BY Art Thiel 11:34PM 01/26/2021

Thiel: Seahawks set to hire Rams assistant for OC

Pete Carroll finally settles on Shane Waldron, an understudy with coach Sean McVay in LA, to succeed Brian Schottenheimer. Now we await word from Russell Wilson.

Shane Waldron has worked under Rams coach Sean McVay for four seasons. / rams.com

The Seahawks certainly haven’t beaten the Rams much. So they are taking one to join them.

Shane Waldron, for the past three seasons the passing game coordinator with Seattle’s nemesis under head coach Sean McVay, but has never been an NFL offensive coordinator, reportedly has been hired by coach Pete Carroll to replace Brian Schottenheimer.

Waldron is 41. Carroll is 69. Just in case you were wondering whether Carroll was in a mood to take on play-call debates from crustier ex-NFL head coaches Doug Pederson (sitting out the season) or Anthony Lynn (hired for the OC job in Detroit), the answer is no.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter broke the news Tuesday night.

Carroll cited “philosophical differences” for jettisoning Schottenheimer in the wake of the 30-20 home loss that made for a one-and-done postseason, thanks primarily to an 11-for-27 passing performance by QB Russell Wilson, his worst playoff game.

Since McVay is the Rams OC/playcaller, it’s hard to know Waldron’s philosophy. Maybe that’s the point — Carroll will hand him one: Run, throw short, be very careful, then throw deep.

A native of Portland and a tight end and long snapper at Division III Tufts University outside of Boston, Waldron has been coaching in the NFL for seven seasons, including McVay’s four-year tenure in LA, in which the Rams are 6-3 against Seattle.

Waldron started as tight ends coach, then became pass-game boss when Matt LaFleur left for the Tennessee Titans, then the Green Bay Packers.

Since Waldron was down the chain of command, it’s hard to attribute much of the Rams’ success to him. He certainly had an intense dose of McVay’s innovative work with multiple motions, and the naked-boot rollouts by QB Jared Goff that made an average NFL quarterback look . . . better. The Rams did things Carroll had to like: their run-to-pass ratio was 56 percent, seventh-most in the NFL  (Seattle was 18th).

The big question is, of course, what does Wilson think? Slightly bigger question: Did Carroll engage Wilson in the selection?

Based on his Zoom post-mortem with reporters two weeks ago, that’s what the Wilson seemed to think would happen.

“I’m super excited about being in the mix,” he said. “Going into the 10th year in my career, it’s a critical time. The next 10 years are super critical for everybody involved, the whole organization including myself as a player, and the legacy that I want to leave. It’s vital, it’s critical, it’s super-significant that I’m a part of that process. Coach and I have definitely been talking about it.

“As a quarterback, it’s imperative to my career, and how far I want to go as a player. That’s something I’m really dedicated to having those conversations and communicate all that.”

Wilson did not agree with Carroll’s decision to pop Schottenheimer. Nor was he happy about the clamps applied to the playcalling after turnovers began spoiling the franchise’s best-ever 5-0 start, in which Wilson was allowed to go bombs-away. Post-season, Carroll was clear that his priority was to run “more and better.”

For his part, Wilson sounded as if he wanted more boom than rumble in a new OC.

“Someone who is extremely passionate about the game and creative as well,” Wilson said. “Someone who knows how to find every guy’s strength, every guy in that huddle, including myself. That’s such an incredible part to this game. What’s important is for us to be one of the most explosive offenses in football, for us to be able to throw the ball extremely well and for us to be able to run the ball as well. For us to have the up-tempo game.”

It appeared that things between Schottenheimer and Carroll came to a head in the fourth quarter of the wild-card game. Down 23-13, the Seahawks were prepared to go for it on fourth-and-1 at midfield. But they were called for a false start as the 40-second play clock ran out, despite having an injury pause to discuss strategy.

The Seahawks hadn’t converted a third down until the middle of the third quarter, and finished the game 2-for-14, so tension likely was high. Carroll said he “got involved” in the call, which is the head coach’s prerogative. But the over-rule was so late that the change messed up the snap timing.  The Seahawks then punted away the final real chance to stay in the game.

Since we haven’t heard from Schottenheimer, and Wilson wouldn’t point a finger, we don’t know exactly what transpired. What is known that beating the Rams’ defense is hard enough without coaches squabbling over plays as the clock dwindles.

That isn’t Waldron’s problem. What he has to worry about is getting the side-eye from Wilson, who sees a rookie NFL playcaller succeeding his pal who helped set the franchise single-season record for points.

But if you’re scoring the off-season at home, so far it’s Seahawks 1, Rams 0.


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YourThoughts

  • jafabian

    Curious that the Hawks would go the Rams route right after jettisoning Schotty who came from the Rams system as well. If it was truly philosophical differences with Brian than you’d think that Waldron would share some of those same philosophie since both served under Sean McVay. We’ll see.

    My guess was that either Anthony Lynn or Joe Lombardi we’re going to be hired. Early on it seemed that the Hawks wanted an OC with head coaching experience which Lynn had. He also had the best rushing offense in 2016 while at Buffalo and had a top 10 ranked passing game the past 2 seasons in SD. Lombardi has been the OC in Detroit and SD plus went to high school at Seattle Prep. Is it possible that Waldron was the least expensive option? Or wanting to one up a division rival that is seemingly in transition? Also Lynn, Lombardi or other candidates like Adam Gase and Doug Pederson might be more inclined to question Pete Carroll or be independent from him more that what Coach Carroll would like, such as going for it on 4th down and then having communication issues.

    IMO the Hawks would be better served to advance to the next level by having an OC on the same level as New England’s Josh McDaniels and I don’t see Waldron being mentioned with McDaniels in the same breath. Again, we’ll see if this hire gets the club to the next level if not a return to the Super Bowl. With both the Sounders and Storm both coming off of successful playoff campaigns and the debut of the Kraken around the corner first round flame-outs won’t be enough to remain competitive for Seattle’s sports dollars.

    • art thiel

      I don’t think the Seahawks’ hegemony in Seattle sports is in imminent peril. Nine playoffs in 11 years in so balanced a league tends to speak well of the regard in which they are held.

      In Waldron, Carroll made an out-of-the-box hire from a coaching stable known for playcalling innovation. It worked well enough to get them to a Super Bowl with an average QB. I do agree that Carroll might have benefited from a more experienced voice in the headset. But what he and the rest of us have seen from the Rams offense (remenber 42-7, the worst home loss in the Carroll era?) suggests Sean McVay’s understudy might be ready to take the stage.

  • ll9956

    It’s good that you discussed the confusion that cost the Hawks a chance to make a first down on fourth and one, Art. I believe this was a critical juncture in that game. It was commendable that Carroll took the blame for messing up the clock management. However that was the second clock management mess-up in two closely spaced games that were due to Carroll. Why should this be a major contributing cause for Schottenheimer to lose his job? I’m not surprised that Russell is not thrilled with his decision. Bottom line: Schottenheimer will land on his feet somewhere and achieve success.

    • art thiel

      Carroll tends to assume blame in all instances because he can handle the scrutiny, and gains nothing by finger-pointing publicly toward lessers. We may never know who said what in the headsets. And we don’t know yet whether Wilson is disappointed. I imagine he liked the productivity of the Rams offense the past four years.

  • Alan Harrison

    Feels like a Pete Carroll first round draft pick. Someone nobody thought was the guy because only Pete thought he was the guy. It could work out. It could be Malik McDowell. Probably somewhere in the middle.

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    • Fu Bar

      Yep, at least Carroll is consistent in his inconsistency; another third round player with a first round pick. He found his “yes man”. His next inconsistency: no O-line picks this year. In other words, Carroll is full of it when he speaks of the importance of being able to run the ball. He will continue paying only “Blue Light Special” prices to protect RW and open holes to run. If, by some miracle, he does choose to use the 60th pick on the O-line, it will be for a player generally considered the 120th talent available. Not intelligence, just more of the same arrogance.

      • art thiel

        When a team has two of the game’s highest-paid players, payroll flexibility diminishes. So it’s not a matter of investing more in the O-line; the Seahawks have dedicated a lot of draft capital. They just haven’t produced a long-termer until Lewis. And it’s that way for most NFL teams in an era when few players learn run-first blocking in college.

        The Seahawks were the NFL’s No. 1 rushing team in 2018. Did we hear from you then?

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    • art thiel

      Waldron had interviews the previous season for promotions, including for head coach. The world of younger NFL assistant coaches is hard to judge from outside, particularly with the Rams and their outsize boy-genius at the top. But the play designs by the Rams the past four years have left Seahawks defenders gasping. And they’ve also been a top-tier rushing team, which should sate Carroll’s compulsion.

  • Husky73

    He’s a Jumbo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • art thiel

      Yes, a Tufts Jumbo. I have never written that sentence before. It’s a good day.

  • 1coolguy

    I saw a lot of formations, movement and sets when we played the Rams – I hope Pete allows him to actually coach and implement same. That last game was like Schott was using a HS playbook – just nothing, and no adjustments.

    • art thiel

      The Rams actually use fewer formations than many, but they do so many things out of them — WRs as RBs, RBs as wideouts, naked boots to make an average quarterback better, great YAC among receivers.

  • woofer

    “But if you’re scoring the off-season at home, so far it’s Seahawks 1, Rams 0.”

    This assumes that LA will actually miss him.

    He’s known as a “communicator”. Russ should at least like that. For awhile. And he knows how to coach tight ends. Methinks Carroll had too much of a tight end to bring in a first tier talent. It’s hard to imagine how this move qualifies as an upgrade.

    • art thiel

      It’s an upgrade if you think the Rams’ offense mostly befuddled and bewildered the Seahawks defense the past four years. Dunno how much was McVay and how much was Waldron, but Waldron would have to have come away with a deep understanding of how to surprise a defense. You may have noticed that wasn’t happening with the Seahawks.

      • woofer

        Well, we are all dog-paddling in the murky waters of pure speculation here, and you are offering up the optimistic spin. I certainly hope you are right. My pessimism is partly based on the hunch that the most qualified potential candidate, Doug Pederson, walked away to “spend more time with his family” because he didn’t get the requisite message of support from Carroll for installing a more innovative offense.