Seahawks expected to hire Ravens DC Mike McDonald as NFL's youngest coach: sources

By Dianna Russini, Mike Sando and Jeff Zrebiec

The Seattle Seahawks will hire Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Mike McDonald to succeed Pete Carroll, league sources said Wednesday.

McDonald, 36, will become the ninth head coach in franchise history and the NFL's youngest head coach, passing recently hired New England Patriots coach Jerrod Mayo, 37.

McDonald spent the past two seasons running a Ravens defense that finished the 2023 regular season first in scoring and fourth in yards allowed. Baltimore ranked eighth and 12th in those categories in 2022.

The Seahawks missed meeting with McDonald in the first eligibility window after Week 18, but were willing to wait to interview him. After the Ravens lost to the Kansas City Chiefs in Sunday's AFC Championship Game, Seattle was allowed to meet McDonald. General manager John Schneider and others flew to Baltimore for an interview on Tuesday, then brought McDonald back to Seattle for a second meeting on Wednesday.

The Seahawks had nine known candidates and reportedly conducted a second round of in-person interviews with six of them, including former Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson, who told teams they would be in Detroit on Tuesday. For another year.

McDonald has nine years of NFL coaching experience, all with the Ravens. He left the University of Georgia to coach in Baltimore in 2014 and held three different positions before moving from John Harbaugh's staff to his brother Jim Harbaugh's staff at the University of Michigan in 2021 as defensive coordinator. He spent one year with the Wolverines. Before taking the same position with the Ravens.

Although the 72-year-old Carroll said he “competed hard” to be the coach, Carroll's 14-year tenure ended after the Seahawks finished 9-8 and were out of the playoffs. Schneider was given final say in all football decisions for the first time since he was hired in 2010, and said he wanted to hire a coach who could maintain the team's culture while pushing for a championship.

A new direction for Seattle

By going with McDonald over Quinn, the Seahawks are taking away from Carroll in a bigger way than they could. After running Carroll's system (or close variations of it) for 14 seasons, it shows the team wants an entirely new approach to defense. While Quinn Carroll created the system, MacDonald is running something completely different—a plan that the enemy has yet to solve.

The Seahawks are signaling that Seattle needs a defensive reset to take on the Kyle Shanahan-led San Francisco 49ers and Sean McVay-led Los Angeles Rams in the NFC West. — Mike Santo, veteran NFL writer

What's next for the Ravens?

The Ravens probably knew this was coming. Both Seattle and Washington wanted to talk to McDonald because they knew they were waiting to hire a head coach. Still, it's a significant blow to a team that will lose in Sunday's AFC Championship game.

McDonald was a home run hire by John Harbaugh two years ago, and now Harbaugh has to go back to the drawing board. The good news is that Harbaugh has internal options. Assistant head coach/defensive line coach Anthony Weaver will be defensive coordinator in 2024, whether in Baltimore or elsewhere (he has interviewed for head coaching and defensive coordinator jobs). Defensive backs coach Denard Wilson is highly sought after by teams around the league for their starting defensive coordinator. Secondary coach and pass game coordinator Chris Hewitt is also viewed as a future defensive coordinator. — Jeff Zrebiec, Ravens senior writer

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(Photo: Todd Olszewski / Getty Images)

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