Clayton: With Waldron, Seahawks join trend with impressive track record
Jan 28, 2021, 12:45 PM
The Seahawks’ reported hiring of Shane Waldron as offensive coordinator follows a recent pattern of play-calling hires.
Many of the NFL’s most recent hires are coming from three main coaching trees. Kansas City’s Andy Reid, San Francisco’s Kyle Shanahan and the Los Angeles Rams’ Sean McVay have been the main producers for play callers, either for new head coaches or offensive coordinators.
Those who have learned from these coaches have one thing in common: they value the running game. So much of this goes back to Shanahan. He has carried over the running schemes of his father, Mike Shanahan, who was well ahead of his time when he was Denver Broncos head coach. Mike Shanahan would take a handful of running plays and run them with so many different ways of blocking to confuse defenses. His schemes were so good that he didn’t need first-round running backs to succeed.
McVay is considered a young genius with his offense and he deserves the praise. He’s that good. But don’t forget that he learned from Kyle Shanahan when they worked together in Washington, where Shanahan was OC from 2010-13 and McVay was an offensive assistant and tight ends coach before succeeding Shanahan as OC.
What’s interesting is how McVay’s offensive coaches have been in so much demand. That’s why the Waldron hire fits the trend. Much has been made of the fact that he hasn’t called plays in the NFL, but look at some of the most recent success stories.
Matt LaFleur, head coach of the Green Bay Packers, was a quarterbacks coach for Washington from 2010 to 2013. He became Falcons quarterbacks coach under Shanahan, who was offensive coordinator in Atlanta from 2015-16. McVay then hired him as Rams offensive coordinator in 2017, after which he went to do the play calling in Tennessee in 2018. The Packers hired LaFleur as head coach in 2019. In his one year with the Titans, he also taught the system to Arthur Smith, who became a hot coaching hire and was just named Falcons head coach.
Like Waldron, LaFleur and Smith didn’t call plays before getting the chance to be a play-calling offensive coordinator, yet they were successful when given the chance.
In each case, running the football was a major part of their offenses. What you see with the Rams is that McVay uses more pre-snap motion that set up running plays. The success of the run sets up play-action passes, which is vital to getting the offense going. After trading wide receiver Brandin Cooks, McVay’s Rams used more two-tight end formations. Shanahan does it a little differently in San Francisco because he has fullback Kyle Juszcyk, so he can do the same things with a two-back formation.
From what I hear, Waldron and Luke Getsy were among the finalists that Carroll was considering to be the Seahawks’ new offensive coordinator. Getsy is quarterbacks coach for the Packers who became available to interview after the Packers lost to Tampa Bay in the NFC Championship game. See the connection? Getsy is a young coach who learned from LaFleur, who learned from Shanahan and McVay.
It’s easy to see why Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson will accept and endorse the Waldron hire. Carroll wants to run the ball more and Waldron can do that, but these runs should come with more pre-snap motion, a quicker tempo and increased imagination. Waldron isn’t going to call boring, old-school running plays. This isn’t the single wing. He brings a running offense that remains on the cutting edge of the league. He’ll be comfortable using two tight ends because that what’s McVay has done with the Rams of late.
Will Waldron be a good play caller? We won’t know until he starts, but his hire fits a recent pattern in this league that has worked.
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