Following a two-week search featuring a wide array of reported potential candidates, the Seahawks have found their new offensive coordinator.
According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, Seattle is expected to hire Los Angeles Rams passing game coordinator Shane Waldron to replace Brian Schottenheimer, who parted ways with the team on January 12 due to "philosophical differences." The team has yet to officially confirm the move.
Waldron, 41, originally opened his NFL coaching career as an operation intern for the Patriots in 2002, and after three years at Notre Dame as a graduate assistant, he returned to Foxboro as a tight ends coach. He bounced around with several jobs over the next few years, including serving as a receivers coach for the Hartford Colonials of the now-defunct United Football League.
Following four years at UMass, where he coached tight ends and offensive line, Waldron finally returned to the NFL in 2016 as an offensive quality control coach with Washington. One year later, he followed coach Sean McVay to southern California as a tight ends coach, working his way up to passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach as a replacement for Zac Taylor in 2019.
During Waldron's four seasons on the Rams' offensive staff, the franchise finished in the top five for scoring twice, including boasting the NFL's most potent offense in 2017. Along with finishing in the top 10 in passing yards three times, they ranked in the top 10 in rushing yards during three of those seasons, which no doubt caught the attention of Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, who has made improving their run game a focal point heading into 2021.
In addition, contrasting to the Seahawks' perpetual issues protecting Wilson, over the past three seasons with Waldron as pass game coordinator, the Rams have finished seventh, first, and fifth overall for fewest sacks allowed. An emphasis on getting the ball out quickly has helped keep Jared Goff upright and allow the offense to remain on schedule, two areas Seattle struggled with throughout the final two months of the season.
Becoming the latest assistant coach to depart McVay's staff, which already lost defensive coordinator Brandon Staley as the new head coach for the Chargers earlier this month, the Seahawks will put their faith in Waldron to rejuvenate an offense that unraveled during the second half of the 2020 season. While quarterback Russell Wilson threw a career-best 40 touchdowns, the team scored 20 points or less five times in their final nine games, including a wild card loss to the Rams.
If Waldron plans to implement an offense similar to the one orchestrated by McVay during his first opportunity as a coordinator, Seattle will likely lean more heavily on the run as well as the play action passing game. Expect to see a lot more pre-snap motion than utilized under Schottenheimer as well, including plenty of jet motion with handoffs to receivers on fly sweeps and play fakes serving as eye candy for the defense to help scheme receivers open in space.
As far as formations go, the Rams have cut their teeth with simplicity to eliminate predictability and force defenders to play disciplined. They will run a bevy of staple plays out of a handful of sets, with the offensive line up blocking the same on runs as play action passes. Tight ends and receivers will also be used interchangeably, deployed in stack and bunch formations in 11 and 12 personnel coupled with pre-snap motion.
Unfortunately, the Seahawks know these tactics all too well, as the Rams beat them in five of the past seven games and typically have held their own offensively against Carroll's squads. Now, with Waldron on board and signed away from their bitter rivals, they will aim to blend some of those principles into their own attack with hopes of elevating Wilson's play to the next level and returning the offense to early 2020 form.