Mike Macdonald's ascension to head coach of the Seattle Seahawks might have seemed to come out of nowhere, but make no mistake, he's well-prepared to take over.
Just don't expect him to be a mirror image of the man he's replacing, Pete Carroll.
"Always admired him from afar," Macdonald said of Carroll during Macdonald's introductory press conference on Thursday. "I have a tremendous amount of respect for him, his track record. He's probably a Hall of Fame coach. Pete has a great personality but it's his and it's authentic to who he is as a person. I think that's why the players resonate with him and why he has a great reputation, and his track record is what it is.
"I have a different personality. You'll get to know me, but my plan is to be myself every day. You're just going to get me – It's not a facade, there's no alternate agendas or anything like that. It's all about what's the best interest for the team, what's the best interest for the players, and how we can be successful. There's a sense of humor in there, I promise. Some people like it more than others, but it will come out. If you're trying to be somebody you're not, one, it's exhausting, and two, people see right through it."
It's great that Macdonald isn't going to try to be another version of Carroll. In fact, after the Seahawks parted with Carroll in January, a mimic of the coach is likely not what general manager John Schneider and the rest of the club's search committee was seeking.
Authenticity, though, remains important. And for Macdonald, that will mean sticking to what got him to this job: directing the defense. Though he's now the head coach, Macdonald told reporters on Thursday he will still maintain control of all things on the defensive side of the ball.
"Right now, the plan is I'll be calling the plays," Macdonald said. "Ultimately, I'm the head coach of the football team, so I want to coach the football team. Right now, the best way that we can win, in my opinion, is for me to call the plays, and when it becomes obvious that someone else is ready to go and we see it the same way, then we will make that change."
One can't blame Macdonald for being eager to run the defense in Seattle, where young standouts like Devon Witherspoon, Boye Mafe and Tariq Woolen fill out a depth chart that might experience some turnover, but looks strong on paper. But it's also part of why Seattle hired Macdonald. After finishing 30th in total defense (including 31st against the run), Seattle needs to produce at a level that matches its talent.
Plucking the mind behind the NFL's No. 1 scoring defense in 2023 seems like a good way to start.
"Yeah, that was definitely a part of it," Macdonald said of Seattle's promising group of defenders. "We went against Seattle this year and there's a lot of great players on this team. We've a great job of drafting -- it's a young corps -- and we have a opportunity to build these guys and build a really competitive team sooner than later."
The job won't be easy, but Macdonald could be walking into a much worse situation for his first head-coaching opportunity. And after making the difficult decision to part with Carroll, Schneider couldn't be much happier with who he's secured to lead the Seahawks into a new era.
"This is the future right here," Schneider said, grinning while looking over at the 36-year-old Macdonald. "This is where it's going."