The Seahawks will likely have a new Head Coach by the end of the week. As they reach the finish line, here are some things that I’m thinking…
— Both Adam Schefter and Ian Rapoport offered ‘not so fast’ counters to the suggestion that Ben Johnson to Washington was a done deal. Initially I thought this might be the reporters ‘doing a solid’ for the Commanders, who won’t have fulfilled their Rooney Rule obligations until today’s set of interviews. Then I wondered whether it was damage limitation, with the Seahawks meeting Johnson first. Were they getting the message out to avoid looking like they missed out, if he ended up in Seattle?
I now think it might be something else. Dan Viens mentioned on his podcast recently that he’d heard from a source that Johnson might not get either job. Here’s something to note. In December, Josina Anderson tweeted that Johnson’s asking price was $15m a year. Richard Flowers III, Johnson’s agent, quote tweeted Anderson with this response:
I'm told personnel around the league are discussing their awareness that there is no asking price or demand and this tweet is 100% false and irresponsible reporting, per source. https://t.co/6RMT3GaHCU
— Richmond Flowers III (@Richmond__3) December 21, 2023
It’s hard to say what the truth is. Is it beyond the realms of possibility, though, that Johnson’s agent has overplayed his hand? Is he going to the Commanders and Seahawks, asking for a salary akin to the one likely given to Jim Harbaugh in LA, and teams are scoffing at the suggestion because — as highly rated as he is — Johnson has been an offensive coordinator for two-years and has no Head Coaching experience?
That would make sense of why Schefter is pouring cold water on the Commanders talk. At the moment, they’re too far apart on salary. Maybe it’s put them off? Remember, both teams are talking to other candidates. If, say, Mike Macdonald is in the $6-8m range and Johnson is asking for something close to $15m, it’s very easy to say ‘no chance’ to Johnson’s agent. It’s also a very difficult position to climb down from as a representative without looking like a complete fool.
Maybe Anderson’s report was ‘100% false and irresponsible’ as Flowers III suggests? Or maybe, it’s an accurate portrayal as to why — as Viens suggested — Johnson might not land either gig?
— The Seahawks got on a plane to Baltimore last night, after meeting with Johnson. My hope was that they’d strike a deal with Johnson and that would be that. This didn’t happen and perhaps what I’ve just talked about is one of the reasons why. Nevertheless, I retain hope that’s the direction they go. I’m not an X’s and O’s expert and never claim to be — but I can see creativity in Detroit, constantly challenging and asking questions of opponents and I can see major production and star playmakers being featured. That’s what I want in Seattle.
Now the Seahawks move on to Macdonald and this will be intriguing. They didn’t meet with him prior to today. They might not know much about him. This is a coordinator who’s kind of burst onto the scene. As far as I’m aware, there’s not that much crossover from Seattle to Baltimore’s front office or staff, to get a lot of feedback on Macdonald. Therefore, this could be a fascinating meeting.
I can’t decide, though, whether this is proper due diligence or serious intent to appoint Macdonald. It’d be neglectful not to speak to one of the bright young candidates in this cycle. How much of the meeting though is a fact-finding mission? To actually understand who he is, what his vision is, how he’d lead, what kind of staff he can put together and whether this relatively inexperienced coach is ready to lead a team.
I think there’d be some of that with Johnson, too.
It could probably go either way. The Seahawks being blown away enough to dive head-first into the appointment. Or, as seems to have been the case with Bobby Slowik, perhaps feeling he isn’t quite ready.
It’s worth noting that Ian Rapoport said on the NFL Network today that in his previous interviews, sources claimed he stood out in a big way and was incredibly impressive. Rapoport called Macdonald ‘the defensive Sean McVay’ and he believes he is a strong contender in Seattle. The way he spoke, it made it seem as if that could be the direction the Seahawks want to go:
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 30, 2024
But until it’s a done deal, you never know.
— This is why I think Dan Quinn’s name has suddenly started doing the rounds again. On Monday, Michael Shawn-Dugar and Brady Henderson both mentioned Quinn during radio hits. Hawkblogger wrote a piece on the positives with Quinn. Are there some jungle drums behind the scenes suggesting that maybe, after all, the Seahawks return to the candidate everyone assumed would take the job?
Schefter’s suggestion that it’s no sure thing pushes back on that. But there’s at least a scenario out there where Johnson potentially prices himself out and/or doesn’t make a good impression, Macdonald isn’t viewed as a viable option either and then they go with what they know. Despite some fairly generous petitioning on local radio — it would be a tremendously underwhelming appointment. I don’t think Quinn is schematically excellent. Clearly Kyle Shanahan is an offensive mastermind and his success in San Francisco, coupled with Atlanta’s lack of success under Quinn once he took the 49ers job, suggests the real motivating factor of that Falcons Super Bowl run was the offensive leader and the MVP he produced at quarterback.
Quinn is said to be able to build a great staff but who out there, currently, fits the bill? Kellen Moore isn’t an option any more. Raheem Morris was also touted as an amazing staff builder and he went with Jimmy Lake for defensive coordinator. I kind of feel like the pool of available coaches is fairly limited and the opportunity to ‘build a great staff’ isn’t straight forward.
I’ll pass this is on and make of it what you will. Someone I trust said there’s something in this Chip Kelly as offensive coordinator talk, should Quinn get the gig. Personally I’m not a fan of that move, if true. Kelly’s offenses at Oregon relied on speed, snapping the ball quickly and keeping opponents off guard. It didn’t translate at Philadelphia and Kelly bombed in San Francisco after that. His offense was good at UCLA last season, not so good this season. This wouldn’t exactly be the brave new world of innovative football I’d hope for. But at least there’d be little chance of him being poached if he succeeds, I guess.
I also keep coming back to the fact that in the last five Super Bowls, all ten Head Coaches were offensive-minded. Do we just throw that out? How about the fact that Bill Belichick and Ron Rivera are the only two defensive coaches to make the title game since Seattle won the Super Bowl 10 years ago. Do we fight against this, think we know better, and go defense?
I do think there’s a possibility that Quinn is essentially ‘the backup option’ if for whatever reason Johnson or Macdonald aren’t the answer.
— I still think there’s a chance of a surprise. As noted yesterday, Schefter’s line about the Seahawks “pulling an upset” resonated. I think one of the other candidates they interviewed last week is still very much in the running.
They’ve travelled to meet with Johnson and Macdonald and that makes it seem like they are the two prime options. Yet that just could be needs must, given both just played at the weekend and time is of the essence with Washington competing for a similar pool of candidates.
It could be that they meet Macdonald today, go back to Seattle, consider all of the options and make a decision. That decision could be — going with someone like Mike Kafka or Ejero Eviro.
Kafka seems extremely plausible. He always has done. Jeff Simmons messages me as soon as the coaching hire search started and mentioned his name. The connection to Andy Reid and the history of developing quarterbacks will really appeal. His personality might not be electric but it’s not a million miles away from Mike McCarthy and Doug Pederson. If Seattle’s intention is to draft and develop a QB, he makes sense as an ‘upset’ candidate. And as Jeff often points out, sometimes the best Head Coaches are not the coordinators with the hot offense or defense.
He’s being touted as a potential replacement for Andy Reid when he retires. If there’s something in that thought, you can see why someone like Schneider would rate him. He had two interviews, after all, when others teams showed no interest.
It’s also possible they appoint a defensive-minded Head Coach and then try to get him out of New York to act as offensive coordinator. We’ll see. But having felt 24 hours ago that this was a two-horse race between Johnson and Macdonald — I’m not sure any more.
Either way I think we’re all ready to know now who’s replacing Carroll, after weeks of speculation and second-guessing.