SEATTLE — The Seattle Seahawks are planning to hire Los Angeles Rams passing game coordinator Shane Waldron as their new offensive coordinator, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Waldron has not called plays in any of his seven seasons as an NFL assistant. He spent the past four seasons with the Rams, having followed coach Sean McVay to Los Angeles from the Washington Football Team.
“He’s a phenomenal coach,” McVay said of Waldron in 2018, according to The Detroit News. “He’s a great communicator. He’s got a rare ability to authentically and genuinely connect with not only coaches, but the players and be able to correct in a manner that doesn’t make guys’ guards come up. It’s all about problem solving and doing it together. He’s obviously done a phenomenal job, really mainly as a leader for our offense, not exclusively to just being a pass-game coordinator.”
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll cast a wide net and took his time in his search to replace Brian Schottenheimer while listening to input from quarterback Russell Wilson along the way. Wilson made it clear both to the team and to reporters that he wanted his voice heard in the search — and it was. Wilson’s personal quarterback coach, Jake Heaps, tweeted his excitement over Schefter’s report that Waldron was the pick.
After hiring Schottenheimer in 2018 in part because he wanted a quarterback-centric coordinator, Carroll interviewed candidates both with and without QB backgrounds this time, with former Los Angeles Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn and Las Vegas Raiders running backs coach Kirby Wilson among those in the latter category.
Among other assistants the Seahawks had interest in were quarterbacks coaches Ken Dorsey (Buffalo Bills) and Joe Lombardi (New Orleans Saints), according to Schefter. Lombardi (Chargers) and Lynn (Detroit Lions) took OC jobs elsewhere.
In the end, Carroll plucked from the McVay tree — and a division rival — for his fourth offensive coordinator since he was hired by Seattle in 2010, and third since the Seahawks drafted Wilson in 2012.
Waldron worked with McVay in Washington in 2016 as an offensive quality control coach. He broke into the NFL as an operations intern with the New England Patriots in 2002. In his second stint with New England following three seasons as a graduate assistant at Notre Dame, Waldron was an offensive quality control coach in 2008 and then tight ends coach in 2009. Before Washington, he spent four seasons at UMass (tight ends, offensive line), one with the UFL’s Hartford Colonials (wide receivers) and one as a high school offensive coordinator in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Waldron held an additional title of quarterbacks coach with the Rams in 2019. They hired Kevin O’Connell as offensive coordinator last January instead of promoting Waldron or run-game coordinator Aaron Kromer to that role.
Waldron is a native of Portland, Oregon, and a 2002 graduate of Tufts University, where he was a tight end and long-snapper.
The Seahawks set a franchise record for points in 2020, Schottenheimer’s third season as their coordinator, but most of that success came early in the season before Wilson & Co. hit a wall midyear. That regression continued in the Seahawks’ 30-20 wild-card loss to the Rams, which marked the fifth time they failed to advance past the divisional round in as many trips to the playoffs since their back-to-back Super Bowl appearances.
The Seahawks announced on Jan. 12 they were “parting ways” with Schottenheimer, citing philosophical differences.
In explaining his team’s offensive regression, Carroll stressed the importance of running the ball to set up Seattle’s deep passing game, which opponents began taking away later in the season. That was an obvious clue as to one thing Carroll would be looking for in a new coordinator: someone with a background in a run-oriented offense. Over Waldron’s four seasons in Los Angeles, the Rams ranked 25th in dropback rate.
One thing that remains to be seen is how much of McVay’s system Waldron will bring with him to Seattle. The Seahawks did not overhaul their offense the last time they changed coordinators, keeping roughly 70% of their playbook and letting Schottenheimer add the rest.
Another unknown is what will happen to passing-game coordinator Dave Canales, a longtime Carroll assistant who was passed over for the OC job in favor of Waldron. Wide receivers coach Nate Carroll, Pete’s son, would be an option to take over Canales’ role.
Waldron’s departure marks more turnover for McVay’s staff. Defensive coordinator Brandon Staley was hired as the Chargers’ head coach, while assistants Ray Agnew, Joe Barry and Aubrey Pleasant have taken coaching jobs elsewhere. And the Rams’ front office lost Brad Holmes, who was hired by the Lions as their general manager.
ESPN’s Lindsey Thiry contributed to this report.