RENTON, WA - Heading into the final day of the team's offseason program, little remains known about the Seahawks' offense under new coordinator Shane Waldron. But over the past few weeks, players and coaches have raved about the play caller and in the process left a trail of bread crumbs hinting at what to expect.
Receiver DK Metcalf called the scheme "intricate," citing vastly different route combinations than utilized under former coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. Quarterback Russell Wilson cited the system as "super complex," referencing the plethora of personnel groupings and pre-snap motion Seattle will deploy. Coach Pete Carroll has indicated on numerous occasions Waldron's sophisticated offense is what drew him to hire him away from the Rams to begin with.
Following Wednesday's second minicamp workout, while he avoided giving away too much, receiver Tyler Lockett became the latest Seahawk to provide additional insight on the "brilliant" Waldron's attack, saying the new playbook will have substantial changes from the ones he has previously played in under Schottenheimer and Darrell Bevell.
“When I think of his offense I think we have more freedom to do a lot of stuff. I mean, it’s very different than the six years that I’ve been here,” Lockett told reporters.
From a receiver perspective, Lockett indicated Waldron wants to maximize his player's strengths within the confines of the scheme. While they won't be able to do whatever they want on the field necessarily, they will have more flexibility in regard to how they run routes compared to other systems.
"With the offense that Shane brings in, I think it brings us more freedom. More freedom to kind of be able to be the receivers that we can be," Lockett elaborated. "We got free range to do a lot of stuff, not saying that we could just go out there and do whatever we want, but the more and more sophisticated that you become in this offense, the more you’re able to understand how you can switch your feet, how not to switch your feet, how to add an extra step, how not to add an extra step, rather than always just having to get to a certain point at this certain amount of time, you kind of have free range to play with it a little bit.”
Along with allowing more freedom for receivers and skill players, Lockett said Waldron has prioritized tempo, specifically employing a "faster huddle."
What does this entail? As Lockett pointed out, full plays are still being called, but rather than staying in the huddle, players are listening for the call and quickly hurrying up to the line of scrimmage. While there's been minimal scrimmaging during OTAs and minicamp, such pacing has been evident on the practice field this month.
After struggling at times last year breaking the huddle late and being forced to burn timeouts with the play clock winding down, including on a critical fourth down in a wild card loss to the Rams last January, it's a welcomed changeup that Wilson pushed for as the team pursued a new coordinator. Lockett doesn't think it will be much of an adjustment, but the key will be communicating to ensure they avoid potential miscues that could come with speeding things up.
"There's a lot of plays that we have to do tempo, so you just gotta be able to listen clearly because you can easily get caught up in hearing the wrong thing," Lockett remarked. "So when it comes to us as an offense, if there's anything I think we need to know, it's that we have to be able to communicate."
"If there's anything I'm learning with this offense, it's that the more and more you communicate and the more and more that you talk, the more and more you guys are going to be on the same page and be successful."
Coming from Los Angeles where he learned under coach Sean McVay, Waldron's scheme was expected to be predicated more on the quick passing game than his predecessors. Like tempo, Wilson and Carroll hoped to improve upon this area with a new play caller entering the fold, especially after Seattle's offense sputtered down the stretch last year.
But while Waldron's arrival will likely coincide with more emphasis on a quick, rhythmic passing game and creating yardage after the catch, Lockett doesn't expect him to try and reinvent the wheel either. Given their personnel with him, Metcalf, and speedy rookie D'Wayne Eskridge, the Seahawks will still take their downfield shots as they always have.
Unlike the second half of the 2020 season, however, Lockett believes the Seahawks will be better equipped to make necessary adjustments and take what opposing defenses give them, making their offense as a whole more efficient and consequently far more difficult to stop.
"Truth be told, the explosives part of it is not going to change. It's just the fact we're gonna learn how to be a lot more balanced to where whatever teams give us, that's what we're gonna take," Lockett said. "Teams decide to play us deep, then we're gonna take everything short and we're gonna be able to run our offense all the way down the field and control the clock. Teams try to take away the short stuff, we're gonna go deep."
"At the end of the day, we're just learning how to build up our offense as a whole to where we don't have to depend on one thing, but we can be able to depend on different types of phases of our offense... We're not gonna be greedy, we're not gonna go out there and force things to happen, we're just gonna naturally let the game come to us."
It's still early and until Seattle takes the field for an actual game in August, Waldron and his scheme will be shrouded in mystery. As a first-time NFL play caller, time will tell if he has what it takes to be successful and the pressure will be on him to deliver once the regular season begins.
But based on what players have said, there's an obvious excitement in the air revolving around the new coordinator and how his presence could impact the team. If he's able to incorporate tempo and mix in a more effective quick passing game while playing to the strengths of his plethora of stars, an already productive Seahawks offense could take the jump to the next level, dramatically improving their championship prospects.