Waldron faces the heat as new OC for Seahawks

FILE - In this July 28, 2021, file photo, Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator Shane Waldron, left, talks with quarterback Russell Wilson during NFL football practice in Renton, Wash. Of all the offseason moves made by the Seattle Seahawks none may end up being more important than hiring Waldron as offensive coordinator. Tasked with modernizing Seattle's offense and making Russell Wilson happy, Waldron's system finally gets its unveiling in the opener on Sunday against Indianapolis.(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

INDIANAPOLIS — Jim Irsay delivered a succinct message when the Indianapolis Colts reported to training camp.

Win the opener.

Six weeks later, Irsay’s goal still resonates with the players and coaches preparing for Sunday’s season opener against Seattle.

“We all know the opener is a big deal, especially when it’s a home opener, especially when your owner is letting you know it’s a big deal,” coach Frank Reich said. “I think we’ve all gotten that message.”

It’s a strange twist for a franchise that used to rely on fast starts during the Peyton Manning era.

But since Manning’s release in March 2012, opening day has been filled primarily with frowns.

There was the 20-point rout at Chicago in Andrew Luck’s debut, a loss to Manning in Denver in 2014, another blowout to the Rams in 2017 when Luck was injured and a loss to the Chargers in 2019 — each in Los Angeles. Last year began with a loss at Jacksonville — the Jaguars’ only win of the season.

Now, they’re trying to snap a seven-game Week 1 losing streak against the defending NFC West champs.

“Starting off 1-0 is important, it sets the tempo for the season,” All-Pro defensive tackle DeForest Buckner said.

But as the Colts began this week, they were uncertain who would start at quarterback.

Carson Wentz missed three weeks with an injured left foot and five more days when he landed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. He practiced in full pads without limitations for the first time Wednesday.

If he can’t go, Jacob Eason, who finished his college career with the Washington Huskies, will make his NFL debut against his home-state team.

Either way, Seattle knows it’s going to be a challenge.

“They have a great running game that’s going to complement some of their play-action stuff,” All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner said. “(Wentz) is really good at getting the ball out of his hands, making reads. It’ll be a lot different than the film we’re watching with Philip Rivers.”

Seattle has defied the odds on early Sunday games too. The Seahawks have won 11 of the past 12 in this time slot, including a 3-1 mark last season.

With Super Bowl-winning quarterback Russell Wilson, Pro Bowl receiver DK Metcalf and a staunch defense, the Seahawks might have the perfect mix to ruin another opening day for Irsay and the Colts.

“It doesn’t matter where you go, it’s the same,” coach Pete Carroll said. “It’s bringing the very best that you have to bring, no matter what’s going on, every single day you have. This program has been built on that.”

THE UNVEILING — Seahawks fans finally get a glimpse into how Wilson fits into Shane Waldron’s new offense. Most starters didn’t play during the preseason and Carroll is curious to see how it works.

Waldron worked previously under Sean McVay in Los Angeles and Seattle thinks he can blend what worked for the Rams with what worked for the Seahawks previously. Players and coaches have used terms such as tempo and diversity of plays to describe what to expect.

“I’m anxious and excited to see our guys go because we have guys in all of the right spots that we love,” Carroll said. “We are really looking forward to them pulling off the game plan.”

TURN HIM LOOSE? — Seattle safety Jamal Adams needed only 12 games to break the NFL’s record for sacks by a defensive back (9 1/2), and did it despite playing most of 2020 with finger and shoulder injuries that required offseason surgery.

Now, in his second season with the Seahawks, Carroll has hinted Adams may be turned loose more frequently. Seattle views Adams a defensive playmaker capable of lining up at multiple spots to take advantage of his pass-rushing skills.

Recommended for you