Rost: Honesty is the best policy when it comes to fixing Seahawks’ offense
If “tempo” is the theme for the Seahawks’ new offense, then “reflection” might be the theme for their approach to making it work.
Wide receiver Tyler Lockett offered the best explanation during a mid-week press conference from the team’s minicamp.
“We’ve allowed ourselves to learn,” Lockett said of gelling with new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron. “To be able to kind of sit down and say, ‘You teach us. What is it that we’re missing? What is it we need to know? How can we get better?’ And being able to give him that free rein to really be able to bring what he wants to bring in order to make us great. Instead of us acting like we’ve got it together, instead of us acting like we’ve been here before, we’ve always been to the playoffs this many times. Instead of acting like you need to follow our lead, I think we’ve done a really great job in being humble and learning how to follow his lead.”
Since 2015, the Seahawks have had several weapons on offense: a franchise quarterback and a couple talented pass catchers (including an All-Pro tight end that they surrendered a first-round pick to acquire). They’ve had a bruising running back capable of putting together a 1,000-yard season, and this offseason they spent money to keep him in Seattle. They’ve used a second-round pick to trade for a Pro Bowl left tackle, and they’ve spent two first-round picks on offensive additions through the draft. They threw $12 million worth of one-year deals at a guard and running back in free agency in 2017, and in 2019 they made their quarterback – for a time – the highest-paid player in the league.
And since 2015, the Seahawks have won three playoff games.
Blame that on health (you can), defensive struggles (that too), bad investments (back to those 2017 free agents…), or kicking woes (tough walk down memory lane there). But the offense and offensive coaching deserves some of that blame, as well. When a team that is one of the league’s winningest during the regular season fails to find much postseason success, there’s usually a share of blame to go around.
There is good news for Seahawks fans in that history of regular season success. Seattle has been able to remain a winning franchise despite the loss of an elite secondary and one of the league’s best running backs. They’ve been able to remain successful despite one of the most crushing defeats in Super Bowl history. They’ve been able to remain successful despite not having high first-round picks, and despite having multiple changes at defensive and offensive coordinator.
But they haven’t figured out a way to graduate to the next level, to push further into the playoffs and make another run at the Lombardi, which is why hearing about honest reflection from Lockett was refreshing.
The Seahawks are built like a team whose offense should lead them to a Super Bowl. They have approximately 57% of their salary cap invested on the offensive side of the ball (eighth-most in the league), and that includes a hefty salary for one of the league’s top-rated passers, Russell Wilson. It’s a total that’s sure to increase when DK Metcalf is due a contract extension next offseason.
Despite that investment, they’ve trailed behind league leaders in key offensive categories. They were middle of the road in yards per game in 2017 (330.4) and 2018 (323) despite leading the league in rushing yards during the latter. In both 2018 and 2019 they were top 10 in points per game (26.8 and 25.3, respectively), but that paled in comparison to the Chiefs’ 35.3 in 2018 and Ravens’ 33.2 in 2019.
The Seahawks have been a good offense with great moments but haven’t found a way to be consistently dominant. And even if defense still wins you championships, having an elite offense can certainly help punch your ticket to a deep playoff run – just look at last year’s four conference round teams.
Speaking of honesty, head coach Pete Carroll has been open about things he’d like to improve on even from last year’s offense, which was one of the most productive units in franchise history. He was openly hopeful for improvement on third down. Seattle converted an abysmal 38.42% of its attempts.
He also seemed open to a change of pace, both literally (for an up-tempo offense) and figuratively when it comes to offensive control.
“I have not gotten in his way because he has such command of what he’s doing,” Carroll said of Waldron while speaking to reporters during Thurday’s minicamp finale. “He knows how it fits together and he’s been able to orchestrate the teaching process in a way that’s allowed us to do quite a few things this offseason. I know you can hear from the players, they’re impressed with him. He’s just left them with a really good impression of his command, his verbiage… they’re impressed, I’m impressed… we’re ahead of where we thought we’d be right now. So it’s really a tribute to he’s done a nice job with us.”