Like any coach with sustained success, the Seahawks’ Pete Carroll has hired myriad coordinators. Sometimes it is to replace ones poached by other teams. Other times to replace ones he fired.
But this recent reported selection of Rams pass-game coordinator Shane Waldron to serve as the Seahawks’ offensive coordinator is likely Carroll’s most important hire to date. The Seahawks’ offense has not had this kind of firepower since Carroll took over 11 years ago, and they need the OC to deliver.
Talking about the Seahawks nabbing a new OC would have seemed absurd at the midway point of this season. Seattle was leading the NFL in points per game as quarterback Russell Wilson emerged as the MVP frontrunner. Brian Schottenheimer — the offensive coordinator — seemed like a lock to return (assuming he didn’t get a head-coaching offer). Then, well, things fell apart.
The Seahawks scored 23 points or fewer in six of their final nine games. Slow starts plagued them, and Wilson’s passer rating plummeted.
Did this all fall on the offensive coordinator? I’m not sure he can ever take all of the blame. But as wide receiver DK Metcalf said: “Teams just started to figure us out.” And if that’s the case — it’s a tremendous waste of the Seahawks’ offensive talent.
This season the 23-year-old Metcalf broke Seattle’s season receiving yards record with 1,303 of them. Teammate Tyler Lockett broke Seattle’s season receptions record with 100. Running back Chris Carson might not be as dynamic as Marshawn Lynch was in his prime, but he did average 4.8 yards per carry. And Wilson made his eighth Pro Bowl in the past nine years.
That isn’t a menu for an offensive coordinator so much is it as a full-on buffet. Which is why this Waldron hire is so critical — he simply has to make it work.
The Seahawks have had plenty of successful defensive coordinators during Carroll’s tenure — Dan Quinn, Kris Richard and Ken Norton Jr., to name a few. But the thought has always been that Carroll is the primary hand in the defense’s success. That isn’t necessarily the case with the offense, although that side of the ball does have to bend to Carroll’s philosophy.
After the Rams eliminated the Seahawks from the playoffs this month, Carroll stressed that they must run the ball more. Perhaps this approach didn’t quite jell with what Schottenheimer had in mind, as he and the Seahawks parted ways, citing “philosophical differences.”
Given that he has never been an NFL offensive coordinator, Waldron probably isn’t going to argue with Carroll much about offensive philosophy. And seeing as how the Seahawks are bringing in a pass-game coordinator, this team might not be quite as run-happy going forward as initially thought.
Despite his struggles in the second half of the season, Wilson still threw a career-high 40 touchdown passes. The Seahawks, meanwhile, scored the most points in franchise history. They aren’t going to abandon the pass — they just want to make sure that as teams “figure them out,” as Metcalf said, they can figure out how to counter.
It is, of course, unknown whether Waldron is the answer. This is the case with any new hire, but it is particularly true with someone who has never served as a coordinator in the pros before. The Rams’ offense has been dynamic over the years, and Waldron played a prominent role in the approach — but it’s a different game when the offensive strategy falls squarely on you.
Will Waldron utilize Wilson in a way Schottenheimer couldn’t in the second half of the season? Will he help ensure that the Seahawks protect the ball in the fashion Carroll deems so important? Will he maximize players such as Metcalf and Lockett, who might be the NFL’s best 1-2 receiver combination? These questions linger.
Painful as it may have been for their fans to watch them lose in the first round of the playoffs, the Seahawks weren’t going to make a deep run anyway. They didn’t simply have a poor offensive performance in that 30-20 loss to L.A., they were in a month-and-a-half-long offensive funk. A change had to be made.
So now Seattle has Shane Waldron to run what may be the most physically gifted offense the Seahawks have ever had. Will he end up being Carroll’s best hire? Impossible to say. But for now, he seems like the most important one.