Gallant: 3 questions about reported new Seahawks OC Shane Waldron
The Seahawks were patient in their search for a new offensive coordinator. In the end? They reportedly hired someone away from the team that’s been their Daddy during the Sean McVay era: Los Angeles Rams passing game coordinator Shane Waldron.
Who knows what to expect out of Waldron? The Portland native hasn’t been an offensive coordinator since his time with Buckingham Browne and Nichols – a high school in Massachussetts – in 2011. Fun fact that no one cares about: I actually played football against them in eighth grade.
“Leave it to Gallant to somehow bring this back to his subpar athleticism. THIS IS ABOUT THE SEAHAWKS’ OFFENSE, PAWL.”
Waldron also spent two separate stints with the New England Patriots, first in football operations (2002-04) and then as a coach (2008-09), not to mention assistant coaching at UMass (2012-15) and with the Washington Football Team. But the reason he’ll be calling plays for the Hawks in 2021 is his time as a tight ends coach (2017) and passing game coordinator (2018-20) with the Rams.
On paper, the hire makes sense. But I’m a skeptic, and have some questions.
1. Is he qualified?
Jeremy Bates was the last Seahawks offensive coordinator hired by Pete Carroll with no previous experience in that role, but Bates at least had called plays from the field as USC’s quarterbacks coach in 2009 (under Carroll) while offensive coordinator John Morton worked from the coach’s booth in the press box.
Darrell Bevell, Seattle’s OC from 2011-17, was offensive coordinator for the Vikings from 2006-10 before replacing Bates in 2011. Brian Schottenheimer had a decade of experience as OC for the Jets, Rams and Georgia in the college ranks from 2006-15.
That’s not to say Shane Waldron isn’t qualified. As passing game coordinator for Los Angeles, he has been a co-coordinator, a job he held with running game coordinator Aaron Kromer. He’s significantly less experienced than his two predecessors, however, and would become the only Seahawks OC under Carroll that hadn’t called plays or been a coordinator at the college or NFL level before being promoted.
2. What did Waldron contribute in Los Angeles?
The Rams’ offense was one of the league’s best from 2017-19, leading the league in scoring in ’17 and finishing second in ’18. If you care about yards – I don’t – they had the league’s second-most in ’18 and seventh-most in ’19. On top of that, LA was a top 10 passing offense in ’17 (10th), ’18 (fifth), and ’19 (fourth).
But how much of a role did Waldron play in that success? After all, Sean McVay, one of the game’s best offensive minds, is their head coach. Matt LaFleur was the offensive coordinator in 2017, parlaying that into becoming Packers head coach, who he’s led to a 28-8 record in his first two seasons. Bengals head coach Zac Taylor was quarterbacks coach in 2018. LA’s offense hasn’t been quite as scary since those last two names left the building, and McVay now seems annoyed with his quarterback, Jared Goff.
To Waldron’s credit, his offense made the most of its skill players. Robert Woods, a Bills castoff, never had more than 65 catches or 699 yards receiving in his four seasons in Buffalo. With Waldron as passing game coordinator the past three years, he’s averaged nearly 89 receptions for 1,100 receiving yards per year. Cooper Kupp had success his first two seasons in the league, but over the last two years he’s averaged 93 receptions for 1,068 yards of his own.
LA’s tight ends have seen more success, too. Tyler Higbee, a former fourth-round pick, has 113 receptions for 1,255 yards and eight touchdowns over the last two years, while former second-rounder Gerald Everett has 78 catches for 825 yards and three TDs over that same stretch.
Over the last two seasons, I’ve been frustrated by how easily the Rams have carved up the middle of the Seahawks’ defense with their intermediate passing game. The best part about this hire? LA loses their passing game coordinator while Seattle, which seemingly forgot how to attack that way, gains it.
3. What happened between the Rams’ offense of early 2018 and the Rams’ offense of this past season?
This is the most important question for Waldron, and one I assume one that the Seahawks asked him during his interview.
The Rams’ offense used to be far more terrifying than its defense. Remember when they beat Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs in a 54-51 shootout towards the end of 2018? But as that season closed out, the Rams’ offensive dominance vanished. In their season finale – Super Bowl LIII against the Patriots – LA scored just three points. Three!
What happened? Was Jared Goff figured out? Was the Rams’ offense built entirely on Todd Gurley’s knee? Did its offensive line forget how to block?
I hope Waldron has the answer.
Listen to Paul share his three questions about Shane Waldron from Wednesday’s edition of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny and Gallant at this link or in the player below. The segment begins around the 26-minute mark.