Of more interest than Friday afternoon’s official announcement of Shane Waldron to succeed Brian Schottenheimer as offensive coordinator was the filling of a second Seahawks coaching vacancy.
Waldron’s former college teammate and longtime friend, Andy Dickerson, was hired to be running game coordinator. Dickerson also was an assistant coach with the Rams, in fact the longest tenured (nine years) of head coach Sean McVay’s staff.
So Pete Carroll poached a tandem from the rival that has made the Seattle coach’s professional life miserable.
Carroll could pay no higher tribute to McVay.
Other than getting up in his grill and asking, “What’s your deal?”
That salute belongs forever to ex-49ers coach and known Carroll denier Jim Harbaugh. But LA ending the Seahawks’ playoff ambitions at one game with a clinical 30-20 defeat Jan. 9, coupled with the 42-7 defeat in 2017 that was the worst in Carroll’s Seattle tenure, have ratcheted up the tension.
I’m not saying the Rams rivalry has reached Defcon Harbaugh level yet. The squints are, however, approaching a Clint Eastwood spaghetti Western.
But beyond the coach-poach drama, there was also some intrigue in the content of the club’s posting of the news on the team site.
The first statistic cited in the release about the hire of two offensive coaches was sacks, and the lack thereof in their time together in LA, where Dickerson was assistant O-line coach and Waldron the passing game coordinator.
Not point totals, nor passing yardage, nor run frequency. But infrequency of sacks.
That’s because the most sacred commandment in the Book of First Carrollians (loosely translated from Aramaic) is, “Thou shall not soil thy undergarments.”
Sacks. Fumbles. Interceptions. Penalties. Those sorts of things.
Curiously, religion scholars believe the commandment does not address mismanaged fourth downs.
But we digress.
Here is the text under discussion:
Since McVay took over in 2017, the Rams have been in the top 10 in the NFL for fewest sacks allowed for four straight years, including in 2019 when they gave up a league-low 22 sacks, and last season when they allowed 25, tied for sixth fewest.
As Seahawks followers know, sacks have been a bane for the Seahawks in the Russell Wilson years. This year’s total of 47 was tied for fourth-most in the NFL, and four shy of his single-season high in 2018. Wilson now has 394, already 20th on the NFL’s career list in only nine seasons.
The second element of the game mentioned in the release was rushing, not passing.
The Rams also had a top 10 rushing attack three of the past four years, including last season when they ranked 10th, averaging 126.1 rushing yards per game despite not having a running back rush for more than 625 yards for the season.
The passing game was not addressed. That’s the part that foundered in the second half of the season and was decimated in the playoff loss, with 11 completions. Yet thunderous passing numbers are what Wilson craves for his much-discussed bid to be the greatest ever.
Without trying to divine too much from the first reading of the scroll (we have yet to Zoom), the emphases seem to direct that Waldron and Dickerson improve pass protection by upgrading schemes, then make a top-10 running game with multiple backs who will force defenses to abandon the two-high-safety scheme that Wilson, Schottenheimer, et al, never solved.
Of Waldron, 41, Carroll said in the release, “His creative and competitive approach to the game will bring out the best in our players and coaches. Shane also brings great knowledge and insight about our division. His vision for the future, along with the caliber of players on our offense, made him a must get for us.”
Regarding Dickerson, 39, who takes over for the departed Brennan Carroll, Pete’s son, who’s now the offensive coordinator at the University of Arizona, Carroll said, “He has worked with Shane for many years and that continuity will be an integral factor in the transition process. They, together with our staff, will work to capture the many strengths we have developed over the years and expand the explosive ability that Russell Wilson and crew have afforded us.”
Good to see Wilson got a mention.
The facts that Waldron and Dickerson have had time and success together, including more Super Bowl appearances (one each) than most of the Seahawks, and know the locations of the Rams’ vulnerabilities, speaks well for their hires. It also means that on fourth-and-short situations in 2021, there will be two voices instead of one in Carroll’s headset yelling, “We have a great play! Go for it!”
What remains to be seen is whether the GM John Schneider can upgrade the talent levels among the O-line and tight ends to Rams-like levels. The slow erosion of the units’ contributions in the second half were little-acknowledged factors in the offense’s downfall. Looking at the talent levels and schemes of the NFL’s final four teams, the Seahawks weren’t a match.
Wilson may yet cook again. But if a feast instead of a snack is sought, a sous chef, a salad-maker and a pastry chef need to be included, and folded in a flashy, McVay-style presentation.
Beating McVay at his own game would be the highest compliment of all.