OC Waldron: Approach ‘in alignment’ with Carroll

SEATTLE — During his introductory news conference Tuesday, new Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator Shane Waldron sounded a lot like the head coach who just hired him.

He said his offensive approach starts with the belief that it’s “all about the ball,” a go-to phrase of Pete Carroll’s that emphasizes the importance of winning the turnover battle. He made several mentions of his desire for offensive balance and one about playing complementary football, two more Carroll favorites.

It’s no wonder the Seahawks tabbed Waldron to replace Brian Schottenheimer, whose clashing with Carroll led the team to announce last month that he would not return after three seasons because of “philosophical differences.”

“That was really, in my opinion, what was so natural about the interview process, was that there was so much philosophical alignment between he and I,” Waldron said. “I had mentioned this to him: It wasn’t like an interview where you’re trying to sell yourself to win the job in any sort of sales pitch. It was a conversation, and it was a football discussion that had so many things in alignment that it felt just like a natural progression as we got to know each other and talk through things. So, so many of those things were just naturally in alignment, and that’s where I think I felt really good about the process.”

As much as Carroll and Waldron found themselves on the same page as they spoke via phone, FaceTime and Zoom over the course of several days, Carroll didn’t arrive at his decision alone. Quarterback Russell Wilson made it clear he wanted to be involved in the hiring process — and he was. A source told ESPN that Waldron was among the candidates Wilson was most fond of during the two-week search and that the quarterback was excited over the hire.

Jake Heaps, Wilson’s personal quarterback coach and a co-host on 710 ESPN Seattle, called Waldron the “perfect mesh” of what Carroll and Wilson want in their new OC.

“I had the great chance to get to know him as a person,” Waldron said of his conversations with Wilson both during the interview process and since. “[We] talked a lot about our families and just really getting to know each other more as people because I do think the football part of it, that’s going to be an important part of it when the time is right, but our conversations really have centered around just who we are as people because you’re in a room with some guys for a lot of hours every day when that season gets rolling. … He seems like he has this unrelenting desire to be better, to be the best that he can be, so I think when we started talking about those things, that’s where it was some really fun conversations.”

Waldron’s coaching career has included college stints at Notre Dame and UMass, one year in the UFL and NFL jobs with the New England Patriots and Washington Football Team before his four-year run with the Los Angeles Rams. He said he took things from each stop to build an offensive philosophy centered around three things: protecting the ball, fundamentals and balance.

“I think the great part about Russell Wilson within this system is he does have an ability to do a lot of different things, and just because I’m saying that it’s a balanced attack doesn’t mean that that’s a conservative attack,” he said. “I don’t ever want to get that confused.”

What wasn’t clear from Waldron’s first comments to Seattle-area reports was how much of the Seahawks’ offense will be what he brings in versus what they were already doing.

“I have a core set of beliefs that I’m going to stick to, but we’re going to build this thing together,” he said. “I think that the one thing with Russell and with the rest of the players that are on this team, they have a great foundation and they have won a lot of football games together, so will there be parts of stuff that carries over? Absolutely, because there’s been some great things they’ve done in the past.”

Waldron called Sean McVay a friend and mentor while saying the Rams’ head coach has been instrumental in helping him get to where he’s gotten. Waldron spent the past three seasons as Los Angeles’ passing-game coordinator and said he wore various hats in that role, including being responsible for certain situational aspects of games, helping with game-planning and being on the headsets with McVay. Waldron also held the title of QB coach in 2019.

One thing he didn’t do: call plays. McVay handled those duties with the Rams. Waldron has not done so in college or the NFL, at least not in an actual game.

“It’s a great challenge, and it’s a challenge that I’ve been preparing for my whole life,” he said. “So I think it’s one of those things that I’m ready to get going with and excited to attack that opportunity. I’ve learned a ton from Sean along the way. With that play-calling experience, he’s allowed me the opportunity to do it in different settings, whether it’s the preseason or scrimmages or practices. So I’ve had a little hand in it that way knowing that’s obviously not the real deal and there is going to be that opportunity here coming up.

“I’m a guy that likes to prepare. I want to be organized, I want to have that really consistent approach, and in my mind, that preparation began a long time ago and I can’t wait for this chance to go ahead and do it.”

Waldron is bringing one assistant with him from Los Angeles in Andy Dickerson, who will be Seattle’s run-game coordinator. That position was vacant with Brennan Carroll leaving Seattle’s staff to be the offensive coordinator at the University of Arizona. Waldron said that when Carroll asked him if he wanted to bring anyone with him who could help with the transition, his first thought was Dickerson, who spent nine seasons as the Rams’ assistant offensive-line coach. He and Waldron were college teammates at Tufts University.

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