Note: Taking advantage of the sun and a slightly sleepier sports-news portion of the calendar, I am taking a break until Tuesday. But I will respond to the literary hooligans, miscreants and ne’er-do-wells in the comments section.
For an assistant coach getting his first NFL coordinator’s job, Shane Waldron abruptly has become nearly mythic, before he’s even had a chance to butcher his first third-down call.
Waldron’s gauzy appearance as a fixer/healer/protector for the Seahawks has somehow morphed him into some sort of superhero fit the next episode in the Star Wars cinematic saga.
After a clash with Obi Wan Carrolli, Russ Skywalker turns briefly to the dark side before encountering Jedi master Dronne Wal, who, in his escape from the dying, sun-scorched planet Ramadama, brings with him the spiritual sorcery required to subdue the most feared force in the universe, Aaro Donaldian.
Coming to a theater near you in September (are there still theaters?).
No one can know until then whether Waldron’s time as an assistant with the Rams, Washington Football Team and Patriots has prepared him to be a master or a specter, particularly in view of the fact that fans and maybe some players are wishing so hard for him to be the answer. For sure, they don’t want another three months of awkward public silence between Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson.
Now that no-contact practices have concluded, offering little in the way of hard evidence, Seahawks fans for the next six weeks are left with only the words of players and coaches.
They believe the football force is with Waldron. Especially the guy that hired him.
“His command of the entire notebook, and his sense for creating the system, (makes it) really accessible to the players,” Carroll said after three days of mini-camp wrapped up Thursday. “We can do a ton of stuff, but they’re understanding the principles and continuity of how things fit together.
“Run game, pass game, perimeter game, tempo . . . he knows it well.”
For critics of Carroll’s fitful intrusions into playcalling, he said something that may cause swoons:
“I have not gotten in his way.”
Easy to say in June.
Then again, when WR Tyler Lockett calls the innovations “brilliant,” Carroll might be prevented by players from countermanding Waldron.
“It’s very different than the six years that I’ve been here,” Lockett said. “I think we have more freedom to do a lot of stuff. I think we’ve given him the freedom to kind of be who he’s always been, and we’ve allowed ourselves to learn, to be able to sit down and say, ‘You teach us, what is it that we’re missing? What is it that we need to know?'”
The main guy who has to buy into Yoda from Portland is Wilson, particularly after his three-month pout.
He’s bought in.
“I’m excited; I know Shane’s excited too,” he said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun . . . I wouldn’t say it’s a massive departure. We have a lot of the core concepts and things that we’ve done over the years that have been extremely, extremely successful.
“I think that we also have some nuances across the board that really challenge the defense — using the whole field, expanding the offense and using everybody with different formations, different looks and different tempos.”
Carroll offered a walk-off point Thursday, referring to a basic metric of offensive efficiency, third-down conversions, as a marker by which to judge improvement.
“The area of the game that (the changes) will make the most difference will be our third- down game,” he said. “If we can be really good on third down to stay on the field, and be around 50 percent, we’re gonna be really hard to deal with. What I like about it is, we’ve got guys to go to.”
The Seahawks last season were 27th in the NFL in third-down conversions at 38.6 percent, slightly worse than the 40.2 in 2019. Green Bay led the NFL in 2020 at 51 percent. In the 30-20 playoff loss to the Rams, the Seahawks were 2-for-14.
Given that the five teams below Seattle (Eagles, Giants, Bengals, Jets, Bears) had a combined record of 24-54-1, it is astonishing that the Seahawks finished 12-4 with a franchise-record 459 points — without any scores from the defense or special teams.
The bulk of the points came early in the season, before defenses figured out how to slow Lockett and DK Metcalf. Once they did, the Seahawks had no effective counter-measures.
This season on paper seems different. So much so that Carroll seemed to catch himself getting too giddy.
“This seems easier than it was in the past,” he said. “A really important coach said a long time ago, it’s not how many things that you can do, it’s how many things you can do well. We have to be careful of trying to do too much.”
Nah. That’s so 2020. Off with the masks. On with the light-saber show.