“We have a lot of respect for what they do, obviously, so much that we brought it here.” – Pete Carroll, on the Rams and Seattle’s own ex-Ram, Shane Waldron.
Shane Waldron had an inconsistent first month as Seattle’s OC and clearly has not yet found his rhythm as a playcaller – the offense has failed to play a complete game as the Hawks have started a disappointing 2-2.
But, like it or not, his warmup is over and it’s show time. His former team is in town for a nationally aired Thursday night game, and it’s time to show exactly why Carroll and Russell Wilson brought Waldron to Seattle. He’s here to beat the Rams, first and foremost.
It’s something Wilson and the Hawks have had real trouble doing since Aaron Donald joined the Rams in 2014. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year is 10-5 against Wilson and the Hawks, 6-3 since Sean McVay arrived in 2017 (bringing Waldron with him). Including last season’s playoff game, Donald has 15 sacks and 40 hits against Wilson.
Wilson said of Donald: “He’s definitely one of those guys I will tell my grandkids about, when I’m old and in the rocking chair.”
The respect is mutual, and Donald looks forward to wreaking more havoc.
“I have a lot of respect for (Wilson), the way he plays the game,” Donald told L.A. reporters. “We’ve got to find a way to put pressure on him, find ways to affect him, so we can win this game.”
Waldron’s big task will be to neutralize Donald by taking the lead and holding it. It means he and Wilson will need to put together their first complete game of the season – start to finish.
It’s what Arizona did in a 37-20 win on Sunday. Donald said, “(Arizona) was able to stay in a situation where they had a lead and was able to stick to a game plan to the point where we didn’t get too many opportunities to rush the quarterback.”
The Hawks know this team well, but Waldron certainly brings a valuable insider’s perspective. “Obviously, we’ve played them so much over the years,” Wilson said, “but I think he just has a great understanding of who they are and just kind of the players they are and everything else.”
Jordyn Brooks said practicing against a Rams-style offense since the summer gives them some insight into this game: “We can go back and look at that and ask Coach for some tips. He’s been there. He knows what they like to do. It helps us get further prepared for the game.”
“We have been talking about it the whole time in all aspects,” Carroll said. “We really couldn’t have more help in that regard. It doesn’t mean it shows, but we do have a lot of insight.”
Of course, it works both ways, Carroll pointed out: “They have theirs because he’s been with those guys a lot longer than with us. It’s a factor in some regard, but I don’t know where it fits.”
McVay has been watching. “I think Shane’s putting his own spin on (the offense),” the Rams’ coach said. “There are some elements … that would look familiar to you guys. But it’s certainly the Seahawks’ offense, for sure. And he’s done a nice job for the first four weeks, without a doubt.”
Well, that is some generous flattery by McVay. The Seahawks have been terrible on third downs (just 33%) and inconsistent from half to half. This is the week to get it together, even if Chris Carson (neck) may be out and DK Metcalf (foot) is playing hobbled.
Oddly, this is the third time in four years the Rams have come to Seattle in Week 5. The Rams won 33-31 in 2018, and the Hawks won 30-29 on a Thursday in 2019.
While Donald has a pretty good record against Wilson, the quarterback is 9-0 on Thursdays since losing his first one against the 49ers in his rookie year.
“It’s something that we’ve done very, very well,” Wilson said of the short-week turnaround. “It’s something that I pride myself in.”
Last year, the Hawks split with the Rams in a couple of low-scoring games (for them) before a 30-20 debacle in the Seattle playoff game. Waldron was brought in with the old “If you can’t beat ’em, have ’em join you” mindset, and this is his first chance to show that was the right move.