Last Friday, Shane Waldron officially became the Seahawks’ new offensive coordinator, the fourth of the Pete Carroll era, replacing the fired Brian Schottenheimer.
Tuesday, Waldron — who for the last four years was an assistant with the Rams and spent three of those as LA’s passing-game coordinator — talked to media in Seattle for the first time via Zoom, a half-hour session in which he answered questions about his offensive philosophy, the process of getting the job, and more.
Here are five things that stood out:
Yep, he’s ‘all about the ball’
Asked to state his overall philosophy, the 41-year-old Waldron began by repeating what has also been Carroll’s No. 1 mantra for decades — there is nothing more important than not turning the ball over.
“It’s always going to be all about the ball,’’ Waldron said. “It starts there from an offensive perspective. There’s no greater statistic that leads to wins and losses than that turnover differential, so it’s always going to be something that’s emphasized. And it’s not just about the guys carrying the ball; it’s going to be all 11 every play cognizant of the ball, cognizant of what their role is within the play and how they can protect the football.’’
Turnovers became an issue for Seattle this year when a spate of 10 in four games led to losses in three of them at midseason, after which Carroll made clear the offense had to figure out how to stop losing the ball so much.
Waldron seems on board with making sure that happens.
Balance doesn’t have to mean conservative
Waldron said his No. 2 and 3 objectives are “to be a fundamentally sound offense’’ and that “we’re going to be a balanced offense.’’
Balance, of course, has also been a core belief of Carroll’s forever, and something he said after the season the Seahawks need to improve on in 2021. He said Seattle has to run the ball both more and better to make the team harder to defend after the way opponents ganged up on the deep-passing attack in the second half of 2020.
But Waldron said not to mistake balance with caution.
“We want to be the one that puts the foot on the gas pedal,” Waldron said. “Just saying that it’s a balanced attack doesn’t mean that that’s a conservative attack, so I don’t ever want to get that confused. That will really be the core philosophy that we live by as far as the starting point with run vs. pass vs. any other schematic things we want to get into.’’
The Seahawks reached out to him
Waldron has been an NFL coach for seven seasons, with stints with the Patriots, Washington and then the Rams before coming to Seattle.
Waldron said he hadn’t really crossed paths much with Carroll in that time, though he noted he first was on the other sideline from Carroll during three years he spent as a graduate assistant at Notre Dame from 2005-07 when Carroll was at USC.
But Waldron said he had never really talked to Carroll until the Seahawks approached him about interviewing for the job.
“I’ve always just respected him from afar or from the opposite sideline,’’ Waldron said. “I’ve never had a chance to really interact with them before Seattle reached out to start this interview process. So that was really the way this thing started.’’
Waldron said he and Carroll talked remotely for several days before the job offer arrived.
“There were a lot of phone calls, a lot of FaceTime, Zoom elements to this process with him,” he said. “Over the course of several days we spoke, had some great conversations, starting with philosophy, starting with my history and really taking it all the way through things that he believed in. And at the end of this thing, really just making sure that we were aligned in how we view the game, how we view things moving forward.’’
Waldron said one thing that stood out is that he didn’t feel as if he was having to make “a sales pitch’’ to get the job. That instead, he felt like he and Carroll were just talking and realizing how much of their views meshed.
“There was so much philosophical alignment between he and I, going back to just that starting point of saying ‘Hey, it’s all about the ball.’ Well, lo behold, what’s his starting point? … So many of those things were just naturally in alignment,” he said.
He’s building a relationship with Russell Wilson
The obvious focal point of everything Waldron will do in Seattle is Wilson, who is coming off a year in which he threw a career-high 40 touchdown passes but also ended with some erratic performances. He also had just 12 TDs in the final eight games.
Wilson said after the season he wanted to have a say in the new offensive coordinator, and Waldron said he and Wilson have already talked.
Waldron, though, didn’t get too specific about those conversations and said for now they have mostly centered on getting to know each other rather than much about X’s and O’s.
“Had a great chance to get to know him as a person,’’ Waldron said. “Talked a lot about our families and just really getting to know each other more as people because I do think, you know, the football part of it, that’s going to be an important part of it when the time’s right.’’
But Waldron made clear he’s excited to work with Wilson on the field, noting that he presents an ability to make something-out-of-nothing that is rare in the NFL.
“(He’s) a guy that anytime in any situation in the game, when you know I’ve been on the offensive side of the ball, you look up and you’re just saying, ‘Man, at any point, this guy can explode and create a game-winning play,”’ Waldron said.
He’s been ‘preparing my whole life’ to call plays
Waldron was something of an off-the-radar hire because he has no previous experience as an offensive coordinator other than one year at Buckingham Browne & Nichols School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 2011.
But Waldron said he’s ready to jump into the crucible that is being an NFL play-caller.
“It’s a great challenge, and it’s a challenge that I’ve been preparing for my whole life,’’ he said.
Waldron noted that Rams coach Sean McVay let him call plays at times in the preseason (notably, in 2019) as well as in some other scrimmages and practices.
“So I’ve had a little hand in it that way, knowing that that’s obviously not the real deal,” Waldron said. “… But like I said, it’s just one of those things where I feel like I’m a guy that likes to prepare. I want to be organized. I want to have a really consistent approach, and in my mind, that preparation began a long time ago and I can’t wait for this chance to go ahead and do it.’’
As for the heat that can come with it?
“In my mind, pressure is earned,’’ he said. “… And that pressure is a privilege and it’s part of it, and something that I’m never going to shy away from, and always want to go with that attacking mindset.’’