Seattle Seahawks cast wide net in search of offensive coordinator

SEATTLE -- In both timing and scope, Pete Carroll's current search for an offensive coordinator looks much different than his last one.

Just look at who the Seattle Seahawks coach has been eyeing and how long things are taking.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Sunday the Seahawks want to interview Buffalo Bills quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey for their OC vacancy and have been speaking to Los Angeles Rams passing game coordinator Shane Waldron, too.

They're the latest in a long list of names that have been linked to the Seahawks in the two weeks since they announced the 'parting of ways' with Brian Schottenheimer. Waldron is the latest name who doesn't have an extensive background working with quarterbacks.

That was something Carroll wanted in 2018, as he looked to streamline the communication between the offensive coaching staff and quarterback Russell Wilson. It was one of the reasons he was drawn to Schottenheimer, whom he described at the time as "a dedicated quarterback guy, which is a big deal to me."

But that doesn't appear to be a prerequisite for the job this time around, as Carroll has shown interest in coaches with and without a quarterback background. Anthony Lynn, who has since taken the Detroit Lions' OC job, doesn't have one. Nor does Kirby Wilson, a longtime running backs coach who worked with Carroll in New England and at USC. Waldron coached other positions on offense before being elevated to his current role in 2018.

Carroll is indeed casting a wide net, as ESPN's Jeremy Fowler put it. And his search is taking longer than it did in 2018, when he hired Schottenheimer less than a week after firing Darrell Bevell.

One possible explanation is Carroll has been waiting to talk to assistants whose teams remain in the playoffs. That seems more plausible with Schefter's report Carroll wants to interview Dorsey, whose Bills lost in the AFC Championship Game Sunday. If that explains the delay, perhaps some of Carroll's expansive search has been more a brain-picking exercise as he gathers information.

Another theory is some candidates are wary of a job in which they might not have the preferred latitude. They may rightfully wonder how much control over the offense Carroll wants to have after he showed Schottenheimer the door in the wake of a second-half nosedive in which the two weren't on the same page. That could apply to the overall scheme as much as it does to individual game plans and playcalls (more on that later).

Or maybe Carroll is simply taking his time knowing how important it is to get this hire right while also listening to input from Wilson, who wants his voice heard in the process.

Here's what else you need to know about Seattle's OC search:

  • Carroll's end-of-season comments about needing to run the ball more/better shed light on the disconnect between him and Schottenheimer while also providing one obvious clue about what he'll seek in his next OC. Expect it to be someone well-versed in running and as willing to run as Carroll wants.

  • Schottenheimer only got to run about 30% of his offense when he was hired in 2018. He had to adopt most of what the Seahawks were already running because Carroll felt that Wilson and others had been in that system for too long to start from scratch. It's hard to imagine Carroll being any more willing to install an entirely new scheme, especially with the potential for the 2021 offseason program to be curtailed or shut down again because of COVID-19. A similar approach to 2018 would make for a more seamless transition but could disqualify more established candidates who insist on bringing in more of their own playbook.

  • Jake Heaps, Wilson's personal QB coach, tweeted his approval of Schefter's report of the Seahawks' interest in Dorsey and Waldron (Schefter also reported they were talking to Saints QB coach Mike Lombardi, but has since reported that Lombardi is on track to become the Chargers' OC). "Now we're finally talking!!" Heaps wrote. "If you can't land an established play caller [then] landing a younger innovative mind that has been part of great systems like Waldron and Dorsey is the right move for the Seahawks."

  • Dave Canales, the Seahawks' passing game coordinator, is their highest-ranking in-house candidate. He's worked under Carroll for the past 12 seasons dating to USC. Carroll thought enough of Canales to promote him from QB coach last offseason, but he has not called plays and would be learning to do so on the job. Then again, the same would be true for candidates like Dorsey.

  • No reports have linked Green Bay Packers OC Nathaniel Hackett to the Seahawks, but his resume has Carroll written all over it. The Packers have committed the fewest turnovers (24) in the NFL over his two seasons in Green Bay. In that span, they're 21st in dropback rate (61.3%) and eighth in yards per rush (4.58). Hackett has called plays in the past but does not do so for the Packers.

If the Seahawks wanted to interview Hackett, the Packers could block the request since that would constitute a lateral move. But the Bills could not block Seattle's request for Dorsey since he would be interviewing for a promotion from QB coach to OC.