3 Things to Know: New Seahawks OC Shane Waldron’s 1st press conference
The Seahawks made their hire of new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron official late last week, and we were able to hear from Waldron for the first time about his new job and what he’s looking to do in Seattle during a press conference Tuesday afternoon.
Waldron, 41, was the Los Angeles Rams’ passing game coordinator the last three seasons under head coach Sean McVay, who he credited Tuesday as being instrumental in preparing him for this new job.
Now, Waldron moves up the West Coast from Los Angeles to Seattle, closer to where he grew up near Portland, to work alongside Pete Carroll for the Seahawks.
Speaking of working with Carroll, let’s look at three takeaways from Waldron’s introductory Seahawks press conference.
He sounds like a Pete Carroll coach
“I couldn’t be more fired up, personally, to get the chance to get back up to the Pacific Northwest,” Waldron said.
“Fired up” is a sort of catchphrase for Carroll, so hearing Waldron say it right off the bat was interesting to hear. But it wasn’t just through his demeanor that makes Waldron seem and sound like a guy who’d work for Carroll in an important role.
Waldron said he has three focuses for his offense going forward, starting No. 1 with being “all about the ball,” another key focus of Carroll’s Seahawks since he’s been in Seattle.
“It’s going to be all 11 (players), every play cognizant of the ball, cognizant of what their role is within the play and how they can protect the football,” Waldron said.
No. 2 is being a “fundamentally sound offense.” Waldron said the game is based on fundamentals that can’t be overlooked just because these are professional athletes at the top of their game.
“So it’s going to be a fundamentally sound group that’s going to be bought in together, working well together and we’re not going to let a day go by where we’re not working on one of the fundamental core beliefs of our offense (go by) whether it’s blocking, whether it’s catching the ball, it’s the exact detail in which we’re going to take a handoff or the exact detail in which we’re going to run a route,” he said.
And focus No. 3 is maybe Carroll’s favorite word when discussing offense: balance.
“Our offensive philosophy, we’re going to be a balanced offense and it’s going to have that ability to create explosive plays with that attacking mindset. We want to be the one where the foot is on the gas pedal, and we’re going,” Waldron said.
Carroll loves running the football and Waldron comes from a team that has had great success on the ground as well in the Rams. While run-oriented offenses can be seen as old school, Waldron doesn’t think it has to be.
“The balanced approach is really how I want to view this thing. And I think what really blends the ability to play good complementary football … and having that balanced approach that’s able to adjust and adapt depending on the style of the game or what the score might dictate in any particular game,” he said. “… And just because I’m saying it’s a balanced attack doesn’t mean that that’s a conservative attack, so I don’t ever want to get that confused.”
Waldron said that during his interview for the position with Carroll, he didn’t have to sell himself on anything because it was clear he and Carroll have similar mindsets.
“It was a football discussion that had so many things in alignment that it just felt like a natural progression as we got to know each other and talk through things and so many of those things were just naturally in alignment, and that’s where I think I felt really good about the process.”
Waldron will lead offense’s direction
Some concerns among fans and analysts were that Carroll may want a “yes man” for his new offensive coordinator, that a coordinator would be handcuffed by having to run a scheme that Carroll wants, or that Carroll may try to get involved with play calls during games as he has in the past. Waldron seemed to say that shouldn’t be an issue going forward.
“I talked to Pete a bunch about this in the process. He has my back (and is) fully supportive with what I want to do and what direction we want to take this thing together, so it will be a situation where I feel like I’m walking into a great scenario with a bunch of great coaches that have such a solid foundation from coach Carroll right on down through the rest of the men on the offensive staff that I’ll get a chance to work with,” Waldron said.
Under former coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, the Seahawks’ offense kept a lot of the same plays and schemes that his predecessor Darrell Bevell ran. Waldron said there will be some overlap but that the focus is on what’s ahead rather than the past.
“I have a core set of beliefs I’m going to stick to, but we’re going to build this thing together. The one thing with Russell (Wilson) and the rest of the players that are on this team is they have a great foundation and have won a lot of football games together,” he said. “So will there be parts of stuff that carries over? Absolutely, because there’s been some great things they’ve done in the past. But for me, I’m more worried about 2021. There’s a lot of things in the past that we all learn from and I think we grow from those experiences, but really everything moving forward is going to be about this year and how this group of players fit together, how this group of coaches fit together and how we can attack that with that competitive mindset.”
Waldron also got to immediately show his sway with the team as the Seahawks hired a new run game coordinator in longtime Rams assistant offensive line coach Andy Dickerson. The two were college teammate, have coached together for a number of years and are good friends. According to Waldron, the decision to hire Dickerson stemmed from Carroll wanting to assist in Waldron’s move to a new team.
“When talking to coach Carroll (he asked me), ‘Hey, is there someone that we can potentially bring with you that would be instrumental in helping you in this transition?’ My first thought was Andy,” Waldron said. “And then it timed up with the way that everything worked out, so he’ll be able to come on board as the run game coordinator and he’ll be instrumental in helping with the transition and really, like I said, being able to blend with (offensive line coach Mike Solari) and get things all connected and marry everything that we want to do together philosophically.”
Excited to work with Russell Wilson
Along with working with Carroll, Waldron will now work closely with Wilson, who is considered one of the three to five best quarterbacks in the NFL. Naturally, Waldron is looking forward to starting that professional relationship.
“I think the great part about Russell Wilson in this system is he has the ability to do a lot of different things,” he said.
Waldron said he’s gotten to know Wilson better through the interview process and since he was hired, but that most of their conversations have been about developing a relationship on a personal level since the football side of things will come up later on.
As far as the football side, though, Waldron said Wilson is “an exciting guy to get to work with.”
“He’s a guy that, just like coach Carroll, (I’ve had) the utmost respect from afar from the opposite sideline,” Waldron said. “(Wilson is) a guy that any time in any situation in a game when I’ve been on the offensive side of the ball you’re just peeking up and saying, ‘Man, at any point this guy can just explode and create a game-winning play.”
Waldron said that Wilson’s mindset of “he’s going to be the best” and preparing every day to be the best is something he’s looking forward to working with. Waldron also gushed about Wilson’s physical tools.
“From a positional standpoint he can make every throw you need to make, he can run any part of any offense that you want to get to,” he said, “so I think the best thing for us is going to be really finding out through this marriage where we fit together, what things he loves, what things fit offensively and then moving forward from there.”