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Mike Macdonald looking for ‘position flexibility’ on Seahawks defense

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By: DianeTaylor

Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

Coach Macdonald shed some light on some of the team’s recent roster moves

The decision to move on from Jamal Adams, Quandre Diggs, Jordyn Brooks, and other contributors from 2023 has left a number of lingering questions for the Seattle Seahawks defense. Head coach Mike Macdonald addressed these to some extent when he spoke to reporters yesterday at the NFL’s annual meeting (at the Ritz-Carlton, no less). He spoke to the need for “versatility” from his defense, particularly from the linebacker and safety positions. He highlighted some former players, as well as some recent additions, and explained some of the rationale that has informed their decision making this offseason.

Read on for some quotes and excerpts from Michael-Shawn Dugar’s piece in the Athletic.

“Both guys [free agent linebackers Tyrel Dodson and Jerome Baker] have played both spots,” Macdonald said. “Two guys that can run. Two intelligent football players. Tough. I thought they were both good tacklers. They’re both good players in space. Those are things we’re asking of our inside ‘backers. Those guys gotta take up a lot of ground, man. They gotta play people out of the backfield, they gotta play all the choice routes on the weakside, which is hard to do.

“I think we got the right guys for the job. They’ve gotta blitz, play man-to-man. We ask a lot out of our inside ‘backers. It’ll be a great battle, and we’ll see how it comes to life, but I think there’s some opportunity there to have a little more position flexibility than I think maybe you saw in Baltimore.”

Macdonald went on to elaborate on what to expect from the safeties now that Rayshawn Jenkins and K’Von Wallace, as well as Julian Love, who occasionally filled the “big nickel” role, as Dugar mentions in another paragraph.

“It comes down to position flexibility, so you’re not just putting guys pigeonholed into roles,” Macdonald said. “We’ll see what they do best, how they complement one another, see how they work together. But I think it gives us some flexibility to possibly be in some three-safety sets based on how it shakes out at nickel, then we’ll kind of go from there. Both guys can play man-to-man, they can play deep area of the field.”

This being said, Macdonald didn’t close the door on a reunion with Jamal Adams, though he did reaffirm what John Schneider said about his fit as a linebacker.

“You look at all of his work that he’s done over the course of his career and it’s close to the line of scrimmage,” Macdonald said.” Not all of it, but 9.5 sacks, double-digit sack type of guy, great blitzer, can play man-to-man, things like that. It’s the linebacker skill set. If that opportunity comes around, then we’ll revisit then.”

Going along with this notion, Macdonald discussed his affinity for blitzing, even though the Ravens did not have a high blitz rate while he was DC.

“If you want to play defense for us, you’ve got to be able to blitz, man,” Macdonald said. “Whatever your one-on-one is, we expect you to win. We carry a team pass rush mentality. It’s not going to be built around one guy. It’s prudent to let everyone have a chance to win on any given play. But if you’re going to blitz from off the ball, we expect you to win one-on-one. Those guys are going to hone their craft and figure out what moves work best for them, and when the matchups are in our favor, hopefully we’re going to take advantage of those things.”

Not stopping there, he went on to praise the defensive line, while also describing what he envisions from the big guys up front.

“We’re trying to build a wall up the middle,” Macdonald said. “We’re trying to stay square, we’re trying to set hard edges, make the ball (go outside), make them throw the thing outside. You don’t want to get gashed up the middle of your defense. You’ve got to have the right guys who can play right there so you can get the job done.’’

We still have a lot to find out about Mike Macdonald as a head coach, but he is at least saying a lot of the right things early on. Dugar mentions that the Seahawks have a razor thin cap margin right now, so any further big-name additions are most likely going to come via the draft (Jamal Adams notwithstanding). Whatever the result, it is certainly going to be interesting to watch this defense take shape in 2024.

Originally posted on Field Gulls