All of the key figures on the Seattle offense have now weighed in, and Tyler Lockett hit the most important factor in the Seahawks rebounding from their dud finish in 2020: “You have to learn how to evolve; you have to learn how to adapt.”
Like Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson and DK Metcalf before him, Lockett admitted the Seahawks did not adjust well to defenses that took away their deep throws in the second half of last season. The question is whether they will all be on the same page under new OC Shane Waldron as they look to avoid a similar fate and advance deep into the postseason in 2021.
Carroll, Waldron and Wilson all want to dictate to defenses. Carroll wants to do it running the ball, Wilson wants to be explosive and fast-paced, Waldron wants to blend all of that by attacking with a balanced offense and being “the one that puts the foot on the gas pedal.”
But Lockett touched on perhaps the most important change that must be made – and the biggest question about Waldron as a freshman coordinator.
“Going into this season, we’re going to have to learn to adapt to anything and whatever is thrown our way,” Lockett said. “If a team makes us have to run the ball, we as a team have to execute. If a team is giving us all the short throws, it’s being able to execute that. If they’re going to give us the deep balls, we’re going to take that. Whatever a team gives us, we’ve got to be able to take it rather than trying to go out there and do whatever we want to do. That’s what I’ve learned.”
Flexibility, adaptivity, reactivity. Not having it is why Brian Schottenheimer was fired, and that is where Waldron will prove whether he was worth the hire. Everyone expects the former Rams assistant to put together a good game plan, but the true measure of his mettle will be what happens when that plan does not work. Will he be able to adapt in game in a way Schotty or predecessor Darrell Bevell rarely could?
Waldron’s first job will be to get Carroll and Wilson to subvert their egos and follow his plan.
“I think there’s a lot of things that we can learn,” Lockett said. “There’s a lot of things he brings to the table which may be new to not only us but maybe coaches. … I think we have to go into it with the mindset to accept and listen and understand and not act like we know everything. I’m looking forward to it.’’
After he was hired, Waldron made it clear he is in total charge of the offense: “It will be through my direction that this offense is run, with the support of coach Carroll.”
That means a varied attack that includes lots of motion. Lockett said he looks forward to moving around the formation more consistently.
“I would love to move around more,” the receiver said, adding he is looking forward to Waldron teaching “us other ways to be able to get things done in a creative way that’s going to help put us in positions to be successful. … Now you’re bringing in somebody that’s very creative and strategic.”
Hopefully Waldron will move Wilson around as well. As Mike Holmgren, a very successful offensive coach, said earlier this offseason: “It’s very, very important to change the aiming point (for the defense) and to get the quarterback moving and delivering the ball from different spots. That includes play-action passes, half rolls, some dropback, some quick throws. You mix that up so the defensive line can’t just close their eyes and tee off.”
The Rams used a lot of rollouts, so you can expect Waldron to do the same. And then there is Gerald Everett, who should be Waldron’s secret weapon.
“Gerald brings versatility to any offense, so we’re excited to be able to get him here and really utilize him as a weapon that can move around and do a lot of different things within an offensive structure,” Waldron said. “He’s got aggressive hands, and he can seem to always find a way to get open vs. tight man-to-man coverage. Then his ability once the ball’s in his hand to make the first guy miss or break that first tackle has been something he’s consistently been able to put on display since college and right on through at the NFL level. So it’s a big asset as far as his ability to aggressively go attack the ball and then make something happen with it once it’s in his hands.”
Everett said “the best part of my game (is) the element of surprise. I can be a WR, I can be a TE, I can run the ball, I can pass pro, I can take the top off a defense. Seattle already has those things … and I feel like I can only add more.”
Everett called Waldron “a mastermind. He’s very creative, and I can’t wait to see what he’s going to do in Seattle.”
As long as he can help Wilson & Co. learn how to evolve and adapt, as Lockett said, that should be enough.