I was expecting to look at the stats for Russell Wilson this past season and write a headline something to the effect of, “What The Shit Happened To Russell Wilson?!” But, really, the numbers are more or less in line with many of his seasons. His passer rating is on the higher side of his average, he had the second-most total passing yards, a career high in passing touchdowns, a career low in fumbles lost. And even though he had a career high in interceptions, that’s countered by highs in attempts, completions, and completion percentage (getting the closest to that elusive 70% number yet, with his 68.8%).
What is concerning, however, is his yards per attempt average of 7.5, which is his second-worst season in that regard and points to a drastic drop in efficiency. This is made all the more glaring if you simply split the season in half.
Over the first eight games of the season, Wilson’s numbers look like this:
- 211/297 (71.04%), 2,541 yards (8.56 yards per attempt), 28 TDs, 8 INTs, 117.1 passer rating
Extrapolate that over a full season and you’re looking at over 5,000 yards and 56 TDs. Both of those numbers would’ve EASILY led the league and even with the uptick in interceptions, would’ve made a strong case for MVP contention. Talk about Russell Wilson and the MVP award now and you’ll be laughed out of the room!
And, you can easily see why that is. Instead of over 5,000 yards, he finished at 4,212. Instead of 56 TDs, he finished with 40. And while he only had 13 INTs instead of 16, the completion percentage and passer rating went down, as well as – most glaringly of all – the average yards per attempt dropped a full yard! Because of his numbers over the final eight games of the season:
- 173/261 (66.28%), 1,671 yards (6.40 yards per attempt), 12 TDs, 5 INTs, 91.3 passer rating
That’s pretty abysmal. Extrapolate THOSE numbers over a full season and you’re talking about the very worst season of Russell Wilson’s career.
I don’t want to get too far into the weeds here, but I will say there’s an obvious uptick in strength of opponent in the latter half. Between the Rams, 49ers, and Football Team, that’s four games right there against defenses in the Top 5 in yards allowed (including the Giants and Cardinals, that’s six games against defenses in the Top 13). I don’t know how that compares to some of the other elite quarterbacks I could compare Wilson to this year, but that’s a pretty brutal stretch any way you slice it.
The discouraging thing is: what do we have to look forward to in the playoffs? The Rams in the first round (#1 defense in yards AND points allowed), probably the Saints in the second round (#4 defense in yards & #5 in points), and then probably the Packers in the Championship Game if we make it that far (#9 in yards, #13 in points). So, it’s not getting a whole lot easier for Wilson going forward.
What I’d like to know – and it’s something we probably won’t fully understand until the season is over and the nerds can analyze every game – is how much of this drop-off in production is due to defenses figuring the Seahawks out, vs. how much is due to not having our full complement of starting offensive linemen all playing together? I refuse to believe that all of this is due to the league catching up to what the Seahawks were trying out over the first five weeks of the season. It never works like that! It usually takes a full year – and subsequent offseason – for defenses to figure these things out. Sure, little adjustments can be made here and there, but I’m not buying it.
From my eye, this is a Russell Wilson problem more than it is anything else. He just looks … off. Especially on his deep throws. I know those are the hardest passes to complete on a regular basis, but until this year he’s been completing them at an amazing clip; or, at the very least, giving his receivers a chance to go up and make a play. But, through the last half of the season, he’s been wildly off-target. Our guys don’t even have a chance to get a lot of these balls, which makes the times where the misses are close all the more frustrating. To me, that isn’t a change in defensive scheme. Even though it doesn’t look like it to see him, I wouldn’t be shocked if he’s got some arm injury that he’s trying to play through, like a rotator cuff or something.
If it’s not that, then I wonder if he’s a little more wary of all the shuffling that’s gone on with our offensive line. I think I read somewhere that the Seahawks have only had five games this season with our official Starting Five (the first five weeks of the season, when obviously Wilson was off-the-charts great). Ever since then, either one or more of our guys have been out every single week, with the recent culprits being Mike Iupati and Brandon Shell. It looks like maybe both should be back this week (Shell, at least), which will hopefully stabilize things against an incredibly amazing Rams front four.
Anyway, I hope that’s all it is, because as a 3-seed, we’re going to need Russell Wilson to step up more than ever.
This year, the Seahawks were 8-3 in one-score games. The 49ers game last week was one of only three instances where the Seahawks managed to execute a fourth quarter come-from-behind victory, with the other two being against the Vikings and Cowboys early in the season. The rest of those victories were of the hang-on variety, where our defense gave up late scores to make it close (or otherwise prevented teams from completing their own come-from-behind victories).
Those three losses were telling, as all came in that stretch between the Vikings game in Week 5 and the 49ers game in Week 17. We had AMPLE opportunities to come back in those games. The first Cardinals game, obviously, went late into overtime; the Rams were held to just six second-half points in a game we lost by seven; and that fucking Giants game saw the Seahawks take the ball with just under two minutes left in the game – at our 20 yard line – with two time outs, down by 5 points. With a Russell Wilson at the helm, I’m sorry, but that’s a game you HAVE to find a way to win.
I dunno, maybe there’s only a finite amount of magic inside Wilson every year, and he’s been holding some in reserve for this playoff run. I hope so! Because as things stand now, we have the most difficult road to the Super Bowl of all the divisional winners in the NFC. I would hate to have that Giants loss continue to loom in the forefront of my brain for the entire offseason.