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What Shane Waldron’s done this year will get him a phone call

Atlanta Falcons v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Jane Gershovich/Getty Images

We didn’t know it, but Shane Waldron arrived during the breakup season of Hall of Fame and longtime elite quarterback. Turmoil and questions followed his offense - and Russell Wilson - throughout the season and well into the beginning of this year.

Now, halfway through an unbelievable campaign, the Seattle Seahawks have the third-ranked offense by DVOA, powered by two rookie tackles, a rookie running back, and a nine-year backup quarterback.

The revelation of Geno Smith is a layer deeper than just that he’s good or got better and nobody noticed except the Seahawks. Russell Wilson has granted us a clearer window than we ever imagined into the difference between a quarterback who freestyles and a quarterback who is willing to do whatever the coordinator asks.

That’s not a slight against Geno Smith. I truly believe his success this season has been in trusting the primary objective of the Shane Waldron offense, coupled with the talent necessary to execute it incredibly well.

That offense, among other things, continues to set everyone up for the most success.

When Waldron arrived to Seattle a couple of years ago, the offensive players immediately praised his football smarts in the early offseason. In particular, they said it was intricate in the best way possible. The quarterback who’s no longer here called Shane Waldron a wizard.

Tyler Lockett, one of the most established and savvy receivers in today’s NFL, had more to expand:

The more sophisticated that you become in this offense, the more you’re able to understand how to 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 in a certain amount of time, you kind of have free range to play with it a little bit.

This has finally played out in 2022. What the Seahawks are currently accomplishing is more fun than any would have dared dream six months ago.

It’s also on pace for a franchise record, in a big way.

The 2022 Seahawks currently move the ball at 6.26 yards per play. That is good. In fact, it’s the best it’s ever been.

By nearly half a yard over young Russell Wilson, prime Marshawn Lynch, and a Super Bowl team, the early-season 4-wins-in-Vegas Seattle offense is first in franchise history.

That will get some phone calls.

We cover a team with perhaps the strongest active example of what makes a successful coach, and it happens to be something with which I agree. Being a good coordinator does not make a good coach. Even football knowledge, which is absolutely necessary, is not an end-all-be-all. In fact as far as intricate in-game decisions, Pete’s among the worst to ever do it, if you want to talk about timeouts, challenge flags, and going for it on fourth down.

But Pete is in rarefied air in terms of bringing the best out of his players. Lots of players. For decades. Part of his core is in coaching holistically, as he’s spoken for over ten years now about his care for the entire person.

I really liked Shane Waldron’s initial conference with the media following his successful interview with the Seahawks. He was brilliant with football concepts of course, and refreshingly human with the reporters.

But not two minutes in he said something that must surely have been an early connection with Carroll’s mindset.

This is a relationship driven business, and there’s great friends and great people that you meet along the way. No one really goes at this alone, and Sean McVay, the things he’s done for me, being a colleague, being a mentor, and really providing me a platform to grow and develop in this business has been so instrumental in leading me to this opportunity.

It’s a small example, but Waldron has generally communicated similar values. He understands the people priority that Carroll holds as such an integral part of his coaching philosophy.

And so.

As I said earlier, being a good coordinator does not make someone a good coach. It does tend to grant plenty of interview calls, however.

Shane Waldron should not pick up the phone.

Pete Carroll’s contract is up in 2025, and he’ll be 75 years old. I have no reservations whatsoever about Carroll’s ability to coach for as long as he bloody well likes; he’s not going to age eating plants and running sidelines as much as he does. But I also have no idea what Carroll wants to do at the end of this deal.

Should he feel like he’s accomplished what he set out to do, I’d advocate - strongly - for an internal regime change for the Seattle Seahawks. Clint Hurtt may or may not be an option here; but this piece isn’t about him.

In 2026 this offense will be riding the 5th year of Geno Smith’s NFL dominance; or they’ll be squarely prepared to transition to their future highly-drafted QB, if they haven’t already. They’ve got offensive linemen, they’ve got Kenneth Walker if they extend him before his option.

But more importantly they’ve got the potential to move from the greatest coach of this franchise’s history, to someone who has grown under (and seems aligned with) Pete Carroll’s philosophy of caring.

Regardless, Waldron will get noticed. He’s doing too good of a job not to.