Through the first eight weeks of the Seattle Seahawks season, things seemed to be going off without a hitch on the offensive end of the ball. Russell Wilson was in MVP talks. The offensive line had seemingly made a heel turn from their past history and was performing like a league-average unit. DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett had staked a claim as one of the best receiving duos in the league. Fast forward to now and it feels like that was a decade ago (possibly because quarantine makes everything longer, but I digress). Seattle could only muster a measly 20 points in their depressingly fast playoff exit, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer has been shown the door and now Wilson has been going on a speaking tour about how unhappy he was with Seattle’s offensive output through the final stretch of their season. It sounds like Russ is pissed, which has made the Seattle front office pissed and the fans are watching this all play out in horror. Probably because I need to go through this almost as a form of shock therapy, I figured it would be useful to go through each of Russ’ most incendiary quotes/reports and gage the how true each actually is.
“I want to be involved. One of the reasons Tom went to Tampa was because he could trust those guys & Bruce would give him an opportunity. Any time you bring free agents in you want the best players, ones who love the game. It helps to be involved more.” – Russell Wilson
While reading this quote, some clear things come to mind in what Russell is asking for going forward. He’s demanding that team brass consults him more regarding personnel decisions, especially free agency. He sat and watched Tom Brady in the Super Bowl hand the ball off to Leonard Fournette (a big-name offseason pick-up) and throw multiple touchdowns to Rob Gronkowski (trade prompted by Brady signing) and Antonio Brown (signing pushed for by Brady). Antonio Brown in particular probably sticks in Russell’s craw as he is someone that he advocated for last season for Seattle to pick up to bolster the receiving corps.
Another source of frustration for him must be Seattle’s overall free agency strategy, which is to pick up low cost and overlooked veterans in the hope they can resurrect their careers. This focus has yielded some success, as players like Mike Iupati, Brandon Shell and Benson Mayowa were all significant contributors last season. The problem is, for every success there is multiple failures, as Seattle’s past is littered with failed reclamation projects. The one’s that probably bother Russ the most are players like Bradley Sowell, J’Marcus Webb, Luke Joeckel and Oday Aboushi as all these players represent the worst years of Seattle’s offensive line struggles. All were brought in as potential starters at tackle and guard and all of them were just as bad as they were before they got here or even worse with the absence of other capable starters around them. If you were to total up all the wasted money from Seattle’s failed signings, the Seahawks could have brought in a single more capable starter or contributor and get more production from that single player than what they actually got. I’m sure Russ would like to see some more real money put into the team, especially on the offensive line.
“A source told me that the Seahawks management is not happy with Russell Wilson and his camp for taking this to the media.” “You wonder if they’re going to be able to co-exist… the current situation is unsustainable. That’s what I was told.” – Rob Staton
This quote, from a very reputable reporter, has me very confused. While Staton isn’t quite Adam Schefter, he does write for the BBC and specifically covers the Seahawks. While I don’t doubt what he heard was true, I’m very skeptical that anyone in Seattle’s organization would suggest that Seattle’s situation is “unsustainable” in any way. Unless Russell, behind the scenes, has been saying worse things than he has publicly, nothing really has been stepping over the line of no return.
On the other hand, Seattle isn’t a huge fan of its players questioning team leadership. The closest analogue would be Richard Sherman, who questioned Seattle’s offensive-play calling, the team’s elevation of Russell Wilson and would verbally attack reporters. His break from the team’s culture, along with an achilles tear, led Seattle to believe that a separation was best for both parties. The biggest difference is that even though Sherman was a star player, a cornerback isn’t a quarterback. He also seemed to be dropping out of his prime, compared to Russ who is still a top five player at his position. Seattle may not love Russ publicly questioning team decision makers, but they should have a much longer rope for him than any other player on the team.
“I love playing for Seattle. Loved it for years… The reality is, I think it’s frustrating being there (at the Super Bowl), watching the game… You never want to get hit…. I’ve definitely been hit. Been sacked almost 400 times. We’ve got to get better.” – Russell Wilson
Tom Brady was only pressured nine TOTAL times during the entire Super Bowl. The Chiefs pass rushing unit of Frank Clark, Chris Jones and Alex Okafor hardly breathed on Tom Brady, let alone consistently put him on the ground. Over the course of this season, the Buccaneers only gave up 22 sacks all season, whereas Russell Wilson was brought down 47 times. It’s clear where Russell’s line of reasoning came from, especially after the Chiefs had the opposite experience on offense, where Patrick Mahomes was pressured non-stop. The difference in the ability to get to the quarterback was what made the difference in the Super Bowl and what has made the difference in so many Seahawk losses. In contrast to that, Seattle made actual progress on the offensive line this season, finishing 9th in ESPN’s Pass-Block win-rate metric. But that didn’t stop Russell Wilson from taking sacks, why is that so?
The biggest reason is injuries, as starters Mike Iupati, Brandon Shell and Ethan Pocic all missed significant time during the season. While their replacements weren’t embarrassingly bad, they once again provided weak links in what had become a much stronger unit. While the starting unit was anywhere from fine to pretty good in the regular season, that also proved to still be not good enough for the postseason. Aaron Donald and Leonard Floyd absolutely destroyed the Seattle offensive line in the Wild Card round, keeping Russell Wilson from ever getting settled in and was what most contributed to Seattle’s early playoff exit. Russ is absolutely justified in saying the Seattle needs upgrades to compete at the highest levels, specifically at right tackle, left guard and center.
But if Russell is pointing to total sacks, he must also be able to bear some of the blame. A good chunk of Seattle’s 47 sacks this year can be placed on him. Too often this year Russell took the snap, stared down the field at his covered receivers and chose to try and scramble instead of taking the easy throw away. While the Russell Wilson magic is a very real thing, that same type of play development leads to a higher number of sacks as it forces the offensive line to try and stay engaged with their assigned rushers for much longer than what the initial play design dictates. Along with that is Russell is no longer 25 anymore, he clearly has lost a bit of speed and quickness that allowed him to easily maneuver past rushers back in the day. Tom Brady was only sacked 22 times because on many of his drop backs, he never gave the other team a chance to bring him to the ground. If a play wasn’t there, he tossed it away. As Russ ages, he needs to take the same strategy, as he is doing the players trying to protect him no favors.
In conclusion, the Seahawks have ZERO chance of trading away their franchise QB. But to ensure that Russell is committed to Seattle into the twilight of his career, they need to prove to him that they have his best interests and health as a priority. If not, Russell might make a lot more noise going forward as his contract starts to run down and Seattle might ACTUALLY find themselves in an untenable situation. Until then, feel free to throw all those articles on Russell’s trade value into the trash.