Maybe it’s greatest to begin right here, late within the fourth quarter of Week 15 with the Seattle Seahawks trailing 17-13 and pinned inside their 10-yard line. The two-minute warning had simply handed, proper after the Philadelphia Eagles downed a punt on the Seahawks 8.
After kicking a discipline purpose two possessions earlier, the Seahawks had life however confronted a pressure-packed problem in opposition to a high quality opponent within the late levels of a “gotta have it” sport. On the sideline at Lumen Field, offensive coordinator Shane Waldron grabbed quarterback Drew Lock — an emergency starter that night time as a consequence of Geno Smith’s groin damage — and went to work.
It was showtime in Seattle for a 6-7, playoff-contending staff in want of an enormous second on the “Monday Night Football” stage.
The ensuing drive started with an incompletion — a Lock bullet over the center that ricocheted off tight finish Noah Fant’s palms and virtually was intercepted. Over the subsequent 9 snaps, there have been just a few different near-disasters too. But the sequence additionally included 5 Lock completions, together with a third-and-10 shot play up the appropriate sideline to DK Metcalf for 34 yards.
Then, within the second of fact, going through one other third-and-long from the Eagles 29, Lock recognized rookie Jaxon Smith-Njigba in single protection, had the perfect play name from Waldron and dropped a game-winning bomb into the tip zone with 28 seconds remaining.
Seahawks 20, Eagles 17.
That was a comparatively small second folded right into a disappointing season for the Seahawks. But for all concerned, it was a game-on-the-line triumph and represented the type of resilient, poised and fearless soccer Waldron needs his unit to play.
Six days later, with Smith again at quarterback, Waldron put his fingerprints on one other game-winning landing drive that ended within the ultimate minute, this time a grinding, 14-play, 75-yard march that completed with Smith’s 5-yard go to Colby Parkinson in a 20-17 street win over the Tennessee Titans.
That marked the second time in NFL historical past — and the primary since 1999 — a staff had two quarterbacks throw game-winning landing passes within the ultimate minute of regulation in consecutive weeks. And it offered added proof of Waldron’s capability to adapt and arrange his gamers for fulfillment within the crucial levels of video games.
The Chicago Bears hope to lean into these abilities and lots of extra with Waldron as their new offensive coordinator. That union turned official Tuesday. Waldron, 44, will start the subsequent leg of his soccer journey at a doubtlessly landmark time in Bears historical past.
He would be the offensive visionary tasked with fueling the staff’s championship pursuit whereas bringing out the perfect in whichever quarterback(s) the Bears select to steer them into 2024 and past.
Waldron additionally will stroll into an offensive coordinator’s workplace at Halas Hall the place — except Adam Gase — the inhabitants virtually all the time go away by means of a lure door relatively than on an up escalator.
The pursuit of consistency
Within league circles, Waldron is considered an up-and-coming offensive architect, an clever and inventive coach with robust educating abilities. His work with Smith in Seattle in 2022 is especially notable because the once-forgotten quarterback loved a profession yr (4,282 passing yards, 30 TDs) on the way in which to incomes Pro Bowl honors and the league’s Comeback Player of the Year award.
Waldron has labored below among the sport’s teaching greats — Bill Belichick with the New England Patriots (2008-09), Sean McVay with the Los Angeles Rams (2017-20) and Pete Carroll for the final three seasons in Seattle.
He was the Rams passing sport coordinator for 3 seasons and Jared Goff’s quarterbacks coach in 2019. He spent one season with Russell Wilson in Seattle earlier than making ready Smith to be a productive starter for a playoff staff in 2022.
When it comes time for the Bears to formally introduce Waldron, he probably will element three key tenets inside his offensive philosophy. Ball safety is a should. Fundamentals require a day by day funding to remain sharp. Buy-in from the complete group would be the blowtorch that ignites every thing.
Waldron probably will discuss typically about being dedicated to the pursuit of consistency. He strives for steadiness in his offense, wanting to determine a robust operating sport whereas embracing an attacking mentality when explosive-play alternatives current themselves.
And as was the case in these two late comeback victories final month, Waldron certainly needs the identification of his offense to incorporate composure, willpower and high-level psychological toughness.
As a play caller, he should join on a heightened degree together with his quarterback, striving to constantly carry out the perfect in whomever that seems to be.
The presumption is, on the very least, he might be afforded enter as his new bosses at Halas Hall work to resolve that riddle within the coming weeks and months. That work will embody each pre-draft homework and in-house discussions on the developmental progress of Justin Fields.
Fit course of
Like with any teaching rent, it’s straightforward to gravitate first to emotions of hope, to the optimistic visions of the numerous enhancements that may catalyze a significant breakthrough. Waldron’s expertise calling performs was a particular plus for the Bears. For common supervisor Ryan Poles and coach Matt Eberflus, that removes a piece of the guesswork that comes with making an attempt to forecast how he would possibly deal with these duties in Chicago and how much productiveness they’ll anticipate.
Still, Eberflus and Poles are lower than two years faraway from hiring their final offensive coordinator — the January 2022 union with Luke Getsy that triggered important pleasure at Halas Hall.
Like Waldron, Getsy was hailed as a rising, younger offensive coach with excessive intelligence, confirmed educating abilities and spectacular creativity. He had been with the Green Bay Packers for six of the earlier seven seasons, together with three working below Matt LaFleur in a Kyle Shanahan/McVay-style offense. Getsy was endorsed by those that knew him greatest — gamers and coaches — as a robust communicator, steadying chief and honest, relatable staff builder.
He had been Aaron Rodgers’ quarterbacks coach for MVP seasons in 2020 and 2021 and, whereas serving as Mike McCarthy’s receivers coach in 2016 and 2017, had been credited by Davante Adams as influential in his breakthrough.
“He’s been on my radar for a while,” Eberflus stated after hiring Getsy, later emphasizing his attraction to the timing-based, quick-decision passing assault Getsy was more likely to carry.
For the subsequent two seasons, Getsy was considered an imaginative soccer thoughts with robust collaborative abilities and a complete understanding of all of the transferring elements inside an offense. But the Bears, below his steerage, additionally had important inconsistency points, and the specified breakthrough for Fields by no means reached the extent the staff hoped.
All the optimistic traits the Bears recognized in Getsy didn’t imply sufficient when his offense too steadily discovered itself sputtering.
Fields labored his hardest to grasp a system that was not best for him. Getsy’s troubleshooting efforts typically steered Fields away from ideas and performs he was most snug with.
It turned a irritating sq. dance. The quarterback was steadily adjusting to the play caller. The play caller was adjusting to the quarterback. The offense, in flip, was adjusting, readjusting, then adjusting but once more for big chunks of two seasons, impeding the chance to construct momentum or develop, significantly within the passing sport.
It was a match concern. A major one. And it’s a lesson Eberflus and Poles should study as they attempt to arrange Waldron for fulfillment.
Waldron’s expertise and adaptive qualities ought to assist. But with the Bears doubtlessly at a pivot level at quarterback, striving to marry the offensive imaginative and prescient with the personnel should stay a precedence as effectively.
For no matter it’s price, Waldron’s Seahawks ranked behind the Bears this season in complete offense, first downs, touchdowns, third-down conversion proportion and red-zone effectivity. They additionally had a bottom-five dashing assault.
Waldron should discover methods to make his subsequent offense way more potent. Whatever it takes. He will need to have options and concepts for maximizing his quarterback’s items whereas additionally enjoying to the strengths of the supporting solid.
And when the stress rises? When the Bears attain these crucial levels of shut video games? Waldron might be anticipated to constantly be at his greatest, bringing out the perfect in each participant in his offense.
The Bears, naturally, are longing for what’s forward. Ultimately, the outcomes Waldron produces and his capability to assist the staff’s quarterback(s) shine will outline his time in Chicago.