If you can’t beat ’em, have ’em join you.
That’s apparently what the Seahawks were thinking when they reportedly decided to hire Shane Waldron to fix an offense that diminished by 11 points per game in the second half of the 2020 season (from 34 to 23) and flamed out against Waldron’s Rams in the playoffs.
Waldron’s task will be simple (OK, simply defined anyway): Get Russell Wilson to sustain his excellent play into December and January, get the offense to play well against good defenses in the postseason and get back over the hump and into the Super Bowl.
Seahawks analyst Jake Heaps is among the many who like the move, because, “This is the first time you’re bringing in a (coordinator) who is on the cutting edge, who is on the innovative part of the game right now.”
Waldron, a 41-year-old Portland native, has never called plays. But he has some great offensive background with Tom Brady and the Patriots and obviously from Sean McVay’s powerful offense, which was a top-five passing unit under Waldron’s charge in both 2018 (Super Bowl year) and 2019 before taking a step back in 2020. The Rams also have been a top-10 rushing team under McVay, so Waldron comes with the sense of balance the Seahawks need.
Pete Carroll wants the Hawks to run it more, and Russell Wilson wants a well-rounded offense that can “do it all.” Waldron ideally will bring both. And Wilson, who was involved in the search, reportedly is on high on Waldron. Heaps also said Wilson is “extremely happy.”
Coming from the well-balanced Rams, Waldron should easily be able to marry the desires of coach and quarterback.
After the season, this is what Carroll said he wants: “We have to dictate what’s going on with the people that we’re playing, and (running the ball is) one of the ways to do that. We need to be able to knock those guys into the scheme that we want to throw at. … Frankly, I’d like to not play against two-deep (safety) looks all season long next year.”
And this is what Wilson said he wants: “We have to do everything extremely well. We have to be able to throw it down the field. We have to have great concepts in the middle of the field and to get the ball out quick. We want our screen game to be great. We want to be able to run the ball extremely well. We want to be up-tempo and be able to change the pace. We’re capable of all of that. I want to do it all well.”
Waldron comes from a system that should enable that.
The key to McVay’s offense is its unpredictability. Waldron figures to bring that to Seattle, using a lot of pre-snap motion, play fakes, rollouts, jet sweeps and quick passes. As Heaps said, “Shane Waldron has a PhD in how to attack defenses with tempo.”
Waldron also figures to use the tight ends better – the Rams’ Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett are sneaky dangerous and have had some big games against Seattle.
Expect the Seahawks to retain their base offensive language, as they did when Schottenheimer arrived in 2018, and blend concepts Waldron brings from the Rams. More than anything, Waldron needs to add an element of surprise that helps Wilson and he needs to make sure he adapts in game better than Schottenheimer did. The latter may be the hardest part for a rookie playcaller.
Wilson’s past few years all have the same pattern: Play like an MVP contender in the first half of the season and then fade at the end, when he faces better defenses. Waldron needs to be better at scheming against good defenses than his predecessors. He needs to help Wilson play consistently well through the season and into the postseason.
If he does that, the Hawks will get back to the Super Bowl. And that is why Waldron is here.
For more thoughts on Waldron and the Seahawks’ offseason, listen to us on today’s “The Emerald City Sportscast” with Dan Viens.