Tuesday night reports emerged that the Seattle Seahawks were expected to hire Los Angeles Rams Passing Game Coordinator Shane Waldron as the new offensive coordinator to replace Brian Schottenheimer. It had been a long two weeks for many fans who were clued in to every name linked the team and rode the roller coaster of emotions up and down. Assuming the Hawks will indeed hire Waldron, it opens up a whole host of questions regarding the future of the Seattle offense for 2021, so here are just a few of those.
What will happen with the offensive line?
This is a huge question, and while the answer is important, perhaps more importantly, how the team addresses its personnel needs along the offensive line in the coming weeks could shed significant light on how the team plans to run the ball in 2020. Under Brian Schottenheimer, offensive line coach Mike Solari had assembled a group of massive, mauling offensive linemen, particularly on the interior.
However, while huge, many of the offensive linemen who manned the interior of the Seattle offensive line in recent seasons were not the most agile off individuals. Whether one wants to look at D.J. Fluker, Mike Iupati, Jordan Simmons, Kyle Fuller or Damien Lewis, all the linemen Solari brought in were large and powerful. That said, they were not exactly explosive or fleet of foot, which one might initially worry could impede Waldron if his goal is to utilize a wide zone based running scheme like Sean McVay does.
This is not to be all doom and gloom on the subject, as the Hawks certainly have the foundation of a line that can play in a wide zone system in Duane Brown, Brandon Shell, Phil Haynes and Lewis. However, how they look to address depth on the offensive line for 2021 during the offseason could shed light on how the offense plans to function going forward.
The Rams are a running team, so Seattle is going to keep running, right?
One of the big things that observers rapidly brought up about the Rams is that their offense is built around the run game, and in particular that Los Angeles was near the bottom of the league in pass frequency during Waldron’s tenure.
The one thing anyone could predict with Seattle's OC search: Pete Carroll's pick would be no stranger to run-oriented offenses. Carroll's history and comments about needing to run more made that a given. Over Waldron's four seasons with the Rams, they were 25th in dropback rate.— Brady Henderson (@BradyHenderson) January 27, 2021
Dropback rate, though, can be misleading. Just as the stats that show the playoff teams are often near the top of the league in rushing, it’s often a result of the fact that the playoff teams run a lot because they are winning. The same is true for the Rams during Waldron’s four seasons with the team, as during neutral situations (first and second down with outcome of the game in doubt), the Rams were the fifth most pass happy team in the league.
Where exactly the Seahawks fall in that category next year will be interesting. It’s no secret that Pete Carroll would seem to prefer to be closer to the bottom of the list, while head chef Russell Wilson appears to prefer to be closer to the top. Fans and observers can speculate all they want, and it’s a certainty that they will do so over the next seven and a half months, but nobody outside the VMAC is likely to have much of a clue until September 12.
What does this mean for the wide receivers?
Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf aren’t likely to be going anywhere, and should man the top two spots in 2021. However, behind them is where things will get interesting. There have been flashes from David Moore and Phillip Dorsett have both flashed at times in their careers, but neither has extensive practice or game experience as a wideout in the West Coast Offense. That is important because of one fact that sets West Coast Offense apart from the Air Coryell or Erhardt-Perkins offense in which Dorsett and Moore have played during their careers.
Digging into the full meaning of that is an article entirely unto itself, and that will be forthcoming at some point. However, in the meantime it is sufficient to say that when discussing the options at the third wide receiver spot in the offseason, the team could focus on free agents who have spent time playing in the West Coast Offense. It’s certainly no guarantee that Moore or Dorsett will be out the door, but it won’t be a surprise if Waldron looks to bring in a player more familiar with McVay’s system.
Whether that means a return for former Seahawks receiver Paul Richardson, bringing Josh Reynolds along from the Rams or dipping into restricted free agency to pursue Byron Pringle of the Kansas City Chiefs remains to be seen.
There will, of course, be significantly more questions for fans and observers in the coming weeks and months. How the team addresses certain personnel questions could go a long way towards answering what the offense might look like on the field next season.