All The Russell Wilson Chatter Is Boring To Me

Russell Wilson’s personality is as bland and vanilla as it gets in sports. He spews an avalanche of clichés in every single interview, as if his brain is on autopilot, and some artificial intelligence pulls random clips from its central database, shoving them out of his mouth as quickly as his vocal chords can formulate the sounds. Do you want to meet the absolute KING of being non-controversial? I have yet to find anyone who says less with more than Russell Wilson.

Which is why his recent barnstorming of national sports media entities has been so noteworthy. It feels like he’s finally saying something! Maybe even – *GASP* – speaking his own mind?!

Apparently, in this world we live in today, you always have to take a side (as if the issues aren’t more nuanced and complex than that, be it politics, religion, or the highest paid member of a football team and his desire to not be hit so fucking much). Some people are upset with Russell Wilson; they feel he’s throwing both the offensive line and the organization as a whole under the bus (especially those in charge of personnel). I can see that, in a sense. He’s the highest paid player on the team and one of the highest paid players in the entire league; quit your bitching and do your fucking job. If you’re going to hamstring an organization with your astronomical salary – when guys like Tom Brady (guys you’re envious of, because he wins so much) take slightly less in guaranteed money to help their teams fill out their rosters with higher-calibre talent – then you don’t get to complain when they don’t have enough money to stack the O-Line full of All Pros.

I mean, I guess they could stack the line like that, if they wanted to have zero talent whatsoever on defense.

It’s a team game. Football teams are quite large. You have to pay 53 of them and then some, and there’s only so many high-value contracts to go around. When one player – like, say, the quarterback – takes up anywhere from 15-20% of the salary cap, that’s obviously going to be to the detriment of the rest of the roster. As any douchebag on the prowl in a nightclub will tell you, it’s a numbers game!

That being said, Russell Wilson has a point. He’s being sacked too damn much. He’s being hit too damn much. While he has been remarkably durable in his nine seasons – never missing a game – if we’re not more careful, one of those hits WILL seriously injure him. And then where will we be?

Now, obviously, as I said before, this is a team game. It’s not all on the offensive line. Russell Wilson shoulders his share of the blame, and he’s owned up to that. People seem to want to gloss over that fact, particularly when they think he’s denigrating his O-Line; I guess people will always hear what they want to hear, and read into things when they’re not necessarily there. But, it’s also true that TOO OFTEN, he’s being pressured before he has anywhere to go with the football. As a winner, as a never-give-up kind of guy (a trait we’ve come to admire since he got here), Wilson is going to try to do whatever it takes to make a play. Think of all the dazzling highlights over the years that have come off of busted plays! Those are firmly entrenched in our memory banks for the rest of time!

While the O-Line had a pretty good rate of success in pass protection this past season, I would question who the competition is from game to game. Are the games against inferior defenses propping up the utter disasters, like we saw against the Rams (THREE FUCKING TIMES), when they ran roughshod over our O-Line like they were a wet paper sack? I don’t care about our pass protection success rate against the likes of the Jets, Falcons, and an injury-ravaged 49ers team; I care when we’re going up against the elite defenses and can’t do a God damned thing offensively to move the ball!

That isn’t Russell’s fault. Especially those fucking Rams games.

If I were Wilson, I’d be furious too, seeing what Tom Brady had to enjoy in his playoff run. They played three games, all on the road, leading up to hosting the Super Bowl, and he was NEVER pressured all that much. Maybe a little in that Green Bay game, but they still put up plenty of points. To absolutely dominate a solid Chiefs defense in that Super Bowl was a masterclass in protection and play-calling.

Which gets me back to the whole team aspect. It’s not all on Wilson’s shoulders, nor is it all on the O-Line, but you have to throw play-calling and offensive scheme into the mix.

Ultimately, this makes the timing of this media campaign so confusing, because the Seahawks seemed to have already put in the work to deal with this issue in hiring Shane Waldron from the Rams. We’re assuming, with good reason, that our offense going forward will feature a much quicker passing game, based on timing and improved route running to get guys open easier. So, Wilson won’t have to spend more than 2.5 seconds on the regular waiting for guys to get open, only to huck up a 50/50 ball or throw it out of bounds while getting smashed by very large defensive linemen.

This is a guy, not for nothing, who was reported to be a favored choice of Wilson to boot! He got what he wanted: he had input about the team’s next offensive coordinator (and, by design, input into how the offense will function going forward). And he’s still complaining? What’s the endgame here?

If it’s telling the front office to find a better left guard, I think they got the hint. If Mike Iupati is re-signed one more fucking time, I’ll fucking lose my shit! He is TOO OLD! Retire already; you are literally going to kill yourself decades prematurely at this rate! Other than that, and maybe improving the center spot, I think you have to be relatively happy with the offensive line we have. Duane Brown is still playing at a Pro Bowl level, Damien Lewis looks like an entrenched starter at right guard for the next decade, and Brandon Shell played MUCH better than any of us expected, until someone rolled up on his ankle and he had to miss time and play hurt the rest of the way.

If it has to do with protection under those circumstances – of injury and the like – then a better scheme (not just with routes, but also extra protections/chips on the end of the line) should help fix that as well.

But, if Wilson’s ultimate objective is more ulterior, then clearly we have a bigger problem on our hands. Many believe this is his way of ultimately forcing his way out of Seattle. I don’t think that’s a surprise to anyone, particularly when he ended up marrying Ciara; not that I would put the blame on her in any way. I believe Russell Wilson wants to be a mogul and he’s always had that as his goal; marrying someone like Ciara is just part of that. But, he wants to be a mover and a shaker, and for some reason you can’t do that in a place like Seattle? It has to be L.A. or New York or maybe Florida or Texas or Chicago.

If this was just about football, and being the best quarterback of all time, there’s no reason why he couldn’t do that here. The Seahawks are one of the most stable, successful organizations in the NFL; if he wanted to, he could win all he wants here. But, he’s about more than football.

I agree with the point that Mike Salk made on the Brock & Salk podcast this week; I think this is the beginning of the end. It started a teensy bit last year when he made a comment about wanting more stars on the Seahawks. It’s ballooned out here with his latest comments about not wanting to be hit so hard. This coincides with a reduction of the NFL’s salary cap, at a time when the Seahawks have little wiggle room to acquiesce to his demands. If you think the Seahawks are in a position to go out and sign a high-priced offensive lineman, you’re out of your mind! So, when the Seahawks ultimately fail to cave in to Wilson’s demands – not because they’re unreasonable, but because they financially can’t afford to at this moment in time – Wilson can look back and say, “Hey, I tried, but they won’t play ball with me, so I want out.” That could be as early as next offseason – assuming we fail to win it all, as we most likely won’t – but I bet if it doesn’t, it’s at least within the next two years.

If Russell Wilson ends up signing another extension with the Seahawks – beyond this one that is set to expire after 2023, not counting Franchise Tag years – I will be SHOCKED.

At which point, assuming the Seahawks don’t win a Super Bowl next season, maybe he’ll be doing us a favor by demanding a trade. If we can get a crazy-high draft pick, or take on some other team’s disgruntled superstar quarterback, maybe it’ll be better for everyone?

But, for right now, it’s all just noise and speculation. I wouldn’t even be writing about it if there was literally ANYTHING ELSE in Seattle sports to talk about.

It’s Time For The Seahawks To Face Up To What Russell Wilson Can & Can’t Do

Russell Wilson is 32 years old. 2021 will be his tenth season in the NFL, following a full four years in college. As has been discussed previously – but hasn’t been made a big-enough deal of – he’s no longer a spring chicken. Yes, he can still run – he’s run for over 4,500 yards in his NFL career, including 513 in 2020 – but he can’t escape like he used to. It used to be pretty rare when a defensive lineman brought him down in the open field; now it’s happening regularly. He isn’t able to juke guys and get around them as much as before. It’s father time! He is, and always will be, undefeated.

It took a few years before the league came to terms with the fact that Russell Wilson is a quality pocket passer. We saw what he was capable of in the latter half of 2015, when he put it all together and shredded the league with his arm. That’s been the version of Russell Wilson we’ve been trying ever-since to recapture. Over the last half-decade, Wilson has been more of a pocket passer, and the results have been great. Yet, every year after his rookie season, he’s been sacked a MINIMUM of 40 times; he’s almost always at or near the top in all of football. That can’t continue. Not with his aging body and slowing legs.

It makes sense, though. While the Seahawks’ offensive line has been better the last few years, it has never TRULY been great (and some seasons, it’s been among the very worst in the game). And, to be honest, I don’t think the O-Line has EVER been particularly good at pass protection since Pete Carroll joined the organization; he likes to run the ball, he wants guys who can make that happen, to the detriment of our quarterback’s safety. We’ve been able to manage thanks to Wilson’s legs and his ability to make plays out of thin air. Yet, even at his most fleet-of-foot, he’s still been knocked on his ass more than just about anyone else over the life of his NFL career.

With Shane Waldron as our new offensive coordinator, the hope is that the Seahawks’ offense will look a lot more like the Rams’ offense. If it works out the way it should, this might be the smartest hire by Pete Carroll since he decided to hitch his wagon to John Schneider as General Manager.

The Rams specialize in lots of running and lots of play action passing. The Rams love to run a wide variety of plays out of similar-looking pre-snap sets, to better fool opposing defenses and keep them on their toes just a fraction of a second longer (that fraction is all the difference you need in the NFL).

The Rams also do what the Seahawks have been completely incapable of doing – except for that brief run in 2015 – get the ball out of their quarterback’s hands quickly. Jared Goff, for all his faults, has yet to be sacked more than 33 times in a season (and other than that one year, he’s never been sacked more than 25 times since he became a full-time starter). Imagine what the Seahawks could do if we were able to shed TWENTY sacks from Wilson’s body every year!

While the O-Line – and its construction by the people in charge – deserves its share of the blame, just as much should be placed on the scheme itself. Yes, Russell Wilson is one of the best deep-ball passers in the NFL. But, taking so many shots also comes with a lot more risk: holding the ball a lot longer, waiting for guys to get open. If those guys end up covered, that leaves Wilson trying to find other alternatives; it’s in that amount of time where the pocket usually collapses, leaving Wilson either running for his life, or cowering under the combined weight of multiple linemen closing in around him. If Wilson is forced to get the ball out quickly – by completing more short and intermediate crossing routes – then that’s less on his shoulders. Taking some of the decision-making off of his plate should be only to the team’s benefit. Wilson is always going to want to make the big highlight play; eliminating that as an option in favor of safer, less-sexy passing plays, should help us in that almighty metric of 3rd down conversion percentage.

And, while Wilson is slower, he’s not yet a total statue. Tom Brady has made a career out of quick passing, but he can’t run for shit unless it’s a quarterback sneak that only needs to get one yard! With Wilson’s legs – and the Rams’ style of offense that loves to feature designed quarterback roll-outs – the Seahawks should be able to take advantage of those plays far better than the Rams ever could with Goff; and, to his credit, Goff was good-enough on those types of plays as it was. These plays can still allow for Wilson to gain yards with his legs, but it should also drastically reduce the number of “playground” type plays where Wilson has to escape danger and throw long on the fly. These types of plays dried up CONSIDERABLY over the last half of the 2020 season, because of Wilson’s decline and the league catching up to what we’ve been doing all along. So, maybe it’s time to put those plays to rest in favor of something new.

I hope Waldron is able to fully implement the Rams’ style of offense, I hope the Seahawks have players who can adapt to it, and I hope everyone is able to buy in and let the new guy run the show (I’m looking at you, Meddling Pete Carroll). Word on the street is, Brian Schottenheimer either chose to keep, or was forced to keep, about 70% of Darrell Bevell’s playbook during the previous offensive coordinator change-over. That better not happen here. It’s time for the Seahawks to make wholesale changes. I don’t care how difficult it’s going to be with COVID-19 and the lack of in-person instruction. Make this new scheme easy to understand on paper, so when we finally can congregate together later in the summer, we’ll be off and running and ready to dominate in 2021.

The Seahawks Hired Shane Waldron To Be Their Offensive Coordinator

We briefly interrupt our Mariners 2021 pre-season coverage to bring you an announcement: the Seahawks did a thing!

The Brian Schottenheimer era was never dull, even if he himself was never all that exciting. I seem to remember being a bit higher on him as a hire than most Seahawks fans (there was A LOT of dread in the Pacific Northwest about him bringing this offense to new lows), as throughout his coordinating career he’d been saddled with mediocre-to-bad quarterbacks; until he met up with Russell Wilson, he’d never really had a chance to show what he could do. And what happened? In Schotty’s three years, he led three of the eight highest scoring offenses in franchise history; including two of the top three (including the number one overall in 2020).

But, obviously, things soured over the final half of this past season. I wonder if it’ll ever come out exactly what happened when he and the Seahawks parted ways. I still have a hunch that Pete Carroll gave him a My Way Or The Highway speech and Schotty took the highway on out of town. Considering Schottenheimer’s stock was as low as it gets when he was originally hired, I’d love to get a peek inside his head to see if this was some sort of power play gone awry; that either he was angling to be the Head Coach In Waiting here, or if he wanted more autonomy over the offense so he could move on to be promoted somewhere else.

Anyway, regardless, after a 12-4 division-winning season, the Seahawks were suddenly on the hunt for a new offensive coordinator. And there were rumors aplenty! Retreads and up-and-comers, and in-house candidates all across the football map. Whenever this happens, I try to stay out of the fire and look on from a distance; I don’t like doing a lot of research into candidates who aren’t likely to be hired for my team. So, I’ll admit, Shane Waldron – Passing Game Coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams since 2018 – wasn’t on my radar (then again, you could fill a book with the guys who weren’t on my radar).

What is a Passing Game Coordinator? Well, if you’re cynical like me and think it’s just a meaningless promotion in-name-only, you’re not far off! If you’re also cynical like me, it’s easy to be skeptical when we’re talking about hiring someone from the Rams. The Sean McVay Coaching Tree hasn’t exactly been full of ripe, blossoming fruit; it’s kind of been full of worms and tent caterpillars. McVay has been a hotshot ever since he went to L.A. He’s a brilliant offensive mind and his teams were pretty unstoppable for a while. Obviously, I think a lot of that has to do with him being the one calling the plays. On top of that, the Rams also have an offensive coordinator in Kevin O’Connell. That means, not only does their O.C. not call the plays, but we just hired the guy THIRD in command of that offense (who, again, also never called plays).

What we’re hoping for, I guess, is that some of the McVay Magic rubbed off on Waldron. I have my doubts about that, but we’ll see. It’s discouraging that he was already on staff coming into 2020 (as the passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach) when they plucked O’Connell from the scrap heap (makes you wonder how much smoke McVay was blowing up his ass in that article). There’s a lot we don’t know about his role with the Rams, but I can’t imagine he had a ton of say about the direction of the offense when he had two guys ahead of him in the pecking order to answer to.

Where I’m encouraged is with the offense he could be bringing over from the Rams. We don’t know how he’ll be at calling plays; I’m sure that will be trial by fire and there will be a big learning curve for him to overcome. But, from a scheme standpoint, I could see things getting a lot more creative, based on what the Rams have been able to do the last few years (with, mind you, an inferior quarterback with no mobility whatsoever). The Rams run the style of offense I think a lot of Seahawks fans have been clamoring for. They still run the ball quite a bit – which I know is near and dear to Pete Carroll’s heart – but they also build off of that by running tons of Play Action, and that is quite frankly what the Seahawks do best, and what they haven’t done NEARLY enough, throughout the run of Russell Wilson’s career, and in particular in 2020. The Seahawks should be running Play Action more than ANY other team in the league! It should be an obnoxiously-high percentage of our passing plays!

What I also like about what the Rams have done is they make sure to have options at all levels of the passing game. It’s not just deep balls and check-downs; they have been able to scheme receivers open at the intermediate level to a degree you just don’t see outside of Kansas City and maybe a couple of other teams. It’s something that I thought Darrell Bevell didn’t get enough credit for during his time here (with Doug Baldwin being a big part of that, knowing where to get open in various zones), and it’s something that I thought has been sorely lacking since Schottenheimer was hired.

The point is – as always – it’s far too soon to know if this is a good or bad hire. We’ll find out. Sean McVay was just some relative nobody before he took the football world by storm. I will say this, I’d rather have second- and third-wave hires from the McVay Coaching Tree than some of those first-wave guys (many of whom have already gone on to failure). Shane Waldron has had a lot of time working under McVay, so if indeed there is any magic to rub onto him, it’s more likely it would have after four seasons than it would be after one.

What ultimately blows my mind is how people started to question whether or not this was a good opportunity for someone. There are only (I would assume) 32 offensive coordinator spots in the NFL. This isn’t an easy job to earn! It’s often a stepping stone to being a head coach; if that’s your ultimate goal, I would think being ANY team’s O.C. and primary play-caller is high on your list. So, that alone cuts through most of that argument. But, when you compare the Seahawks to the rest of the NFL, look at what you have: one of the longest-tenured head coaches and general managers (lots of stability and a culture of winning already established); one of the best quarterbacks in the game; a duo of receivers that rank among the best in the league today, with lots of complementary talent around them to help make this unit hum; and it was a Top 10 scoring team as recently as this past season! Who wouldn’t want to work with this group? How many better opportunities are out there, either available right this moment, or exist PERIOD? When you look at all the dysfunctional franchises in the league, when you hear reports of all these quarterbacks potentially changing teams, when you know of all the instability built into the NFL based on everyone’s high expectations of winning at all costs, it’s asinine to me why anyone would turn this job down.

If that ultimately boils down to Pete Carroll and his meddling ways, well … then maybe we have bigger problems here than I realized.