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Gregg Bell | Seattle Seahawks Writer, Tacoma Times News

Amy Lawrence Show / Amy Lawrence
The Truth Network Radio
February 1, 2024 6:13 am

Gregg Bell | Seattle Seahawks Writer, Tacoma Times News

Amy Lawrence Show / Amy Lawrence

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February 1, 2024 6:13 am

Seattle Seahawks writer Gregg Bell from the Tacoma Times News joins the show to talk about the hiring of Mike McDonald, and also the departure of Kalen Deboer from the University of Washington.


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A Peanut Butter M&M's Production. In a world where Super Bowl winners get the world's admiration and a fancy ring, but the runners-up get nothing, one retired cop returns. That's one retired quarterback. Read the script.

Oh, sorry. One retired quarterback returns to claim what's his. Um, that's claim a ring with diamonds made from M&M's peanut butter, but you're on a roll. The Ring of Comfort, coming soon to a Super Bowl new you. We're pleased to welcome Greg Abell, longtime Seahawks insider with the News Tribune. And Greg, we know now that it's Mike McDonald coming out of Baltimore.

What do you think of the new head coach of the Seahawks? The way this came down, Amy, and how slow-played John Schneider, the GM from Seattle, made this, it became obvious Mike McDonald was the target. The way they were stringing out second interviews, and it was going into the fourth week of the search since they had it fired Pete Carroll on January 10th, it was becoming pretty obvious to me that they were waiting on Mike McDonald to become available to talk to. Of course, as most people know, the new NFL interview rules for head coaching vacancies meant the Seahawks had to wait basically until the Ravens' season was over to talk to him.

They had missed the early window right before the wildcard round began to talk to coaches from the top seeds of each conference. That's because it took three days after the season before they fired Carroll, and those three days was when the window needed to have requested McDonald. So they missed the first go-around of interviewing him.

So they didn't talk to him for the first time, Amy, until Tuesday in Baltimore when John Schneider got on the Allen family's private plane and flew there. And then the second interview was today when they hired him at the team facility. So that shows you how predestined they were on him, that they were going to go boom-boom, talk to him back-to-back, fly to Baltimore on his terms to talk to him first, and if that went well, then fly him straight to Seattle for the very next morning to make him the coach. They waited three-plus weeks for this, specifically for the Ravens' season to end to talk to McDonald. So as this hole was playing out, I could tell they were waiting on McDonald. And if McDonald liked what they were saying, he was going to be the new guy, even though he's 36, even though he's now suddenly the youngest coach in the NFL. Amy, in three weeks' time, the Seahawks went from the oldest coach in the league to the youngest coach in the league, half of Pete Carroll's age at 36. Wow. Well, what do you know about him so far?

A couple intriguing things. One is he still has a LinkedIn page. What NFL head coach has a LinkedIn page? He still has his grade point average from grad school up there.

That's fantastic. He has a 4.0 in sports management from the University of Georgia. It's interesting, he quit playing football after high school. He was in suburban Atlanta, high school, Centennial High School there, and then he went to the University of Georgia to be a college student. And while he was there, he got a job across town from the UGA campus at Cedar Shultz High School in Athens, Georgia. And it was known as a downtrodden program where the kids weren't really invested in football, and he became the freshman coach while still a college student in the high school. And the coaches there loved him, and he instantly bonded with the teenagers and motivated them and got the program all jazzed about football to where he went right to the varsity. It got so much that the University of Georgia across town began to hear about this college kid as a football coach at a local high school.

And so Mark Rick at the time, in 2010, hired him to be a graduate assistant at the University of Georgia staff. And that's how Mike McDonald began as a college kid, his coaching career. And then from Georgia, he became a quality control coach, and then in 2014, John Harbaugh hired him to be an intern with the Baltimore Ravens, and that's how he got into the NFL. And then after being a position coach for a few years and a trusted one, John Harbaugh said, Well, we have Wayne Martindale as our defensive coordinator here in Baltimore, but my brother needs one in the University of Michigan. And they hired Michigan, and Jim Harbaugh hired Mike McDonald to be Michigan's defensive coordinator for the 2021 season. And Michigan went from 113th in defensive efficiency in the country to 13th, and they won the first Big Ten title at Michigan since 2004. And it was an instant success there, the disguises and the blitzes and confusing offenses. So then Amy, John Harbaugh, we got to get you back to Baltimore and change you out. And they fired Wayne Martindale and Mike McDonald, the defensive coordinator, before the 2022 season. And that's how he got to where he is today after having the first defense in NFL history that had the most sacks, the fewest points allowed, and the most takeaways in one regular season this past year. Sounds like a Wunderkind.

It does. He sounds like Doogie Howser football coach. He looks like him, too. He doesn't even look 36.

I'm interested to meet him for the first time tomorrow, but he looks more like 26. It's such a juxtaposition, Amy, after having Pete Carroll for so many years, 14 years of dealing with Pete Carroll and his stories about Bud Grant and Lou Holtz. Pete Carroll had been coaching since Nixon was the president.

Oh my gosh. And now we've got Mike McDonald here, half his age, the youngest coach in the NFL. It just underscores how much they wanted to change, how much team chair Jody Allen told John Schneider, we're firing Pete Carroll to be completely different and the younger, newer, find the newest ways. The only surprise and all that is that they didn't hire an offensive coach, but a defensive coach to continue what was Pete Carroll's style for 14 years. Greg Bell is with us from Seattle after they announced the hiring of their new head coach, one of the last in the league to make this choice.

He covers the team for the News Tribune and it's after hours here on CBS Sports Radio. I know it's been a few weeks, but what was your reaction when you heard about Pete Carroll getting fired? Because I was surprised.

No, we were surprised, too. Every indication out here, Amy, was that Jody Allen, the team chair, did not want a regime change, that she was going to let Pete Carroll coach as long as he wanted to. When he was under contract through the 2025 season, an option year, he could have coached past his 75th birthday, would have made him the oldest coach in the NFL history. And it looked like that's what was going to happen because Jody Allen has an estate sale going on with her brother's estate, including the Portland Trail Blazers and a ton of the assets that her brother, Paul Allen, had.

Her late brother who died in 2018, underwater sea exploration, space exploration, philanthropy, clean water in Africa, finding cures for cancer, you name it. And the Seahawks are a part of that and it's going to take years for the estate to come around to selling the Seahawks, but it is destined to be sold. That's what Paul Allen wanted in his will. So the thought was that because of an indefinite win, but an eventual sale of the Seahawks, they wouldn't want to change the regime and start with a new coach in a new direction before that might happen. But this past season was so galling. The defense that they had spent so much money, tens of millions of dollars in new contracts, a generational draft pick, fifth overall in defense, and it actually got worse than it was in 2022. They were worse against the run 31st. They were 30th overall in defense.

One of the worst NFL defenses got even worse this past season. And the New Year's Eve game, when they played Pittsburgh out here in Seattle, the Seahawks had to win the last two games of the regular season and would have walked into the playoffs, clinching it by themselves, controlled their own destiny. The Steelers came out here on the ropes trying to fight for their own playoff lives, and they absolutely punished the Seahawks in their home field.

The whole lower deck was full of gold, terrible towels. It was a really embarrassing day, 202 yards rushing for the Steelers. The Seahawks knew it was coming and still couldn't stop it.

I think that was the day that Jodie Allen and her right-hand man, Burkhold Balkaninks, vice chair, decided, we're making a change, that this isn't going to work anymore, and it's not going to get any better. They were getting tired of just being 9 and 8, and this franchise, for all its history they had with Pete Carroll, hasn't been past the division round since 2014, their last Super Bowl season. That had to change in Jodie Allen and John Schneider's minds, and Allen picked Schneider's ways over Carroll. Carroll fought for the job. He was open and saying he wanted to keep coaching and didn't think he should be fired, but they wanted a new direction.

That's why they made the change, and they got younger with the most innovative defensive mind in the game. What is his role with the team now? That was all PR spin about the advisor, and we're just moving his roles. Carroll has no interest in that. He keeps getting asked about it, and he's like, I don't even know what to define, I don't really care right now, and John Schneider has since been asked about him.

He's very equally nebulous, and we'll figure that out. He had no role in this hiring of his successor. It's his replacement more than his successor.

They're going in a completely different direction. I'm not surprised if Pete Carroll would just go out on his home on the North Shore Hawaii and stay there for a year with his wife, Klena, and then see if some coaches' openings might appeal to him this time next year, but no. He wanted to stay, and they kicked him out. He got fired no matter what they called it. Greg Bell is with us from Seattle.

It's After Hours here on CBS Sports Radio. Obviously a lot to address with the roster. You talked about the defense. I'm wondering about the offensive side and how different it looks in 24. So what's up for change, the potential for change on that side of the ball?

Well, that's the big question now. You've hired a young, whiz, hotshot defensive coordinator. Who's your offensive guy? Who's the offensive man? It looked like it might be Ben Johnson. They interviewed him in Detroit.

John Schneider did on Monday before they interviewed McDonald on Tuesday in Baltimore, but then Johnson, as we all know, withdrew from consideration and stayed with the Lions. I mean, go back to Jim Mora replacing Mike Holmgren in 2009 and Pete Carroll for his 14 years. It's been defensive first coaches here in Seattle for the better part of 15 years. So the thinking was if it's really, truly going to be a different cut break from Carroll's ways, they're going to go with an offensive hotshot just like Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan, two coaches that have just stuck it to Seattle the last few years in the NFC West.

And then they go with the defensive mind instead. So the hire of an offensive coordinator is a big, big deal. And that was what Schneider was talking about in the interviews with McDonald and all the eight candidates that they interviewed. Who are you going to bring in offensively? The other issue that they talked about with McDonald and the big, big picture out there for the Seahawks, the quarterback situation. I think the Washington job's more attractive than the Seattle job for an offensive mind head coach because of the quarterback situation, because Washington has a second overall pick in this year's draft because they have $70-plus million in cap space. The Seahawks are over cap space right now.

They actually have to cut veterans before they even sign any. And they have the 16th pick in the draft, Amy, which is probably too low to get one of the top college quarterbacks who can come right in and play in the NFL right away. So what are they going to do a quarterback beyond 2024?

They've got a quarterback that the president, Geno Smith, is under contract. He's going to get a $12 million guarantee five days after the Super Bowl, but he's going to be 34 in October. His contract ends in 2025, which they could get out of after 2024 without much guaranteed money, actually. And even if they fulfill Geno Smith's contract, he'll be 35. His contract ends four years before Mike McDonald does.

Oh my gosh. So they need a future quarterback, but they don't have one. The backup Drew Locke, who the nation saw rally the Seahawks past the Eagles on Monday Night Football in December, his contract's over too. And that performance against the Eagles is going to get him some looks and free agency and some offers that'll probably entice him to leave rather than sit behind Geno Smith again. So they have no backup nor no future at quarterback.

Wow. And that's an issue for the offensive coordinator and for Mike McDonald and GM John Schneider to address here in this offseason. Do they draft one finally? Amy, they've only drafted two quarterbacks and then they're 14. Schneider's 14 years here. We all know Russell Wilson was one. Alex Magoo was another one from the seventh round a few years ago. Oh dear.

And that's it. So they have to change that because they don't have a quarterback of the future here. It's not just the Seahawks going through a ton of transition, Greg. We've also got Washington right on the heels of a national championship game appearance.

Kaelyn DeBoer departs. Then you've got Michael Panics, who's at the Senior Bowl getting ready for the draft. We talk about the change for the Seahawks. What about the change for Washington? It's incredible to go from Huskies to Tide, right?

Yeah, I jumped in on the end of that, Amy. I jumped in at the practical title game covering the Huskies and the Seahawks at the same time. Then the Sugar Bowl straight from the Seahawks. Season finale to the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.

And then next week, going to Houston for the national championship game. It was a shock, to say the least, to the Huskies, to their infrastructure, to their staff, to their recruits, to the players that were still underclassmen who had eligibility left at Washington that DeBoer left when he did. They were getting nervous the fact that DeBoer had not signed a contract that their athletic director, new athletic director Troy Dannen, tired from Tulane this fall, said that they had one ready for him in November. DeBoer said he didn't want to sign it, and he said at the time it didn't want to be a distraction for the team. What ended up happening was DeBoer had recently signed Jimmy Sexton, the super agent that has almost the entire SEC, including Nick Saban, as clients. So Sexton knew that Nick Saban was about to retire, even though no one else did.

Of course, his agent would know that. Wow. Pretty sure that he tipped off his new client, DeBoer. Hey, there's a chance you could get the Alabama job.

Oh my gosh. So hold on to signing anything Washington might offer you. Amy Washington offered DeBoer up to $10 million a year, which is unheard of for Washington money. That's more than twice the highest contract this UW's ever given. DeBoer was making $4.2 million this last year of his deal, and that was a renegotiated deal from last year.

He was going to get more than 2x of his salary, and he still said no. And that's the lore of the SEC in Alabama. And then all hell broke loose. Everyone's transferred. Amy, there are going to be 22 new starters on offense and defense.

Have you ever heard of that? No! 22 new starters for UW. The national championship team is going to have 22 new starters next year. College football is broken.

I could go on a soapbox. Of course, yes. I get that players should be paid.

Absolutely. I think players should be paid by a Jim Harbaugh model of the percentage of the television revenue that schools get to pocket. I don't think it should come from NIL, which has now become corrupt. And I think that the boosters eventually, like Washington boosters may soon be, are going to get tired of teams just becoming deserts overnight when a coach leaves. And when the booster money dries up, that's when change will come. There may be a day college football is wrecking itself so much that there may be a day that boosters say enough's enough. Right. We're not going to pay for this.

I'm going to go spend my money somewhere else. Instead of on a team that won't even resemble itself the next year. Alabama is the same thing. They're losing perhaps even more guys. About 22 starters, but overall across its roster.

Now that Jim Harbaugh has jumped to the NFL, Michigan is likely to look different too. Exactly. It's crazy. It's like pick-up football. It's like you're at the playground just picking dudes from one day to the next. Oh my gosh. It's absolutely insane. It is. Jet fish has come in from Arizona and he's trying to stabilize this, but that guy has never stayed at a job for more than two years at any stop anywhere.

And so no one out here thinks he's going to stay very long. It's absolutely crazy to say the least. The football scene in Seattle the last four weeks has been quite an adventure. I call it the wild, wild west. Literally.

And now it's almost comical to hear the NCAA try to accuse a particular school in Tennessee of having NIL violations when it's a thinly veiled disguise for pay-for-play. It almost needs to implode before they can figure out a way to do it with some long-term stability. Because right now it doesn't work at all. No, it doesn't.

And not only is the horse out of the barn, the entire species of horse is out of the barn. And they need to take the power, if it ends up being the Big Ten and the SEC, the power conferences and separate them from the rest. Because the rest aren't interested in this arms race and this NIL and the transfers at will. But the power schools can afford it and will. I think you're eventually going to see a super league and then you're going to have the rest of Division I that's going to split off. Ultimately the NCAA is governed by the member schools. Right. So if the NCAA wants to change it, the schools themselves have to.

And the most powerful, richest, influential schools in the Big Ten and the SEC don't want to change it. Greg Bell is with us here on CBS Sports Radio. Because you're in the NFC West and there's been this, I call it odd, I don't really understand the criticism of Brock Purdy. But what is your opinion of him as the Niners quarterback from what you've seen so far? He wins. That's my opinion.

Right. He's in a Super Bowl as the seventh-round pick last year. Sure, he has games that he does throw wildly.

The Green Bay game in the rain, the throws are going all over the place. He has a great supporting cast, yes. But I'm not going to compare him yet because he hasn't accomplished as much. But I grew up outside Pittsburgh in the 70s. He reminds me a little bit of Terry Bradshaw, who people had criticized long for not being intelligent, not having the skills to be an NFL quarterback. The guy won four Super Bowls in six years. A long, long time ago, a lifetime ago, Amy, I was Oakland A's beat writer for the Sacramento Bee, a young 20-something beat writer. Ken Macha was the manager after I covered Art Howe. And I had to sign a young vote one year for the Bay Area chapter of the Baseball Writers. And it was the year that Roger Clemens won 24 and 4, but his ERA was above 4. And Pedro Martinez, I think it was, had a near 500 record, not that stellar wins and losses. But his ERA was around 2. And the big debate was who should win the Cy Young Award that year.

This was the early 2000s. And so I asked Ken Macha off the record and dug out one day, who should I vote for? Clemens or Martinez? And Macha said something I've always remembered. In covering and in dealing with professional sports, Ken Macha looked at me and said, Greg, sports is about wins and F-ing losses. And I always remembered that Brock Purdy is about wins and not that many losses in two years.

And I have a hard time knocking a guy who's been as successful as he has, especially as a seventh round pick. And we'll see what happens coming up Super Bowl Sunday. It's only one game left, and yet football seemingly has not taken a backseat in any way, shape, or form. It's nonstop. The NFL is brilliant when it comes to the marketing and the planning of its quote unquote off season. It's almost psychotic. Someone has to cover it all the time.

The way it just never, never ends. The news is just manufactured. It's like a sausage factory. All right. You can find Greg on Twitter at G Bell Seattle. And so he'll have the coverage of Mike McDonald's introduction as the new head coach.

G Bell Seattle covers the team for the News Tribune and one of our favorites from the Pacific Northwest. Greg, thank you so much. It's great to have a couple of minutes with you. You too, Amy. Congratulations on your marriage. Make sure to put that out publicly. Congratulations on your new life.

A peanut butter M&M's production. In a world where Super Bowl winners get the world's admiration and a fancy ring, but the runners up get nothing. One retired cop returns. That's one retired quarterback. Read the script.

Oh, sorry. One retired quarterback returns to claim what's his. That's claim a ring with diamonds made from M&M's peanut butter.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-07 09:22:28 / 2024-02-07 09:32:15 / 10

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