As much as we may like (or dislike, at times) Pete Carroll as the Seahawks head coach, there’s no denying that he won’t be able to coach the team forever. He will turn 71 in September, and he’s the oldest head coach in the league.
His current contract runs through the 2025 season, but in the meantime, this organization should be looking for his replacement. I believe there’s a good chance Carroll’s potential replacement has already come to Seattle. His name is Shane Waldron.
Reasons Shane Waldron could excel as Seahawks head coach
When we think of Shane Waldron, we think of the passing game. This is natural, as he’s always worked in the passing game and was formerly the passing game coordinator for the Rams. So, what is Shane Waldron going to bring to the deadly passing attack of the Seahawks?
When Brian Schottenheimer ran the Seahawks offense, the passing attack was mostly based on the ability of Russell Wilson to extend plays until his receivers could find a small hole in the defense. Then Russ would thread the needle as he swallowed a massive hit from Aaron Donald or Chandler Jones. As unorganized as it sounds, it worked. And it worked well at times.
I think we will see something completely different in 2021. While Waldron will still lean on the ability of Russell to evade defenders, he will most likely be designing plays to get receivers open, rather than having them run around for six seconds downfield.
While it doesn’t sound sexy, we will probably see a bunch of 8-10 yard passing plays rather than 50-yard moonshots to Lockett and Metcalf. No one loves a good Russell Wilson airmail touchdown more than me, but I think this shift will make the offense overall more effective.
Shane Waldron also loves to use play-action often, and if the Seahawks can establish a solid running game through Chris Carson, these plays can be so useful in picking up first down after first down as the offense moves down the field. I also expect the jet sweep to come into play from time to time in this offense, with players like Gerald Everett, Freddie Swain, and DeeJay Dallas handling them.
In Gerald Everett’s first press conference as a Seahawk, he called Waldron an offensive “mastermind” and said that being able to remain under Shane Waldron was a deciding factor in his move to Seattle. I can’t wait to see what Waldron transforms this passing attack into in 2021. I think it will be much less predictable and will keep opposing defenses on their heels.
While Shane Waldron isn’t known for being a running game coach, I think he can work some magic in Seattle’s run scheme as offensive coordinator. I believe that, as opposed to last year, when Seattle runs the ball this year it won’t be straight down the opponents’ throats. This is a luxury the Seahawks can’t afford rolling with Carson as the starter, as he’s become more injury prone recently and can’t keep taking a beating.
I see Waldron’s running game in Seattle as being zone-based. I think the Seahawks will try to swing blockers out to the edges of the field in order to bounce Carson to the outside. Just like the passing game, the running game will be effective in spreading the defense out and keeping them guessing.
Where the Schottenheimer style of offense was very smash-mouth and predictable, I think the Waldron style will be quite tactical, where each block, each route, and each move by the running back contributes to the play.
Another area of the game where Seattle’s offense can improve under Shane Waldron is passing the ball to the running back. While Carson hasn’t historically been a pass-catcher in this offense, he flashed his receiving ability during the Let Russ Cook campaign of early 2020. Rashaad Penny is another player who could see more work in the passing game and on third downs, as well as DeeJay Dallas.
This is the one area about which we know nothing when it comes to Shane Waldron’s mind. Waldron has zero experience in coaching the defensive side of the ball. This is okay, though, since we know reasonably that Pete Carroll will be the coach of this team for at least the next three seasons.
So, Waldron has time to absorb some defensive knowledge from a very defensive-minded Carroll. Should Waldron serve in a head coaching position down the road, I would expect his defensive philosophy to closely reflect his offensive philosophy. Plays will be drawn to an exact science, with each player playing an important role on each down.
Is this the best move?
We don’t know yet. We haven’t seen anything out of Shane Waldron that impresses us or the front office. But Shane Waldron should alter the nature of the Seahawks’ offense in 2021, presumably for the better. Just how much better will change the views of team executives on whether he’s fit to run the team in a few years. I am excited to see what Shane brings to the field this season, and I would love to give him a chance to be the top dog when Pete Carroll finally calls it quits.