radar, watching his team perform throughout the season and obviously thinking that a situation like this might come about.

“And then getting to know him throughout the process and the type of guy he is – you know, he’s been a winner everywhere he’s been. I think it speaks to his football character and things that him and Kalen have done over time; everywhere they’ve gone they’ve really rebuilt the culture where they’ve been, and they’ve won immediately. Having that type of growth mindset, being able to adapt to the players that he has in his scheme, and I just respect what his offense looks like.”

Seattle is also hiring Scott Huff, who had worked alongside Grubb at UW the past two seasons and had been the offensive-line coach for the Huskies since 2017 after previously working at Boise State.

Grubb coordinated an offense that ranked second in the nation in 2023 in passing yards at 343.7 per game.

But Macdonald said what UW did in 2023 won’t necessarily be the template for the Seahawks.

Macdonald called UW’s offense under Grubb “reflective of the roster that they had in Washington, and [to] accentuate the guys they had and the talent they had. So that speaks to adaptability and flexibility in how he calls it.”

Macdonald called Grubb “an O-line guy at heart” and indicated that Seattle’s offense will look a little more balanced.

“I want to build the offense through the same lens of how we built the defense [at Baltimore], and we’re going to build it here,” said Macdonald, previously the Ravens’ defensive coordinator. “So we have to be really, really good at the core philosophies, core fundamentals, core concepts and want to be able to apply those things on a game-to-game basis based on who we are playing so we don’t want to reinvent our offense every week.

“So we have to have a core identity. So what is that? We are going to be a physical unit, we are going to run the football, we want to have the answers for the quarterback, we want to keep it consistent for him so he can play fast and play decisive and get the ball to our playmakers.”

Durde hit interview out of the park

The hires of Grubb and Huff were regarded as particularly important because Macdonald has said he plans to call the defensive plays.

But getting Durde on board as the highest-ranking defensive assistant isn’t without importance. Durde has spent the past six years working under former Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, which means he has a lot of background in the defense Quinn and Pete Carroll ran in the Seahawks’ Legion of Boom era and can add that expertise to Macdonald’s schemes. He was the defensive-line coach with the Cowboys the past three years when Quinn was the defensive coordinator.

Macdonald said he didn’t know Durde well before the hiring process.

“I think it speaks to the process that we came in with, the mentality we had about trying to find the best people with the personality and the mindset that we’re looking for and the track record,” Macdonald said.

“And Aden came in highly, highly recommended and got on our interview list and knocked it out of the park when we first sat down, and I’m just listening to him talk, (and) how he sees the game was very similar to how I saw it in terms of what you needed to do to be able to defend offenses these days, and he had some really interesting perspective. So we felt like, ‘Shoot, we’ve gotta get this guy here in person,’ brought him in, did a great job, and it just kind of took off from there.”

Frazier a ‘great resource’

Another key hire is assistant head coach Leslie Frazier. He was the Vikings’ head coach from 2010-13, the Bills’ defensive coordinatorfrom 2017-22 and a cornerback with the Chicago Bears’ famed 1985 Super Bowl-winning team. He also worked with Macdonald as the Ravens’ secondary coach in 2016, when the two began building their relationship.

It’s worth noting that Seattle will have a rookie coach in Macdonald and two first-time coordinators in Grubb and Durde (and Grubb has not coached in the NFL). So bringing in Frazier – who had head-coaching interviews with the Raiders and Chargers in this cycle – has been viewed as critical.

“I’ve had a relationship with Les for a long time,” Macdonald said. “And obviously he’s got an incredible track record in the NFL, being a head coach, high-powered defenses, being on the Bears’ ’85 team. Just so much wealth of knowledge. So I have so much respect for him, both in what he knows football-wise and also just his character.

“And so he’s going to be a massive resource for us and me personally, navigating it being a first-time head coach, he’s kind of been through the wars, he can see around the corners, and he’s been he’s been a great help so far. But we’re working on this thing is a great partnership between him and I, and I just really respect Les, and I’m just I’m really happy that he decided to join us.”

Some decisions coming soon

Seattle must fill out its coaching staff, and the focus also starts to shift some to the roster. As has been widely noted, if quarterback Geno Smith is on the roster Friday his $12.7 million base salary for 2024 becomes guaranteed. That has led to the notion that if he has not been cut by then, he likely would be the Seahawks’ QB in 2024.

Macdonald was not asked directly about Smith but was asked a general question about how much turnover he expects on the roster.

“I don’t know if I can answer that,” Macdonald said. “That’s something (Seahawks general manager) John (Schneider) and I, we’re working through. And I know there are some decisions we have to make here pretty soon. But I’m not sure. I’m not going in with the mentality of, ‘Hey let’s flip this whole thing over.’ I don’t think that’s the mentality. It’s more of an open mind, what’s best for the team. Obviously, John is handling the personnel side, but we tag-team throughout that whole process.”

Macdonald said he had been in touch with some players and mentioned Smith and backup quarterback Drew Lock. Lock can be an unrestricted free agent when the new league year begins March 13, but teams can re-sign their pending free agents at any time. Macdonald’s mention of Lock is interesting in that regard.