Seahawks hiring Ravens DC Mike Macdonald as head coach

The Seattle Seahawks are hiring Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald as their ninth head coach in franchise history.

Macdonald, 36, becomes the youngest head coach in the NFL with his hiring by Seattle. He's just the second first-time head coach in Seahawks' history with Jack Patera – the team's first head coach in 1976 – being the only coach that lacked prior head coaching experience.

"What an honor. We are super excited to be here," Macdonald said Wednesday, via John Boyle of "Just getting to know John [Schneider] and the rest of the folks, the reputation of this place, what drew us here was the people. That's why we're here, to bring a championship back to Seattle and the 12s."

"We're going to have a lot of fun, we're going to work our tails off, and it's going to be an incredible ride. We're going to be here for a long time, and we're going to win a lot of football games."

Macdonald has spent nine of the last 10 years as an assistant under John Harbaugh with the Baltimore Ravens, climbing the ranks from a coaching intern all the way to the team’s defensive coordinator.

Macdonald never played football beyond high school himself. He coached high school football for Cedar Shoals High School while attending the University of Georgia. He joined Georgia’s coaching staff as a graduate assistant in 2010 and ultimately spent four years with the program before joining the Ravens in 2014.

After one year as a coaching intern, he became a full-time defensive assistant as he began his climb up the coaching ranks. After three years as Baltimore’s linebackers coach, MacDonald left for one season to become defensive coordinator at the University of Michigan under Jim Harbaugh.

When Don "Wink" Martindale left the Ravens after the 2021 season, Macdonald was brought back to Baltimore to become defensive coordinator. Under Macdonald, the Ravens were third in scoring defense in 2022 and first in scoring defense in 2023. Both teams were inside the top 10 in the league in total defense as well, finishing ninth in 2022 and sixth in 2023.

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A big plus for Macdonald was Baltimore’s success in stopping offenses from the Kyle Shanahan coaching tree. The Ravens defense delivered standout performances in slowing down Shanahan’s San Francisco 49ers (19 points, 429 yards, five turnovers), Mike McDaniel’s Miami Dolphins (19 points, 375 yards, three turnovers), and Bobby Slowik’s Houston Texans (nine points, 268 yards, one turnover). With Seattle facing the 49ers and Sean McVay’s Los Angeles Rams twice a season in the NFC West – all of which run variations of the same offensive philosophy – Macdonald’s success against those units in 2023 was appealing.

The Ravens were the first team since 1970 to lead the NFL in scoring defense, takeaways (tied with the New York Giants) and sacks in a single season. 

LANDOVER, MD - AUGUST 21: Defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald of the Baltimore Ravens looks on during the first half of the preseason game against the Washington Commanders at FedExField on August 21, 2023 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Scott Taet

Macdonald replaces Pete Carroll as the team's head coach. Carroll spent 14 seasons as head coach of the Seahawks before the team moved him into an advisory role after the season.

General manager John Schneider then began the search for Carroll's replacement, with the search taking close to three weeks. The Seahawks had not been able to interview Macdonald until after the Ravens were eliminated from the playoffs in a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship on Sunday.

"We are all here today because we underachieved in 2023. We all did. And now we're in a situation where, you know, we all need to get better," Schneider said ahead of the coaching search earlier this month. "And we understand that the 12s, the fans, the community, Jody, everybody in this building deserves better. We had high expectations for 2023. You know, we overachieved in 2022 and, quite frankly, we underachieved in 2023, and I think everybody recognizes that. But again, it's a time for all of us to look in the mirror in this organization, myself included, obviously, and improve, learn and move forward."

RENTON, WASHINGTON - JULY 29: Head coach Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks looks on during training camp at Virginia Mason Athletic Center on July 29, 2021 in Renton, Washington. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

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The Seahawks had also interviewed Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson, Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero, Las Vegas Raiders defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, New York Giants offensive coordinator Mike Kafka, Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator Frank Smith, Houston Texans offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik, and Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris during their coaching search.

Morris accepted a job as head coach of the Atlanta Falcons last week with former University of Washington head coach Jimmy Lake joining as defensive coordinator.

Quinn, Johnson, Evero, Graham and Kafka all had second interviews with the Seahawks before their decision to hire Macdonald.

Carroll is currently tied for 15h all-time for wins in the NFL with 170 overall over three head coaching stints with the Seahawks, New England Patriots and New York Jets. His tenure in Seattle resulted in a 137-69-1 record in his time with the Seahawks. He led Seattle to five NFC West titles and 10 playoff victories. Only once in his 14 years leading the Seahawks did the team lose 10 games in a single season (2021).

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Macdonald will be tasked with fixing a Seahawks defense that has plummeted in effectiveness in recent seasons. Seattle finished the 2023 season 30th in total defense (371.4 yards per game), 31st in rushing defense (138.4 yards per game), 22nd in points allowed (23.6 points per game), 30th in third down conversion rate (46.3 percent) and dead last in first downs allowed (22.4 first downs per game).

"We lost our edge, really, the edge to be great, which was really how we ran the football and how we played defense. It wasn't as good as it needed to be," Carroll said during his final press conference on January 10,

The Seahawks got to experience first hand the difficulty in moving the ball against Macdonald's defense earlier this season. Seattle played in Baltimore in early November and were completely shut down offensively.

The Seahawks managed just 151 total yards and three points, which were their lowest outputs of the season. Seattle gained just 28 yards on the ground, converted just one third down in 12 opportunities, and turned the ball over twice on a fumble and interception from quarterback Geno Smith.

"We couldn’t make any first downs and couldn’t convert on third down," Carroll said after the game. "So, it’s just a really hard, long day against a really good team. They took it to us. I’ve got to give them a lot of credit."