Two Reasons Why Russell Wilson isn’t being Shortchanged by Pete Carroll

April 15th, 2019 | Written by Brandon Adams

I wasn’t following Seahawks Twitter’s recent “most hated Seattleites” bracket all that closely, but if Pete Carroll wasn’t on there, he might be soon.

Seattle’s head coach, architect of two of the franchise’s NFC championships and its lone Lombardi trophy, is now considered by some to be the reason Russell Wilson deserves better than Seattle and is thus unlikely to stay.

The necessary rationalization has already taken place. Folks are already prepared to dismiss Carroll’s success as luck and a one-off, the casualty of an offensive system that is somehow outdated now but not five years ago, and has made Wilson incompatible with Seattle. They are conjecturing like mad telepaths on Wilson’s motives for his hardball approach: that the run-heavy Dallas game was the last straw, that Wilson wants to challenge himself by throwing more, and that he is pricing himself out of Seattle to get such an opportunity.

You’re seeing two versions of this: “Wilson deserves to play for a team that will utilize him”, and “Seattle shouldn’t pay 35 million a year for a QB in a run-first offense.”

Neither of these arguments makes much sense, or ever did.

 

Supposition #1: “Wilson deserves to play for a team that will properly utilize him.”

It’s typically assumed especially amongst sports media, that Wilson will be better utilized if he is asked to throw more.

It’s a superficial take that forgets one glaring aspect of Wilson’s game: his conservatism. Wilson is as conservative a thrower as Pete Carroll is an offensive coach.

How, you ask, might Wilson look in the kind of byzantine, pundit-praised mad-bomber offensive system that Seattle fans so envy? He might look in many ways like he does now. Wilson has always been a cautious, conservative thrower (until the 4th quarter). That’s not something Pete had to beat into his brain during his rookie camp. He came with it. He believes in ball security, and it’s one reason you could argue that he is already as much at home philosophically, in Seattle, as he ever will be.

How are people missing this? Wilson has never been a gunslinger. He doesn’t want to be. You’re talking about a guy who drops back, refuses to throw into coverage, waits for big separation, scrambles while waiting, and generally would rather take a sack than risk a throw where there’s no opening. It’s hard to argue. The resulting lack of turnovers is what’s helped keep Seattle competitive in all but two games in Wilson’s seven-year career.

Are there systems out there that could enable more throws for Wilson? Yeah. But it’s not just about passing more. You’d need a team whose offense is largely devoted to creating separation, and that brings up the specter of a team that’s invested big money in its guards, receivers, and tight ends – and might not have a ton of room for Wilson’s megadeal. It would also be relying on a cheap and green defense. Sounds like the Saints, right? Well, they’ve had a bottom-five defense almost perennially since their Super Bowl win, the only exceptions coming when Seattle was around to escort them out of the playoffs.

I know some are a fan of that approach to the point of blind faith. I am not. Wilson might balk as well.

If Sean Payton got a hold of Wilson, he’d want that ball to be actually leaving Wilson’s hands every once in a while, and Wilson doesn’t like that without a somewhat high degree of certainty. Some coordinators want a straight-up riverboat gambler. That’s one very simple reason his skill set does not automatically translate to just any pass-heavy team. Some fans might think they’re doing Wilson a favor by urging him to another team, but they might not be.

 

Supposition #2: “Seattle shouldn’t pay 35 million a year for a QB in a run-first offense.”

This one is just sort of weird, because it assumes the difficulty of the quarterback’s job is dependent on volume. It isn’t.

It isn’t. It’s hard because championships require a quarterback who can improvise, and those throws don’t get easier just because there are fewer of them.

Every once in a while, no matter how strong the running game and defense, there will be moments where the quarterback has to create on third down. That was true for Wilson’s NFC championship runs, and it’s true for every other run. The question of “who really created our Super Bowl season – Lynch, Wilson, or the defense” is a distraction. You need a complete team. Seattle had one, and it included a franchise QB who produced when the chips were down. Indeed, few QB’s in the league’s history have excelled at this quality, much less entertained fantastically with it, like Russell Wilson. It’s why he’s elite, despite only one Super Bowl ring. (Unless you think Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers’ one ring disqualifies them from elite status, too. And no, you didn’t think that until you read this paragraph.)

Seattle’s offense could feature a 70%-30% run-to-pass ratio and those tough throws would still be absolutely mandatory to a championship season. They don’t get easier because there are fewer of them.

Will a game manager like Tarvaris Jackson, or a rickety veteran like Eli Manning, or a career backup like Paxton Lynch make those clutch throws? I highly doubt it. Maybe one or two, but you’re massively narrowing the margin for error there. Teams win or lose Super Bowls by that margin.

A quarterback coming cheaper doesn’t make him a “better fit for Seattle”. I would say “that logic is absurd”, but it doesn’t deserve to be called logic. It’s really just passive-aggressive frustration with the Dallas game.

So, is Russell Wilson, even in Pete Carroll’s relatively run-heavy offense, worth $35 million a year? You bet he is. Yes, even if he’s not throwing as much. Simply because the sheer skill requirements of the position will never permit a lesser QB to succeed.

If you don’t like this, you’re free to speak to the NFL. They’re the ones who have made the quarterback position (and its natural predator the edge rusher – re: Frank Clark) so earth-haltingly important through the slow shifting of its offensive rules. It’s the way things are now. Just how complete an NFL team can be once Wilson (and Patrick Mahomes after him) blast the market open is a fair question, but make no mistake, Wilson – or a QB of his caliber – will be needed.

Letting passing volume dictate contract size would be failing for cheaper. It’s time to start cutting that out of the discussion.

 

74 Responses to “Two Reasons Why Russell Wilson isn’t being Shortchanged by Pete Carroll”

  1. Zxvo3 says:

    Thank you for this Rob. I’m so tired of seeing these criticisms of Pete Carroll and the run-pass ratio. I think it’s unfair for people to question if Seattle really needs to pay Wilson. He is such a huge factor of Seattle’s success.

  2. Gohawks5151 says:

    I agree on both accounts. Though in regards to #1 I think if he got brought up by someone like Andy Reid he would be more apt to be a high volume passer. It’s confidence thing as well. Look at Goff. Pete’s system does play to his strengths and protects him too. I do wonder how he will age in it. Yes the run game lessens his hits, but he is still taking a lot of hits. When his legs leave him his game is going to have to evolve as a passer. As for #2, 35 million a year looks better and better. I’m even warming up to 40

  3. drewdawg11 says:

    Absolutely spot on. Pay the man. If he truly doesn’t want to be there, that’s one thing. Pay the man and keep him in Seattle.

  4. cha says:

    Mike Garafolo

    @MikeGarafolo
    Follow Follow @MikeGarafolo
    More
    With 3.5 hours to go until Russell Wilson’s deadline to do a deal with the #Seahawks, it’s silent. Still work to be done to get to an agreement. Could always happen quickly but I’m not getting the sense the sides are finalizing a deal as I tweet. Gonna be a late night.

    8:36 PM – 15 Apr 2019

    • cha says:

      ProFootballTalk

      @ProFootballTalk
      Follow Follow @ProFootballTalk
      More
      If Russell Wilson deal gets done tonight, one source predicts it will be “huge numbers” but with a conventional structure and nothing outside the box like future compensation tied to cap percentage.

      8:49 PM – 15 Apr 2019

  5. Eli says:

    Great piece Rob – I think what really underscores all of it is that Russell Wilson is the perfect fit for Carroll’s offensive philosophy. He wants to run the ball and create explosive passing plays to pick up huge chunks of yardage. Russ is one of the most efficient QB’s in the league, can keeps plays alive with his feet, and is deadly on deep throws. It’s the perfect marriage and expecting us to skew pass heavy so Russ can “earn” his contract misses the point of what makes him amazing in the first place.

  6. Saxon says:

    Thanks, Rob.

    Somehow Pete Carroll has become the most underrated coach in sports. Sadly, it is his team’s own fanbase that constantly underrates him. It’s embarrassing. I would rather have one Pete Carroll than ten Russell Wilson’s, and I love Russ.

    Pete makes mistakes, it’s true, then he makes up for those mistakes. He waited too long to jettison Cable and Bevell but he finally hired the right people to replace them. Despite numerous poor drafts and questionable trades and free agent signings that gutted our roster he melded a disparate group of castoffs and rookies into a playoff team. Most projected Seattle to finish in the cellar in 2018. Carroll defied them.

    The genius of Carroll is in adaptation. We’ve witnessed him converting players to new roles to maximize their contributions and it nearly always works. If we have to replace Russ, Pete will find a different way to win, maximizing the strengths of the new signal caller while emphasizing production from other areas of the offense. It’s what he does.

    Lastly, don’t forget the ire that some former Seahawks had toward Wilson. They did not hold his play in the highest regard because Russ does hold the ball too long, takes sacks, misses reads, misses throws, etc. For years the defense has to come to the offense’s rescue because Wilson often couldn’t convert on third down. Despite that, Wilson is undeniably a franchise QB, so why wouldn’t any teammate be thrilled to have him, especially considering the terrible QB situations afflicting other teams? I’d speculate that the defense sees the game much differently than we do. They see all the plays Russ might make but misses. Is it possible that Seattle might not be that worse with a more conventional player at QB? Someone sans Wilson’s athleticism, but whom makes quicker reads and sees the field a little better?

    • Todd says:

      I have to disagree with you Saxon and with Brandon’s article. (Though, it was very well written Brandon! Great job!)

      I’m an old school fan but young spirited. Went to my 1st game as a punk kid on 12/24/83, Xmas eve, when Dave Krieg dissected the Broncos in our 1st playoff appearance 31-7. It was the greatest Xmas gift a kid could ever receive!

      I started traveling the country in the 90’s when Erickson was coach and Moon was our signal caller. Few Seahawk fans were at Arrowhead or Mile High when I attended. When Holmgren took over, I traveled to Foxboro to watch the Hawks outplay the Pats in ’03 but lose. Jets with Jerry Rice wearing #80, Giants, Ravens in ’03, MNF vs Philly in ’05 when we shut out the Eagles on Reggie White tribute night 42-0. Road Playoff games in D.C., Atlanta, Carolina. Home games galore. You get the idea. I”m more than an avg fan and was traveling when Hawk fans were few and far between on the road.

      Pete Carroll has been great for the Hawks but if he was a better game day coach or could strategize like in the book Art of War, the Hawks would likely have 3 Lombardi’s. His conservative style cost us in 2012 vs the Falcons where that was our best offensive team, was lucky he was up against Harbaugh in the 2013 NFCCG and down 17-13 in the 4th going for a 53yd FG? Blessed that Haushka called PC off and re-enter RW to create the 4th down offsides and TD toss to Kearse for a 20-17 lead. The football Gods were with us. (Refs not calling roughing the punter on Maragos was a blessing. Called for running into the kicker which gave us the drive in that 4th qtr score.)

      How is it that I knew exactly what Pete’s game plan would be vs Dallas? I forecasted it on Field Gulls? not 20/20. It’s documented. Pete played conservative on Offense and conservative on D with no innovative game plan like a Belichick showed vs Chargers and especially the Rams in the SB. It’s always, this is what we do, stop it. Idiotic. My forecast is included in the you tube link. It’s a worthwhile view.

      Garrett had no problem stopping the Seahawks and executing on Offense because the Hawks are very simple to figure out. If I knew what was coming, anybody knew what was coming.

      Here’s my You tube post Dallas. Russ deserves a more innovative coach that will unleash his talents. The guy has top 3 PFF in Deep Balls, Pocket accuracy = Pin Point. He doesn’t have to wait for wide open receivers because our receivers don’t get major separation. Tyler running down some deep balls but it’s sideline routes.

      Russ threw the fewest passes of any QB in the playoffs. Why? That’s a scheme you support? It’s garbage. Threw the fewest of any starting QB on a game basis. The guy has a golden arm and we have yet to see his best because he plays behind a poor OL, average receivers & backs that we don’t utilize in the screen game. Pete Carroll is vastly overrated as a coach that he doesn’t make RW throw more play action on 1st down. He played the same way in the USC vs Texas NCAA game that USC lost. Always better talent but game day? Nope!!. I won’t digress further. Here’s the post Dallas you tube.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_xfK29OB__8

      Wilson is a marksman. An assassin with a football in his hand to deliver the rock. He hands off far too often. It’s like PC loves to play these tight ball control games on O and this single high cover 1 safety scheme to limit chunk plays but it costs us in the end. Hawks were blessed in that 2013 NFCCG vs the 49ers, blessed or we’d be Lombardi-less while having the talent to have 3 Lombardi’s in the case.

      We will just have to agree to disagree. Russ definitely deserves a coach with a more open O philosophy and am glad Duane Brown stepped up and voiced his opinion a few weeks ago that the Hawks need to pass more. There is no doubt, we do, or we’ll continue to win some close FG games vs Zona in the regular season and get ousted early in the playoffs.

      • Brandon Adams says:

        With all due respect and appreciation for the compliments…it’s not just me you’re disagreeing with. It’s the results of the Dallas game. We had a 14-10 lead at one point in that game. To hear most people talk, you’d think we were blown out, spent the whole affair trailing by three scores. Instead we were highly competitive and if you’re going to look at one play that cost us, it might as well be Bobby Wagner’s bizarre missed tackle in the fourth.

        The frustration towards Pete is largely an artifact of an eye-openingly run-heavy game that 1) wasn’t common even by Seahawks standards and 2) would have won the game if it executed as well as it did throughout the regular season.

        Sometimes I want to ask folks…do you want to win games, or do you want to hear pundits slobbering about how innovative we are? We went 10-6 in a year we had no business making the playoffs, untracked a top-5 running game, WATCHED RUSSELL WILSON SET RECORDS DESPITE FEWER THROWS, and still people want only to be talked about like Sean McVay and Andy Reid. It’s like it’s their only yardstick for success.

        I say, let’s not be like that. We were successful in 2018. We’ll be more successful in 2019.

  7. Dingbatman says:

    Great piece BRANDON!

    • Lil’stink says:

      I love and appreciate what Rob has done but I’m like why are people thanking him for this post when he didn’t write it? 😉

      Nice job, Brandon.

      I’d also like to add that if people who don’t know who Matty F Brown is give his Twitter feed a look, or check out his pieces on Field Gulls. I think he has made a compelling argument how PC has done a great job of maximizing RW’s strengths, and that the idea that PC’s “archaic” offensive schemes are holding Wilson back is way off track.

  8. Gohawks5151 says:

    Showing my age but waiting for this deadline is like waiting for Y2K. Will the world be here after midnight!?

  9. Troy says:

    Whoa, I thought this was Rob writing this, well written.

    I’ll admit this has swayed me, it does make some form of sense to not pay your QB the most money when you also run the ball more than any other team in the league, but you are right in that if there are less critical opportunities overall, that just increases the importance of those opportunities. And Wilson has shown to be one of the most efficient QBs ever to enter the league, meaning if you want to be run heavy Rus is a great complement to that. I hope they sign him to something sane like 33-34 mil a year for 4-5 years and call it good.

  10. Ashish says:

    I agree with Rob. To add if Wilson has a early interception he totally different QB on passing game. Do not mean to criticize Wilson but he is 50-50 run-pass qb. He thrives on solid running game.

  11. Dale Roberts says:

    This isn’t just about the offense and the running game but also about the defense. Dollars you give up for Russell Wilson will affect what we can spend on the defense. Our only Super Bowl win can as the result of a lopsided investment on defense. The “you don’t need a great QB if you have a great defense” argument was epitomized by the 2001 Ravens with Trent Dilfer at QB. Would they would have won with anybody at QB? Would Seattle have won in 2013 with anybody at the QB position? Have the rules changed so much that defense alone can no longer dominate?

    I think it’s a question worth asking.

    • Brandon Adams says:

      It is worth asking, but again, you largely have the NFL to blame for this. QB contracts are skyrocketing and leaving teams in the position to not be able to pay both a franchise QB and a defense. 2013 was not a long time ago by football standards, but 2001 was.

  12. line_hawk says:

    Supposition 1: I believe that QBs do adapt. Brady was very conservative in his first few years. He loosened up after 2007, it happens. Not suggesting Wilson should be jettisoned but don’t think Wilson being conservative here means he can’t sling it in another system.

    Supposition 2: It doesn’t matter if you pay Wilson 35M. The difference between Wilson at 35M and Garopollo or Stafford at 27M is peanuts and Wilson is better than them. If it was a huge difference, you have to think about it. But, going from 35 to 27 or 25 and getting a worse QB isn’t worth it. So, I agree with you.

    Supposition 3: I think the important question is if a team can win the SB paying their QB that much. As many folks on these threads have said, only Matt Ryan and the Mannings in the last 10 years have made to SB after accounting for more than 15% of the cap.

    In fact, the past 6 out of 9 years, the NFC was represented by a team with a QB on a rookie deal (the only exceptions were NYG, ATL, CAR). This is the new market inefficiency in the NFL. I believe you have to keep drafting QBs in this new model. As soon as you hit on one, you ride with him.. aka what Andy Reid did with Smith and Mahomes. Its like purchasing a lottery ticket.

  13. Jamho3 says:

    Agree w/both points well stated, well supported. +2

  14. Sea Mode says:

    The real question is: does RW really sleep with all those chains on??!! There’s gotta be a clause in the new contract that prohibits that… 😉

  15. Pickering says:

    Rob’s blog (and his guest writers – thank you Brandon Adams) is a great place for a fan like me who wants info on the Seahawks, and in this particular case the team’s dealings with Wilson, told objectively. In contrast, the local, corporate SBNation site (perhaps in need of more clicks?) spends too much space looking for problems with the team and for witches to burn. I don’t expect a constant supply of accenting the positive, e-liminating the negative when it comes to sports articles, but at my ever-aging age I don’t want to spend any more time than I have to looking for any more reasons to think ‘we’re doomed’.

    Thanks Rob and posters.

  16. Hawkin says:

    Welp, a deal was made in the 11tj hour after all. Judging by Wilson’s expression, he won. Obviously he won… he commanded negotiations. Let’s hope for the best when the details emerge.

  17. schuemansky says:

    Hope we can pass on to the draft now! And don’t have to pick Grier earlier the 4th round.

  18. Mike Garofolo:
    “The Russell Wilson deal could have a ripple effect on #Seahawks DE Frank Clark. A possible trade there was on hold while the team worked on the Wilson deal. Only so much money to go around. They’ll continue to listen to offers. Stay tuned on that front.”.

  19. Phew! Dying to see the terms, but God I am relieved. I’m curious if those earlier rumors about Clark will spur something happening shortly. We all brushed over them because it was deadline day, but because they came up again on a day the team likely knew they would ink Wilson, they may be legit rumors.

  20. Sea Mode says:

    There it is.

    Adam Schefter
    @AdamSchefter

    Russell Wilson and the Seahawks reached agreement on a 4-year, $140 million in new money extension that includes a $65 million signing bonus, per source.

  21. millhouse-serbia says:

    @ seamode

    Copy Russ and Bwag conversation from twitter here..it is nice to see two most important(with Frank) player appreciate each other so much…

    And look at your email…

  22. Sea Mode says:

    Bobby Wagner
    @Bwagz

    Congrats @DangeRussWilson ! Well deserved my g🙏🏾🙏🏾

    1:02 AM – 16 Apr 2019

    Russell Wilson
    @DangeRussWilson

    Replying to @Bwagz
    Love you homie. You next! Let’s go do this thing together! 🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾🏈

    1:04 AM – 16 Apr 2019

    • Hawkin says:

      That’s what we want to see from our QB! Let the team compete, win together. Though now rumors are swirling about a Clark trade citing not enough money to sign him. Wonder if the numbers work out that way. We should have a clearer picture now

  23. downtownjewelrybryan says:

    any guesses on the guaranteed? I’m thinking $110

  24. Tony says:

    Never a doubt! Now we can get back to draft stuff!

    • Rob Staton says:

      As glad as I am that it’s done… it was in doubt!

      • Hawkin says:

        Will be looking forward to your thoughts on the no trade clause. Glad this saga is over. Let’s hope somehow we can keep the other big three!

      • clbradley17 says:

        I was in doubt too Rob. Peter King said on John Clayton yesterday that Wilson and his agent had leverage if they took a hard line by not negotiating after midnight 4/15 and only playing on the franchise tag after that, possibly forcing an eventual trade. It did take until the last minute like it did on the last contract a few years ago, and I do give credit to Wilson, his agent and JS for working the last several days until late the night of the deadline to get it worked out.

        Bobby is supposedly already working on his contract. How do you suggest we move forward now that this is behind us? Lock up Frank or don’t worry as much about his franchise tag now that Wilson is signed, and sign BW and Reed first?

  25. EP says:

    Glad it’s done and over but a small part of me was secretly loving the idea of a trade and the madness that would ensue.

  26. GoHawksDani says:

    Thanks sweet baby Jesus that this saga ended. I’m happy because we know what we can expect of Russ and he’s a good/elite QB. But also happy because I’m a draft geek and it helps with the mock drafts for the next 10 days. We can most likely cross off Grier or any QB as the first pick and just focus on the strength and the needs for this draft

  27. Sea Mode says:

    Wow, a no trade clause to boot!

    Ian Rapoport
    @RapSheet

    Full details for the #Seahawks and QB Russell Wilson: 4 new years, $140M. $65M to sign. Total guarantee: $107M. A no-trade clause. … Now, Wilson is under contract for 5 years and $157M. And staying in Seattle.💰💰💰

    1:34 AM – 16 Apr 2019

    • GoHawksDani says:

      (counting all 5 years) So a pretty low 31,4m APY, a reasonable (but a bit high) 68% GTD with a 46% signing bonus.
      Counting only the new years it’s still friendly, 35m APY, 76% GTD.
      What does a no trade clause means? If they’d trade him they’d have to pay all the rest of his money, not just the GTD? Or they cannot even trade whatsoever?
      What could this mean? That Wilson fear they might draft a QB soon and try to trade him?
      What if Wilson would ask for a trade?
      I like this contract. Not 100% team friendly, but also not CAP breaker and good trade for both sides

  28. Hawkin says:

    http://twitter.com/RapSheet/status/1118070049984659456

    Interesting the no trade claus.. Wilson either really wants to stay here or he wants to choose the team he goes to next.

  29. clbradley17 says:

    GREAT NEWS!!!

    “Hey Seattle, we got a deal,” Wilson said in the video. He and Ciara both let out a “Go Hawks” after a bit of laughter before Wilson summed up the night perfectly.

    “But I’m going to see y’all in the morning. Time for y’all to go to bed.”

  30. Austin says:

    Good stuff Rob. I think too often both sides paint the other in the extreme. Wilson is very efficient and on a hall of fame trajectory. Most wins, 2nd highest passer rating of all time, SB appearences etc I could go on and on. His first 7 years are in the argument for best ever at his position. Having said that I think its fair to wonder if a slight change to Pete’s current philosophy wouldn’t help Wilson even more. And for the record Pete, Schott, Russ and now recently Duane Brown coming out and saying they should have leaned on Russell earlier in the Dallas game and pass more than they did. This debate almost feels like American politics and that you have to be either/or and the other side is completely wrong when in reality, and I think Pete would even agree, there is some merit to both sides of this debate.

    For whatever its worth I do think we see a slight shift in the offense. It will still be a run heavy, play action deep pass offense but they will try to lean on Russ a little more. It wont be like 2017 when they couldn’t run and played behind a historically bad line but the needle might move slightly. With Russ pushing for it, Brown talking about and even the coaches I would be shocked if it doesn’t.

  31. Austin says:

    And that’s a compliment to Pete and the staff. Schott has also talked about how he wants to improve, self evaluate, continue to adopt and get better. So before someone takes this as a shot at Pete/Schott its not, its actually a compliment. I don’t think anyone thinks they were perfect in their approach(no one is not even the patriots) and they recognize the need to improve and they are motivated by it. That’s the sign of a good staff.

  32. Ken says:

    Go HAWKS!! Just a comment on the folks that gripe about MISTAKES by PC/JS. ALL TEAMS MAKE MISTAKES. This is not a foolproof business. I love PC/JS because since it is all a gamble…..they gamble big. Good job PC/JS and I’m with you guys all the way.

Leave a Reply