The Seahawks were in dire need for some optimism in the weeks following the team’s Wild Card Round blunder against the Rams and what ended up being a mostly-hollow 12-win season. That reason for good vibes has arrived with the team’s new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron.
Seattle conducted a wide and varying search for Brian Schottenheimer’s replacement, and Adam Schefter reported on Tuesday night that the Seahawks picked Waldron. The former Rams passing game coordinator had been with the club since 2017 as he came over from Washington with Sean McVay.
Jake Heaps of 710 ESPN Seattle joined this week’s Talkin’ Seahawks Podcast to share his excitement over the hire. He explained that Waldron is the perfect candidate to check boxes for what both Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson were looking for.
“You get the perfect mesh of both with Shane Waldron, a guy who comes from a system – in that Shanahan tree and Sean McVay and their offense – that starts with the running game. When they’re at their best and they’re most explosive and most dangerous is when their running game gets going. That allows them to do so many other things in terms of their naked bootlegs, their play action passes, their screen game and their ability to turn up the tempo.
“This is the first time you’re bringing in a guy who is on the cutting edge, who is on the innovative part of the game right now. He’s been a guy who has coached every single position.”
Heaps has a friend on the Rams coaching staff who also gave Waldron a resounding endorsement.
“If we lose him, this is going to be a huge loss and a loss that people just don’t realize how big it is because Waldron is that pivotal to Sean McVay and the game planning that they go through each and every single week,” Heaps’ friend told him.
Wilson’s deep shots aren’t going anywhere. We know that Pete Carroll loves to dial up play action verticals. But what Seattle lacked, particularly in the back half of the 2020 season, was an efficient short--to-mid-range passing game.
The offense in the Shanahan coaching tree and specifically under McVay specializes in horizontal movement. Diverse run looks, pre-snap window dressing and getting players open in space are all key traits of the scheme that Waldron should be bringing with him (at least to some degree) to Seattle.
Heaps discussed the importance of sequencing and setting up plays. McVay and Kyle Shanahan are masters at giving the “illusion of complexity” to where defenses don’t know what’s coming. There’s a benefit to having a wide range of options out of the same looks and formations.
“It puts defenses in a really tough bind,” Heaps said. “Then you add different elements that I’m excited to see for Russell Wilson in particular to have a more accomplished short and intermediate passing game.”
An improved quick passing game should give Wilson more silver-platter throws and easy yards. That will keep him from feeling like he has to be Superman on every drop back. Wilson has also expressed multiple times his wishes to operate with up-tempo more frequently.
“Shane Waldron has a PhD in how to attack defenses with tempo,” Heaps said.
The relationship should be mutually beneficial for Waldron and Wilson. For Waldron, he gets to work with a future Hall-of-Famer whose patented off-script can make any OC look good. From Wilson’s end, there might be an element of “you don’t know what you don’t know” at play.
Improving Wilson’s ability to read and diagnose a defense pre-snap and make any necessary checks will be vital for Waldron. The same goes for getting Wilson comfortable and confident with the timing of the short passing game Waldron will have to implement. There are undoubtedly more levels in Wilson’s game yet to be unlocked even as he enters Year 10.
“If you can help your quarterback see that game the way you do, you don’t have to be perfect,” Heaps said. “You just call the play and you allow him to get you into the right situation. I think that could be a tremendous benefit for him as a first-time play-caller.”
We won’t begin to know how things will ultimately play out with Waldron and the Seahawks until September. But for any Seahawks fans looking for a reason for optimism, the team’s new OC should offer hope that better days are ahead for Seattle’s offense.