The post-mortem never ends! After such an interesting football season, there’s no way to limit the discourse to just a week’s worth of posts, so here we are, bleeding into Week Two.
As has been discussed previously, when the Seahawks opened the season with a pass-heavy offensive attack, it was shocking to say the least. Let Russ Cook went from a back-alley, grassroots Internet plea, to our weekly reality! No one could’ve seen it coming; since when do teams ever listen to their fans when it comes to scheme? Literally never. Not one single time in the history of recorded sports (probably; I have no idea, actually).
Of course, not for nothing, but “Let Russ Cook” and all its culinary derivatives quickly became an overused cliche, followed by a detestful reminder of bygone days never to be seen again.
Even if we had let ourselves dream big – that maybe one day Pete Carroll would see the light and turn the keys to the offense over to our quarterback – those ideals were quickly dashed when we ultimately came to the realization that if Wilson ever shit the bed, Carroll would be all too happy to take the power back and assert his dominance.
We had five good weeks. Five weeks of living the dream. Six weeks, if you include the happiness hangover of the Seahawks’ BYE. But, then came the Arizona game.
That was one we should have won, but lost. That was one we had ample opportunities to win, and failed at every turn. To that point, Russell Wilson had thrown 19 touchdowns and only 3 interceptions, and had zero games with multiple turnovers. Against Arizona, it was a 3/3 split. The first interception was that infamous one thrown at the Arizona goalline, that Budda Baker returned for 90 yards until D.K. Metcalf made him his prey. We like to gloss over that one because of how fast Metcalf ran, and because the defense ultimately held the Cardinals to 0 points, turning it over on downs. BUT, the ultimate takeaway (as it were) is that the Seahawks missed out on 7 points on that drive, in a game they lost by 3 in overtime. The second interception was another poor decision, lobbed from the Arizona 30 yard line. Considering our field goal kicker was perfect this year, it’s safe to say that’s another 3 points we were deprived of. And, finally, in overtime, we had the ball with under two minutes to go. That’s a situation where Russell Wilson is supposed to earn his money! You’re a franchise quarterback, so you MUST go out there and win the game in that scenario. We got to midfield and Wilson sealed his fate with his final INT of the game.
The thing is, it’s not like Wilson was on a short leash. This wasn’t a One Strike & You’re Out deal. Wilson came back and threw 4 more TDs against an injury-ravaged 49ers team the very next week.
Then came the Bills game. Two more interceptions, including a failed 4th & 1 play at the Buffalo 5 yard line. Not only didn’t we trust our offense to run the ball for a yard (to be fair, Travis Homer failed in that charge on 3rd & 1 the play prior), but Wilson ultimately couldn’t get the job done with his arm OR his legs. Wilson went on to take a miserable sack with a lost fumble to start the second half (when we were already down by 14) and then threw a desperation INT in the fourth quarter to salt the game away.
To compound matters, the very next week at the Rams, Wilson had arguably his worst game of the season: 0 TDs, 2 INTs. Poor decisionmaking all around in this one. We never had a chance. That effectively made it the requisite Three Strikes & Your Out scenario we’d all been dreading (with that Giants loss a fourth strike to put yet another nail in the coffin of the Let Russ Cook movement).
There were countless instances of Wilson trying to throw the ball into tight windows when he would’ve been better served to check down, run with it, or throw the ball away. There were SO MANY times he held the ball WAY too long, resulting in a sack. As I’ve said repeatedly, he’s not the speedster he once was; he’s not scrambling his way out of these jams like he used to. I don’t know how much of that is on him, vs. how much of that is on the offensive plays that were being called (the plays designed by the fired Brian Schottenheimer), but clearly the coaching staff believes the OC was at fault, and I’m inclined to agree.
What’s more likely: a quarterback on a Hall of Fame track, suddenly turning into the second coming of Matt Schaub? Or, that quarterback trying to make due as best as he could with poorly-designed plays and an offensive coordinator too inept to adjust to the way opposing defenses adjusted to him in the first place? Tack on, admittedly, Wilson trying to do too much (under so much pressure to win, on top of self-imposed pressure to stay in the MVP race), and that’s a recipe for what we saw in the second half of this season, culminating with one of the very worst playoff losses in Seahawks history.
So, maybe Wilson DOES have someone else to blame but himself. But, I’m still under the impression that he would have preferred the Seahawks retain Brian Schottenheimer; Schotty would’ve given Wilson the best opportunity to continue cooking, as it were. I still keep coming back to that Cardinals game. At that point, defenses hadn’t really figured us out yet. And so many of his errors in that one were COMPLETELY unforced! Even if we had gone on to lose to the Bills and Rams, as well as one of our final seven games (a la the Giants), if we’d just swept the Cardinals like we were supposed to, we would’ve been 13-3, the #1 seed in the NFC, and we would have hosted our first playoff game this past weekend (instead of, again, out of the playoffs entirely thanks to last week’s upset). I’m assuming that the Packers or Saints would have taken care of business against the Rams, and we would have faced Tom Brady and the Bucs for the right to go up against the winner of the Packers/Saints in the NFC Championship Game. A game that also would’ve been played in Seattle (had we prevailed against Tampa in this alternate universe).
Instead, we’re sitting at home watching all the action. Russell Wilson STILL won’t have an MVP award in his trophy case. And next year he’s going to have to figure it out with a new man calling plays for this offense. A man, by all accounts, who will push for Pete Carroll’s run-heavy approach. Possibly meaning that Wilson will NEVER get his MVP award, so long as he’s on the Seahawks and Carroll is the one in charge.
So, yeah, ultimately it’s on Wilson. Had he made better decisions – even with the crappy plays that were called – we wouldn’t be in this mess.