Salk: New Seahawks OC Waldron has ‘one of the hardest jobs in Seattle’

Jul 31, 2021, 9:57 AM
Seahawks OC Shane Waldron, QB Russell Wilson...
New Seahawks OC Shane Waldron will work closely with star QB Russell Wilson. (Getty)

The 2021 Seattle Seahawks have two coordinators at very different stages of their career.

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The man leading the charge on defense is Ken Norton Jr., who’s entering his fourth season as Seattle’s defensive coordinator. He previously served as DC of the then-Oakland Raiders before returning to head coach Pete Carroll’s Seahawks staff in 2018.

And on offense it’s a new face in Shane Waldron, who’s getting his first crack running an NFL offense. Waldron was with the Los Angeles Rams for the previous four seasons, serving as passing game coordinator for the last three.

Any coordinator in the NFL is going to be under a lot of pressure, but both Waldron and Norton will especially be under the microscope in 2021.

The Seahawks’ defense had a strong finish to 2020, but it started poorly over the first half of the year and was among the NFL’s worst in 2019.

Waldron, meanwhile, enters what could be a rather sticky situation in his first year in Seattle.

While filling in for Jake Heaps on 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake and Stacy on Tuesday, Mike Salk explained why he thinks Waldron is under more pressure this year than Norton.

“I think Shane Waldron’s got one of the hardest jobs in Seattle right now,” Salk said. “He’s stuck firmly between two of the most powerful and influential figures in Seattle sports history who don’t seem to be on the same page.”

Those two figures, of course, are Carroll and star quarterback Russell Wilson.

Carroll is entering his 12th season in Seattle, and Waldron is the fourth offensive coordinator he’s had with the Seahawks and third in five years.

This season will be the 10th for Wilson, who’s emerged as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, but he caused quite a stir earlier this offseason with comments and reports that he was unhappy with certain aspects of the organization and offense. That centered mostly around pass protection and how often Wilson has been hit and sacked in his career, but there were also reports that Wilson was unhappy with the offense and personnel. As you might expect, trade rumors involving Wilson and the Seahawks were flying around all offseason.

Waldron now enters a situation where he’s working closely with both Carroll and Wilson, and it’s unclear if those two are on the same page.

“On one hand (Waldron has) got to make Pete Carroll happy, who wants balance, who wants to run the ball (and play) physical football,” Salk said. “And on the other hand he’s got pass-happy ‘Let Russ Cook.’ That’s a really challenging spot to be in.”

After years of more balanced and even run-first offenses, the Seahawks let Wilson loose over the first half of 2020, and he looked like an MVP candidate as he was on pace to have the greatest statistical season ever by a quarterback. But then he had too many turnovers for Carroll’s liking over a four-game stretch, and the offense became less dynamic and, at times, more conservative over the second half, which coincided with the defense’s emergence.

Now, Waldron brings in a new playbook and must get things sorted out on that side of the ball before the Seahawks’ Week 1 opener on the road against the Indianapolis Colts, who made the playoffs last year.

“Oh, by the way, he’s got to teach this new offense and he’s got to get this offensive line whipped into shape, which was not the case last year,” Salk said of Waldron. “He’s going to be under very strict scrutiny from both fans and the coaching staff and management. I don’t know how many more offensive coordinators Pete can go through. So I would say there’s a tremendous amount of pressure on Shane Waldron.”

Listen to Salk’s full comments in the second hour of Tuesday’s Jake and Stacy at this link or in the player below.

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