SEATTLE -- Shane Waldron's introductory news conference Tuesday revealed a few things about the Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator and the role he's taking on. Among them: How aligned he is philosophically with coach Pete Carroll, how he views being a first-time playcaller and rapport he's building with quarterback Russell Wilson.
Some of the biggest questions remain. What will Seattle's offense look like under his direction? More specifically, how similar will it be to the Sean McVay system that Waldron coached with the Los Angeles Rams? Even more specifically, how much of it will be concepts Waldron brings with him and how much of what the Seahawks are already doing will he adopt?
The answer to that last question wasn't clear from his response.
"I have a core set of beliefs that I'm going to stick to, but we're going to build this thing together," Waldron said. "I think that the one thing with Russell and with the rest of the players that are on this team, they have a great foundation and they have won a lot of football games together, so will there be parts of stuff that carries over? Absolutely, because there's been some great things they've done in the past.
"But for me, I'm really more worried about 2021 and there's a lot of things in the past that we all learn from and I think we grow from those experiences, but really everything moving forward is going to be all about this year and how this group of players fits together, how this group of coaches fit together and how we can attack that with that competitive mindset."
When the Seahawks changed offensive coordinators in 2018, Carroll believed Wilson and others had spent too much time in the same system to start from scratch. All involved estimated about 70% of the playbook that year was the offense they had been running under Darrell Bevell and 30% was what his replacement, Brian Schottenheimer, incorporated.
The wholesale scheme change Carroll wasn't interested in back then could be even more difficult this offseason with the potential for on-field work to be limited again due to the coronavirus pandemic. Wilson recently said he doesn't envision the Seahawks being allowed to hold in-person OTAs and minicamp in the spring.
Waldron answered scheme-based questions mostly in vague terms, perhaps not wanting to tip his hand. It could have also been because he and Carroll don't know exactly what their offense will look like without getting on the field first.
"There's going to be a wide variety of pieces to this offense," Waldron said. "But that mindset is never going to change and how we get to that is really going to be all based on the players because any of these core beliefs really don't get off the ground without them. So I'll have this system of beliefs that we're going to walk in the door with, we're going to build it around that and then the players are going to make that system come to life and what the final product's going to look like, that's not going to be determined until that opening game."
Carroll has not spoken to reporters since Waldron was hired but previously said they needed to run the ball better to force defenses into more favorable coverages, something the Seahawks didn't do when opponents began taking away their deep passing game late last season. Waldron made several mentions Tuesday of his desire for offensive balance, something Carroll strives for and something he didn't feel the Seahawks had when they were dropping back to pass more than any team over the first 10 weeks last season.
Even if the Seahawks don't go all-in on the McVay system, one hallmark that figures to carry over is the heavy usage of play-action. The Rams have run play-action on a league-high 31.8% of their dropbacks over McVay's four seasons in Los Angeles, according to ESPN Stats & Information; the Seahawks are ninth at 25.5%.
Another hallmark is routes that put pass-catchers in position to rack up yards after the catch. Under McVay, the Rams are third in YAC per reception at 5.94 while the Seahawks are 24th at 4.88 in that span. Seattle has had plenty of firepower at receiver -- Pro Bowlers Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf -- suggesting the lack of YAC is a scheme issue.
In Wilson, Waldron has a quarterback who is much more adept at beating defenses deep than the one he coached in Los Angeles, Jared Goff. The Rams' 7.5 air yards per attempt over the past four seasons ranks 24th in the NFL. Seattle is fifth at 8.6.
"The great part about Russell Wilson within this system is he does have an ability to do a lot of different things and just because I'm saying that it's a balanced attack doesn't mean that that's a conservative attack," Waldron said. "I don't ever want to get that confused."
The way Schottenheimer and Carroll clashed over how to run the offense raises another big-picture question. Waldron was asked if Carroll gave him any indication of how much autonomy he'll have as a playcaller.
"I've talked to Pete a bunch about this through the process," Waldron said. "He has my back, fully supportive with what I want to do and what direction we want to take this thing together. So it will be a situation where I feel like I'm walking into a great scenario with a bunch of great coaches that have such a solid foundation, from coach Carroll right on down through the rest of the men on the offensive staff that I'll get a chance to work with. The way I'm looking at this thing, it's like any other part of football -- this is a team sport. Everyone is in this together."