Seattle Seahawks expected to promote Clint Hurtt to defensive coordinator, add Ed Donatell, sources say

The Seattle Seahawks are expected to promote defensive line coach Clint Hurtt to defensive coordinator, sources confirmed to ESPN on Friday.

Former Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Ed Donatell also is expected to join coach Pete Carroll’s defensive staff in a senior role, sources told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.

Hurtt, 43, has been with the Seahawks since 2017 and had since added the title of assistant head coach. He replaces Ken Norton Jr., the longtime Carroll assistant who was fired last month after spending the past four seasons as Seattle’s defensive coordinator.

The Seattle Times first reported on Friday that Hurtt was expected to become Seattle’s defensive coordinator, a role he has not filled in either college or the NFL. Hurtt was the only in-house candidate among the four reported to be considered for the vacancy.

Hurtt and the 64-year-old Donatell, who was also considered for the coordinator position and has a long history with Carroll, both worked under former Broncos coach Vic Fangio, perhaps signaling Carroll’s plan to incorporate some aspects of Fangio’s popular scheme into his own.

Before coming to Seattle, Hurtt spent three seasons under Fangio with the Chicago Bears, serving as their assistant defensive line coach in 2014 and their outside linebackers coach in 2015 and ’16. He spent the previous 13 seasons in the college ranks, coaching the defensive lines at Florida International, Louisville and Miami (Fla.), his alma mater.

A source told Fowler that Hurtt had been in the mix for the defensive coordinator job with the Hurricanes, a position that has since been filled.

His hiring continues a pattern of Carroll tabbing one of his current or past assistants to run his defense. Dan Quinn, Kris Richard and Norton had also previously worked under Carroll or were already doing so when they became coordinators with the Seahawks. Gus Bradley, a holdover from the 2009 staff, was the lone exception among the five defensive coordinators that Carroll has now had in Seattle.

The Seahawks, who went 7-10 and missed the playoffs for the second time since 2012, announced the firings of Norton and defensive passing game coordinator Andre Curtis on Jan. 18.

Curtis worked with Seattle’s defensive backs, which has been Donatell’s primary position group throughout a coaching career that has included three stints as an NFL defensive coordinator as well as a one-year stint in that role at the University of Washington during the Huskies’ winless season in 2008.

Donatell’s history with Carroll began 1983 at University of the Pacific. They also spent four seasons together (1990-94) with the New York Jets, with Donatell coaching defensive backs at both of those stops while Carroll was the defensive coordinator and the head coach, respectively.

Donatell spent the past 11 seasons working under Fangio between stints the San Francisco 49ers, Bears and Broncos.

The challenges for Hurtt and the rest of Carroll’s defensive staff will include avoiding slow starts that have plagued the Seahawks the past two years, creating more turnovers, reviving the pass rush and getting Jamal Adams back to Pro Bowl form.

Adams, who set a record for defensive backs with 9.5 sacks in 2020, was held without a sack in 2021 before a shoulder injury ended his season after 12 games.

The Seahawks finished 25th in takeaways and tied for 22nd in sacks despite the expectation that their loaded pass rush would be among their biggest strengths. They were fifth-worst in yards allowed and tied for 11th-best in points allowed.

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