Dear Seattle Seahawks Fan,
I’m not going to pretend that I have any great knowledge or insight into how good of a defensive coordinator Clint Hurtt is going to be for the Seahawks. I’m not going to promise you a rose garden resurrection of the Legion Of Boom defense, but I’m not going to slam this move either, and label Hurtt as another Pete Carroll “yes man.”
Truthfully, as I routinely listen to Dave Wyman on ESPN 710 on many of my afternoon commutes (and others that closely cover the team), everything that I sense about Hurtt is that he is a strong voice who Carroll has likely been grooming as an eventual head coach, he’s on the extreme end of being detail oriented, and players respect this dude; he has their attention. That’s a lot to like here, especially if the goal is for this defense to stop the slop play and get back to getting after quarterbacks.
Given how he molded a pure run stuffing defensive tackle in Jarran Reed into a productive interior pass rusher, developed un-drafted Poona Ford into an impactful player, turned geriatric Al Woods into a run stuffing force of nature last year, and the fact that Frank Clark enjoyed his best seasons under his tutelage, I’m buying that Hurtt’s detailed orientations. I think he’s gotten the most of what he’s been dealt in Seattle, and even the most pessimistic Seahawk fans will have a hard time arguing against that.
And if you are doubting this move, I get it. There’s a growing amount of Seahawk fans who are absolutely done with Pete Carroll, and there’s voices on Seahawk blogs much more established than mine who have been begging Jody Allen to fire him. They’re dug into their positions, and I suspect anything being written about from these sorts will be that Hurtt is simply another Pete Carroll yes man.
I’m just not so sure about that.
Wyman opined on his radio show last Friday that he felt Carroll stepped away from his usual involvement over his defense over the last few years, and the narrative that he’s been the “real defensive coordinator” during that time is inaccurate. I’m sure anti Carroll folk will state that since Wyman works for 710, he’s essentially a Seahawk employee and is covering for Carroll, but I don’t think Wyman is likely that type of guy, personally.
I suspect Wyman is more in the tell it like it is camp, and it’s been interesting to hear him say things about the defense this last year like “I watch them in coverage and I don’t get what the plan is” and “I know Bobby is a really good linebacker but I wish they would have him do _____ more.”
If Wyman’s a Carroll stan, I don’t think he volunteers stuff on air like this. In fact, I’ve always gotten the sense from him over the past couple years that he’s been growing as done with the Ken Norton Junior defense as I’ve been, and for those who will insist that it has really been Carroll’s defense and not Norton’s, Wyman has made the point that all the weirdly negative characteristics of this defense also showed up in Oakland when Norton was the coordinator there.
Given that, it’s tough to definitively state that Norton was Carroll’s yes man in charge. If anything, I suspect the truth of the whole dynamic between these two men lays somewhere in the weeds of Norton being a person that Carroll had tremendous respect for and valued highly as a friend, and wanted to give him the opportunity to succeed out of that place. As a small business owner, I can attest that might not be the best reasons to elevate someone, if optimum output is the goal.
So, when Wyman, an ex starting NFL middle linebacker, who’s there at every practice during training camp, watching, says Clint Hurtt has a special commanding air about him, and he’s a hyper detailed oriented guy, I’m on board with that. I’m good.
Because the truth of the matter is that, under Norton’s eyes, the Seahawk defense had become sloppy in coverage, and in tackling, and worst of all, there’s been a growing theme of lack of communication between the defenders as to what to do in coverage. For four straight years, they have increasingly become as far away from the legendary LOB as you could get.
Clint Hurtt probably knows all this, and if he is the detail oriented task master with a commanding voice that many think he is, I suspect tackling gets better, communication gets better, pass rush becomes more of a focus because his former trade is that of a DL coach, and I bet coverage gets better, too.
Enter Ed Donatell and possibly even Sean Desai.
The fact that Carroll is bringing in long time NFL defensive coordinator and defensive back guru Ed Donatell in a senior advisory role, that actually tells me that Pete Carroll isn’t going to let Hurtt hang out to dry figuring out how to be a coordinator for the first time in his career. Carroll’s going to surround Hurtt with the best voices he can. I don’t think he did this for Norton, and it feels like Carroll’s not going to make that mistake again.
The fact that Seattle is still pursuing former Bears DC Sean Desai, presumably to become the new passing game coordinator, tells me that Carroll is hyper determined to make his defense the strength of this team again, as well as he should. In my opinion, I feel Carroll has drifted too far away from his DNA as a coach in order to appease a quarterback determined to cook more.
The result of this has been a team caught in a weird in-between. They aren’t the LOB, but they aren’t exactly anything the resembles something out of the Andy Reid coaching tree either.
Therefore, I say, as long as Pete Carroll is sticking as head coach, the Seahawks might as well embrace everything that Pete Carroll represents, and the first and foremost thing that he represents is a great defense.
I trust elevating Clint Hurtt is the first step towards that. I might not be the quickest whip when it comes to blogging about my Seahawks, but one thing I feel very certain about is that, with this dude coordinating, pass rushers on the defensive line are going to pass rush, and not be dropping off into coverage with the weird frequency that they did under Norton. Under Hurtt, Carolos Dunlap is going at the quarterback and not dropping into the flats. I feel comfy cashing that check.
Bringing in the Donatell (and possibly Desai) suggests to me more about figuring out what to do with Jamal Adams and how to mix up coverages more than anything else. I suspect the defense built around a cover three concept will be further phased out. I think we see more quarter coverages, two deep looks, and I suspect a special role in this defense will be finally carved out for Adams. I’m here for all of that.
I have no way of knowing this, but it wouldn’t surprise me if these potential shifts in philosophy are actually Hurtt’s suggestion to Carroll, and he’s been the one lobbying for Donatell and Desai, given all their histories together under Vic Fangio in Chicago. It makes sense if the rumors are true that this opening was really Hurtt’s gig the whole time.
It’s very possible, at least in my mind, that Clint Hurtt is the one who wants to embrace more of the Fangio style of defense, and has convinced Carroll to climb on board. This could be his vision, and if that’s the case, I think that’s a further reason to celebrate the promotion of Hurtt,
At any rate, I’m on board. I’m in.
I want to see this defense a strength of the this team again. I want to see Seattle being able to consistently rush, and disrupt with four, and be able to competently cover with seven.
I hope they are hyper aggressive in free agency and the draft landing more pass rush talent from the interior and the perimeters. Go get some of those former Bronco and Bear defenders who played under Fangio. Draft a big beastly interior pass rushing nightmare of a player.
Give Russell Wilson a quality center, for once, post Max Unger, and walk it all back.
With a fifth place schedule in their favor, Seattle has every reason to go from worst to first in their division in 2022, if they can just get further back to Pete ball, and get the right players on this roster doing it, and have coaches putting them in better positions to be successful on the fields. None of this feels like rocket science to make it all work, either.
Russ might not love cooking the way he wants, but I think he would love having a much improved defense, a better solution at center, and the ability to win back his division, and get back to the playoffs after a down year. If they go further in the playoffs than in the last several attempts, he might like it even more.
The dude loves winning, and if the design is to win with Pete Carroll as the head coach, then fix that flipping defense, finally. Let Russ cook by the league’s leader in quarterback efficiency again.
It certainly can’t be any worse that staying put in that weird in-between.
I like this move. I’m ready for the Hurtt.