Thoughts on Russell Wilson’s form
I’m not going to rehash everything I wrote a few days ago about Wilson and the Seahawks but I think that article is worth another viewing prior to the playoffs.
It was put to Pete Carroll after the 49ers game whether he’s asked Wilson and Brian Schottenheimer to take more ‘calculated risks’, since a flurry of turnovers at mid-season:
“I don’t want to comment too much about that at this point because everybody’s going to try and figure out how to beat us”
So basically, yes. And it’s clear. They are taking fewer shots. The deep-ball to D.K. Metcalf has virtually disappeared. Wilson scored 28 passing touchdowns in the first half of the season compared to 12 in the second half.
They are much more conservative. Carroll believes winning the turnover battle is going to be critical to the success of the team. He can point to the stats to back that up. In games with multiple turnovers this season, the Seahawks are 0-4. They’ve won every game they’ve played with one turnover or no turnovers.
The problem is, you can’t be conservative if the other team doesn’t allow it to happen. If you get behind against a high-powered offense, as we saw in Green Bay last season, you have to chase the game.
That’s not an environment conducive with protecting the football.
So while the idea makes sense — the Seahawks are now playing a brand of ball where they need a certain type of game to happen. It might be harder to have that type of game against Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees or Tom Brady compared to C.J. Beathard, Jared Goff, Sam Darnold, Dwayne Haskins and Colt McCoy.
I stand by what I wrote in the piece last week. I think the way these playoffs play out will very likely have an impact on the relationship between the team and quarterback.
I think Carroll has really reigned in Wilson. He was turning the ball over too much. I suspect Carroll associates that with ‘cooking’ and there won’t be a return to the style of play that saw Wilson put up MVP caliber numbers to start the season.
Pete-ball, it seems, is here to stay.
I think Wilson is rolling with it because he’s a pro and they’re in the playoffs now. They’ve won their last four. If Carroll is right and this brand of football delivers a serious Super Bowl push, he will be validated.
If they lose in the wildcard or divisional around again playing this way and suffer a defeat ala Dallas in 2018, I’m not convinced Wilson will be content. I think that could create an issue. Because while it’s certainly true that Wilson needs to play better — I also think his poor play in recent weeks is indicative of a cautious, perhaps even shackled player who does not look comfortable.
And unless they’re winning titles, I don’t see this brand of football chiming with the brand that is Wilson. Eventually there will come a point where the team and the player view things too differently.
It will pain Wilson to see analysis like this, where he is compared to Baker Mayfield rather than the two names at the top of the list. He wants to be talked about in the same breath as Rodgers, Mahomes and Watson. He wants to be a serious MVP candidate. He wants to play with the freedom those players are offered.
If he’s not getting that — winning is the ultimate and only consolation prize.
So I think the playoffs are big — for Wilson, the Seahawks and their future relationship.
And while I pointed out in my previous piece how a trade in 2021 was most unlikely due to cost — we’re also entering a period in NFL history when who the hell knows what’s going on with the cap? The Saints are a projected $99m over the cap for 2021. The Eagles are $71m over and they’re supposedly going to trade Carson Wentz, taking on a dead cap hit worth tens of millions.
It’s almost as if Covid-19 has broken the salary cap and the league is going to have to come up with solutions to avoid the situation becoming a shambles.
If that shambles remains, however, teams might just do what they want. After all — if the Saints can be $99m over the cap, why can’t every other team? What are the consequences for New Orleans?
It feels like we’re entering an off-season like no other — in more ways than one.
I’m also happy to admit to the speculative nature of both this piece and the previous article. I think the other piece highlights why I think it’s a worthy topic of discussion. I don’t intend to make this a weekly feature of the blog but I do think it’s a conversation point nobody else is really talking about.
Linebackers deserve praise
There are a lot of legendary players from this era of Seahawks football. We’ll all remember Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, Kam Chancellor, Richard Sherman, Doug Baldwin, Bobby Wagner, Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett, Earl Thomas and others.
As mentioned in the podcast yesterday (see below) — I hope K.J. Wright is as fondly remembered as anyone.
He is football perfection. Physical, tough, assignment sound, he makes plays, he leads, he has tremendous character, he’s humble. As a fan he is everything you want in a player.
I can’t imagine a better representation of an organisation. A superior role model.
K.J. Wright has been a fantastic player, a brilliant success story for the Seahawks and he deserves to be remembered as one of the greats.
They might’ve drafted Jordyn Brooks with the intention of potentially replacing Wright next year, given he’s out of contract. I think he needs to be kept. He’s been too good this season. The switch to SAM has been a revelation. He’s achieved a status where he deserves to play for the Seahawks for as long as he wants.
I really hope there’s a deal to be done there. Wright is the third best performer on the defense according to PFF. He’s playing too well to move on.
Equally I think it’s time to acknowledge the progress Jordyn Brooks is making. The typical rookie errors are lessening and the physicality is blossoming — as we saw with his tremendous hit on George Kittle (who was blocking) before making a tackle on Sunday.
Brooks led the team in tackles against the Niners — that’s the second game in a row. He is showing a lot of potential.
I’m still not 100% sure a first round pick on a linebacker of the future was completely the best use of Seattle’s top resource in 2020 — especially with the holes they’re going to need to fill coming up. That shouldn’t reflect on how he is playing though. He’s showing big steps forward and he looks like a player with a bright future.
If you missed yesterday’s instant reaction podcast, please check it out below:
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