In the eight quarters since Russell Wilson's return from finger surgery, the Seahawks have found the end zone just once. They've been outscored 40-13 in a pair of losses to the Packers and Cardinals, dropping them to a record of 3-7 on the year. In that time, Wilson ranks 20th out of 22 NFL quarterbacks in passer rating (55.6) and dead-last in completion percentage (51.5).
Missing games for the first time in his illustrious 10-year career, Wilson is clearly dealing with both the rust of being away and the natural negative effects of a throwing hand injury.
He was initially projected to miss anywhere between six-to-eight weeks after suffering an extensor tendon rupture and a comminuted fracture-dislocation of the proximal interphalangeal joint in his right middle finger. Dr. Steven Shin, who performed Wilson's reconstructive surgery, claimed he had never seen "such a severe injury to the throwing hand of an NFL quarterback." Therefore, when Seattle's superstar passer miraculously returned to action in a matter of just four weeks, it came as quite the surprise.
However, just as feared, it looks as if his quick turnaround was premature, exhibited both by Wilson's play and the way the Seahawks have constructed their offensive attack over the past two weeks. He'll say otherwise, but the results ultimately speak for themselves.
Against the Packers, the Seahawks' handling of the situation was, frankly, confusing. They felt Wilson wasn't healthy enough to take direct snaps from under center, yet they leaned on him for 48 called dropbacks to just 11 designed runs. He was not prepared for such a heavy workload, coming off indecisive in his reads, firing several inaccurate passes and making a few uncharacteristically poor decisions.
The accuracy issues plagued him versus the Cardinals as well. Two throws inside the red zone particularly stood out: one in which he overthrew an open Gerald Everett towards the back of the end zone, and another where he spiked the ball at Freddie Swain's feet just shy of the goal line.
Seattle's play-calling, whether it be from offensive coordinator Shane Waldron or Wilson himself, was also oddly conservative at times. A prime example of this was a 3rd and 7 swing route to DeeJay Dallas—a should-be "layup" of a pass that had no shot of making it anywhere near the line to gain. And even then, Wilson wasn't able to deliver an accurate ball to his intended target, who bobbled it off an awkward angle.
Mechanically and mentally, Wilson just isn't capable of playing to his standard right now, and the lack of offensive success is only making him press more. It's understandably frustrating for both him and the team, because his return was intended to mark a significant midseason turnaround and a second-half surge towards the postseason. Instead, the Seahawks have found themselves practically out of the hunt in two weeks' time.
Technically, they're still only two games out of the NFC's sixth and seventh seeds, but both of the teams they're currently chasing, the Saints and Vikings, hold the head-to-head tiebreaker against them. Plus, only one team in the conference is worse off than they are, record-wise: the 0-9-1 Lions. So not only do they have to win three more games than New Orleans and Minnesota the rest of the way, they also have to leapfrog seven other teams in the standings as well.
Taking this all into consideration, it's time for Seattle to have the difficult discussion of whether or not to shut Wilson down for the rest of the season. While the likely knee-jerk reaction to such a statement is to say, "That will never happen," let's consider the situation and understand how it could benefit both parties in the end.
From the Seahawks' perspective, it begins with facing facts: they have a six percent chance of making the postseason, per FiveThirtyEight.com. It's not happening, and the sooner they recognize that, the better. Everything they do from this point forward has to be with the future in mind, and that starts with Wilson.
At this point in the year, a re-aggravation of his healing finger or another serious injury could very well linger into the 2022 campaign. Whether he plays in Seattle or not next season, keeping him as healthy as possible has to be in the organization's best interests, either for the sake of trade value or the offense's potential.
Of course, as exemplified by his speedy recovery, Wilson is an ultra competitor. Getting him to sign off on a potential shutdown feels like an improbability, but if he sees the writing on the wall and decides his time in the Pacific Northwest is coming to an end, perhaps he'd be open the idea. Longevity is one of the main things the future Hall of Fame quarterback strives for, so having the extra time to rehabilitate his finger in preparation for the next chapter of his storied career could be appealing.
Perhaps the Seahawks wait and see how the next week or two goes, which is understandable to a certain degree. But if 3-7 turns into 3-8 or 3-9, there is no logical reason for Wilson to be on the field. It accomplishes nothing, other than putting the team's biggest and best asset at an unnecessary risk.