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'Let's Catch Fire': Russell Wilson Staying Optimistic About Seahawks' Offense Following Shutout Loss

Countless injuries, a shutout loss and a 3-6 start to the season has not shaken the signature optimism of Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. Ahead of the team's Week 11 matchup with the Cardinals, Wilson explained why he's still confident the offense can turn things around.

RENTON, WA — At the conclusion of the Seahawks' 17-0 loss to the Packers this past Sunday—the first time they've been shut out since 2011—there was a chasmic disparity in their run-pass splits. Quarterback Russell Wilson dropped back to pass a whopping 48 times, completing 20 of 40 throws for 161 yards and two interceptions while being sacked thrice. Meanwhile, offensive coordinator Shane Waldron dialed up just 11 designed runs despite running back Alex Collins averaging 4.1 yards per carry. 

"I think throughout that game," Wilson reflected on Sunday night's events. "We had a couple opportunities to maybe possibly run it, you know, after we had two good runs and a couple good pass plays and just continue to mix it up here and there. But at the end of the day, it just comes down to execution."

Now in his 10th year in the NFL, Wilson has had free rein to change plays at the line of scrimmage. Interestingly, the star quarterback admits he was not as active on this front in Green Bay, indicating that the run-pass ratio divide was more so dictated by Waldron and the flow of the game. 

"Earlier this year, we were changing them quite a bit," Wilson revealed. "This past game, we didn't change it quite as much just 'cause of how the flow of the game was. But yeah, I have full capability of changing the play. ... I think it's been great. You know, Shane and I have a great relationship. I think the thing about Shane and I, you know, is that we have the same thoughts and the same vision on how we want to execute. And I think that, at the end of the day, when we're executing high, we're kicking butt."

Following the game, Wilson took full responsibility for the offense's struggles. Just a month removed from finger surgery, his throwing accuracy and decision-making was uncharacteristically shaky at times. However, from the noted play-calling issues to a rough performance by Seattle's offensive line, he was not given the best opportunity to succeed.

That's not to say the Seahawks didn't make compromises to ease Wilson back into the swing of things, though. They exclusively ran out of pistol and shotgun formations in order to keep his healing finger from being exposed to direct, under-center snaps. But this arguably created more problems than it solved, taking away Wilson's greatest strength of running play-action out from under center and severely capping Waldron and run game coordinator Andy Dickerson's expertise when it comes to Seattle's rushing attack. 

With another week of rehab under his belt, Wilson doesn't anticipate having similar restrictions in this weekend's matchup with the Cardinals. 

"I was ready to [take snaps under center] last week," Wilson stated. "My hand's fine. I think you guys could see I was running the ball, getting hit and all that stuff. I'm not thinking about my hand. But, you know, I think that you wanna be smart too and not take a million snaps underneath, but I think that, at the same time, hand feels great, I feel confident about it, been doing it in practice some too and this and that, so I feel good about it." 

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Arizona's defense, led by third-year coordinator Vance Joseph, presents a unique challenge for Wilson and company. Despite the free agent losses of longtime cornerback Patrick Peterson and pass rusher Haason Reddick, the unit ranks second in defensive DVOA, fifth in points allowed per game (18.9), eighth in passing yards allowed (2,064), seventh in sacks (26) and 15th in pressures (160). 

A considerable amount of Seattle's focus will be placed on stopping two-time All-Pro Chandler Jones, who, after exploding for 5.0 sacks against the Titans in Week 1, has cooled off quite a bit. Since then, he's recorded just 1.0 sack on 18 pressures with an abysmal run defense grade of 29.0 from Pro Football Focus. Nevertheless, Jones has been a thorn in the collective sides of the Seahawks and Wilson himself, sacking the quarterback 13.5 times in just nine games—his best mark against any team and any player in his career. 

"I think Chandler's just a factor every day," Wilson scouted. "I think [Markus] Golden's really stepped up at the other opposite defensive end and he's a tremendous football player. I think Budda Baker just gets better every year—he's a top performer in the game. I think [Byron] Murphy's been playing great for them, you know, to continue seeing him develop as a player. They got other great players too. ... They play hard."

The one area of weakness the Seahawks will potentially look to exploit is the Cardinals' run defense. It's not just an issue that's exclusive to Jones; Arizona is 19th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed (116.6) and just gave up 166 on the ground to Christian McCaffrey and the Panthers in a 34-10 blowout loss this past Sunday. 

Of course, Seattle will have to switch gears from where it was last week and make a stronger commitment to the run game—something head coach Pete Carroll indicated would be the case earlier this week. However, it appears the team will once again be without Chris Carson, who was designated for return to practice from a neck injury last week. That means Collins will be in line for his sixth consecutive start in Carson's absence.

"Obviously, Chris Carson is such a physical brute," Wilson assessed of his missing running back. "He's a guy who can just run over guys and all that. I think A.C., he plays different than Chris but he'll run through a guy too as well. But he's just got tremendous feet—I mean, he's just dancing back there and doing great things."

Injury woes and recent shutout aside, Wilson is maintaining his signature optimism. The Seahawks may be 3-6 with eight games to play, but they're only two out of the NFC's seventh and final playoff spot, smack dab in the middle of a mediocre wild-card picture. But a quick turnaround for the offense, starting this Sunday, is of the utmost importance, and Wilson sees the path to get there.

"We gotta catch our groove," Wilson explained. "And as we catch our groove, I think the running game, the passing game, all that has to click together as one. And if we can do that—which I know we can, and we have so far a few times this year—let's catch fire, and I think that's just kind of our mentality."