Russell Wilson has been with the Seahawks for so long that it’s hard to imagine him playing for a different team. But this week, fans are starting to see how his relationship with head coach Pete Carroll has become so frayed that it may not survive.
What is going on?
Wilson is generally dissatisfied with the fact that the Seahawks have not won a Super Bowl since 2014. When you have a quarterback as talented and hellbent on winning as Wilson, it’s not difficult to see how he might become dismayed with the team’s general trajectory the last several years.
But why speak out publicly now, as he and his surrogates have been doing this week in the media?
Probably because he is beyond upset at watching other teams outpace the Seahawks in the playoffs and the Super Bowl. In fact, if you saw the expression on Wilson’s face at the Super Bowl in Tampa last weekend, you know that his disgruntlement is sincere.
The ostensible reason Wilson offered for his dissatisfaction is that he is sacked too much because the Seahawks don’t place enough emphasis on the offensive line. That may well be true. Many have parsed the sack numbers and the numbers of offensive linemen that the franchise has drafted during Wilson’s tenure. It’s true that the Seahawks’ offensive line is not at the top of any statistical list. And Wilson does take a lot of sacks. Whether that’s the line’s fault, his fault, or something in between, is open to debate.
It’s not hard to imagine, however, that Wilson must be looking at the bigger picture of where the team has been and where they are going. You can almost imagine a giant hourglass with the sand running out.
Pete Carroll is already the oldest coach in the NFL. Wilson has been in the league a decade himself. And ironman Tom Brady’s longevity notwithstanding, Wilson can’t have that many opportunities left to win more Super Bowls. And he must be wondering if the Seahawks are the best franchise for him to play for, especially if things are going to stay the same with Carroll’s run first, pass deep later approach to the game, which can feel a bit antiquated when you look at how quarterbacks like Patrick Mahomes are playing the game. Heck, pocket passer extraordinaire though he is, not even Brady sits back there and waits for receivers to get open at the opposite end of the field. He gets lots of short passes out quickly and utilizes the middle and corners of the field in a way that doesn’t exactly describe the way the Seahawks play offense.
Would Wilson leaving the Seahawks be hard for fans to accept?
Almost certainly yes, at least at first. The reality is that few quarterbacks remain with the same franchise for their entire career. It’s not true of Brady, nor Joe Montana, nor Brett Favre, to name just a few. Even Aaron Rodgers will likely walk from the Green Bay Packers at some point in the near to mid-horizon future.
Will fans go with Wilson to his new franchise?
That’s generally not the way that football fandom works. Most Seahawks fans will stick with their hometown franchise if and when Wilson leaves. Sure, there are some fans of Tom Brady who used to root for the New England Patriots but now root for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but they are few and far between.
Could the Seahawks new offense in 2021 under new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron look different than in the past, thus making Wilson happy to stay?
Yes, though with Pete Carroll still calling the shots, don’t expect it to change dramatically. And that gets right to the heart of what Russell Wilson is likely thinking about right now.
For fans, all you can do is steel yourselves for inevitable change. It’s part of football just like it’s part of life. With luck, this is just off-season discontent that can be hashed out and repaired prior to the start of next season.
Then again, success in this sport is so fleeting we might as well call it fleetball.