Salk: Big difference for Seahawks is that now, the offense is the show
There are plenty of things that seem familiar at Seahawks camp this year.
Pete Carroll is still the most energetic person on the field, the music is blaring and fans have returned to the berm. And like many of the last few seasons, the Seahawks find themselves trying to get back over the hump, determining what went wrong in their playoff loss and what tweaks will help them advance this time around.
But one thing stands out as different: the offense is the show.
That isn’t to say there hasn’t been a focus on the offense at previous camps. Who could forget 2012 when Russell Wilson, Matt Flynn and Tarvaris Jackson all took first-team reps at quarterback? Or when Chris Carson showed up for his sophomore season and looked like he had spent the offseason maturing into a full-grown man? Or when Brian Schottenheimer installed his offense after the merciful end of the Darrell Bevell era?
But even in those years, you couldn’t ignore the defense. They wouldn’t let you! Not with all of that talent, not to mention the enormous personalities that came with them. To attend Seahawks camp was to marvel at Kam’s size, to chuckle at Sherman’s charisma, to point out Earl’s intensity, or to wonder just what Michael Bennett would do next.
Training camp 2021, though, is all about the offense.
It’s about a quarterback and his newfound control at the line of scrimmage. It’s about a wide receiver in DK Metcalf who looks completely uncoverable. About a killer triangle between Wilson, Metcalf and Tyler Lockett that should consistently challenge defenses to pick their poison. It features a tight end group that has a combination of height, girth and speed. And there’s a running back in Carson who still punishes defenders in ways that makes Pete appreciate his “style.”
This offense has the ability to be deadly. We saw it at times early in 2020 as Russell started an MVP campaign. But as defensive coordinators adjusted and the offensive line regressed, the gallop slowed to more of a saunter.
Enter new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron.
If previous Seahawks OC Brian Schottenheimer was the son of a conservative coach, Waldron arrives as the representative of the latest NFL fashion. He’s trained under Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay and brings the uptempo, modern passing game that Russell has all but demanded.
When you watch this team practice, you can see the roots of that style being established. You see Russell looking deep before hitting an open receiver 12 yards downfield. You see a tight end screen (to Colby Parkinson) that makes you stop and wonder the last time you saw one. You see opportunities to get the freaky Metcalf matched up one-on-one and the versatile Lockett open in space. And you see all of the motions, formations, and backfield action that could ever confuse a defense.
Russell seems happy. He is in control. He is playing at his tempo. He can truly be the distributing point guard he wants to be. And with Carson, Metcalf, Lockett and these tight ends, he should have the weaponry to put up the best numbers of his career.
But two things worry me.
First, the offensive line. Adding Gabe Jackson helps, and Damian Lewis should build on a strong first season. But Waldron’s system promises to improve the protection and that will be necessary to let Russ even decide what to cook.
Second, as good as their skill position starters look, the Seahawks’ depth at wide receiver is thin. They are one injury to Lockett or Metcalf away from exploring some serious unknowns.
In the meantime, however, I can’t wait to watch this show against live bullets. The offense is poised to run, throw and create. And without the presence of a dominant (or even noisy) defense, it will be relied upon to be the identity of this team.