Another week, another cycle of Russell Wilson trade talk, another expensive scotch order. National media insiders, ex-players, and even a current Seahawk all have spoken on the situation. The marriage between the franchise quarterback and the Seahawks is starting to look irreparably broken.
NFL Network’s Mike Silver, who often is in-tune with the Seahawks organization, said, “Right now it is absolutely frosty and this is a fluid situation. I think we'll have a lot more resolution by next week.”
This current saga presumably must end so that free agency plans can be executed. That leaves only a few days, as free agency opens officially on March 17.
Former Seahawks tight end Greg Olsen appeared on The Colin Cowherd podcast and gave fascinating insight into Wilson’s thinking. What Olsen described, touching on the Super Bowl 48 win being defense and run game driven, sounded like a legacy-complex for Wilson.
“His legacy matters to him and I don’t blame him,” concluded Olsen. “He’s a one-time Super Bowl champ, one-time Super Bowl loser, that matters to him. He wants to win three, four, multiple Super Bowls. And he wants it to be on his back because that’s the type of competitor that he is. Will the Seahawks ever just say: ‘Here are the keys, go win us the Super Bowl offensively?' I’m not sure.”
It’s at this point I should point you towards Corbin Smith’s article on whether the Seahawks ‘Let Russ Cook’ through the duration of the 2020 season. Short answer: they did. Smith finished his piece: "When reflecting on the Seahawks' offensive deterioration late last season, Wilson doesn't have any ground to stand on when it comes to the argument his team took the ball out of his hands."
Yes, Pete Carroll revealed some latter season adjustments were made.
The film and data shows this change not to be radical. The Seahawks ran the ball slightly more in the second half of the season, employed more quick game, and evolved their concepts like any NFL offense. These were merely sensible adjustments for how teams were playing them, with defenses looking to hold two-high shells pre-snap.
There may have been a renewed focus on avoiding turnovers and Wilson turned down some throws that were inexplicable. This was the only aspect clearly visible on tape. Yet you see clips like the one below and realize Seattle's coach was as frustrated as you were at some of the throws Wilson did not see or turned down.
This all starts to be an all-too-convenient excuse. Ultimately, "Let Russ Cook" failed against quality defenses, for a variety of reasons that are not based in Carroll meddling. I think Wilson understands this one too. Or he’s deluded.
“It’s not the Legion of Boom, it’s not the days of old, where now he [Wilson] wants that weight on his shoulders,” explained Olsen. “He wants it to be an offensive‐driven philosophy and team. Are they willing to allow him to operate the Seattle Seahawks in that manner?”
Complementary football is a legitimate concept. Shabby opponents or not, the Seahawks finished their 2020 schedule going 6‐2 and winning the NFC West for the first time since 2016. Furthermore, with just four draft picks, it will be tough for Seattle to radically upgrade its offense this offseason. The quarterback's PR campaign has been so effective that it has blinded many from the realities of Seattle's playoff exit and offensive failings. (Though everyone will get lost in priors at some point)
Let’s speculate to fill in some of the blanks of how we arrived at this point of turmoil, the high wire circus act that is the Seahawks. What was more troubling for Wilson was probably how Seattle’s process played out after the wild card defeat to the Los Angeles Rams, not the 2020 approach in general, which I’m sure he loved.
First, the man who let him cook was fired. The “philosophical differences” between Schottenheimer and Carroll may well have been based around how much they trusted/wanted Wilson to drop back in 2021. With Schotty gone, Carroll immediately spoke to the media about running the ball more. Then the first offensive coordinator names felt stodgy with candidates likely to return to a 2018 level of run-run-pass sequencing.
From Seattle’s view, they involved Wilson in the coordinator hiring process and Shane Waldron was supposedly the happy compromise. This was the team's concession. I explained how elements of the coach will satisfy both Wilson and Carroll. So, when Wilson launched his media blitz, the Seahawks were likely angry. He broke one of Carroll’s core rules: protect the team. Then Wilson used his agent, Mark Rodgers, not to request a trade but to state the four teams he would accept a trade to.
Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer summarized this in his NFL Mailbag, writing, “The issue for the Seahawks is the constant drama, and how after they checked that first box, Wilson created even more by going public on the two unchecked boxes.”
Wilson, even if involved with the hire of his new play caller, could be forgiven for growing fearful and weary of a highly conservative Carroll returning, given how the offseason played out. Waldron himself arrived talking about "balance," while coming from an offense known for a core run play that's appearance sets everything else up. The quarterback has taken this to shocking extremes though.
On Wednesday, betting markets on Wilson to Chicago were suspended by many bookmakers. The Bears have a fanbase so desperate for a franchise quarterback. The fans’ hunger for a quality signal caller may well have resulted in large quantities of money being placed on Wilson future bets, amounts large enough to even panic the rich Vegas brainiacs. A simpler explanation would be that the desert people are rarely wrong and rich for a reason - something really could be happening.
It was a backup running back who emphasized this stark reality, whether he intended to or not. Alex Collins, interviewed by our own Corbin Smith and Hannah Hoover recently, unveiled an absolute revelation when talking about the 2021 offense.
"No matter what it is, I'm ready to learn the scheme, the identity, what we will potentially be in the future," Collins commented. "I feel like once the decision is decided with Russ, we'll be able to really focus on that aspect and what they want to be able to do and let us know. Ultimately, I've been in so many different schemes, I've had to learn so many different playbooks, I don't think it's going to be a problem at all."
The immediate drink-choker is “once the decision is decided with Russ,” which implies that there is, in fact, a very real decision for Seattle to make regarding their quarterback. More than that, Collins is aware of it and felt hesitant when talking about the future offense on the record. This is not your click-hungry storyline. There is substance to all of this.
It’s moderately surprising that no schematic detail for 2021 has been communicated to the players. I projected Waldron's first year as a clear blend of the old attack with the new, yet nothing has been conveyed at all? I write this because Waldron is entering his first campaign in Seattle and his maiden year as an NFL play caller. How much internal doubt over Wilson’s future is present among the coaching staff?
Silver appeared on the Adam Schein Show and went a step further then his comments at the beginning of the week, even speculating on the impact of Seattle’s ownership.
A Détente is an absolute necessity. Talking Cold War, the period was littered with false alarms. Hopefully, some day, we will be able to point out moments like the Cuban Missile Crisis or Able Archer 83 on the Wilson‐Seahawks trade timeline. Currently, however, all signs point towards Seahawks Armageddon. And total desolation. At least it’s only a silly sport and not nuclear warfare.