On the Dan Patrick Show today, Russell Wilson - in his own way - addressed some of the rumors floating around about his reported discontent with the Seahawks' front office and the way they've gone about building their offensive line.
"We've got to get better up front," Wilson told Patrick early Tuesday morning. "It's not just passing, [but] in terms of everything you do. It controls the game as you watched the other night [in Super Bowl LV]."
Wilson witnessed firsthand Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes being chased by Buccaneers defenders all game long in the team's 31-9 Super Bowl loss this past Sunday. It was all too familiar a sight to Wilson, whose offensive line struggled to protect him in the Seahawks' unexpected 30-20 defeat to the Rams in the wild-card round. However, Mahomes and the Chiefs were missing both of their starting tackles versus Tampa Bay; Wilson, on the other hand, had four of his starters play the full game against Los Angeles while Mike Iupati and Jordan Simmons rotated at left guard.
Despite their issues in that game and the latter half of the season as a whole, there were plenty of positives to take away from the offensive line's play in retrospect. Left tackle Duane Brown was still an effective blindside blocker at the age of 35; right guard Damien Lewis, though he struggled at times, played well enough to earn All-Rookie honors from the Pro Football Writers of America; and right tackle Brandon Shell, in his first year with the Seahawks, made huge strides in what was by far the best season of his otherwise average career.
There were plenty of negative takeaways as well. Though one of the better surprises for the Seahawks' offense in 2020, center Ethan Pocic was flat-out awful at times and was dominated by Aaron Donald and company in the team's two home matchups against the Rams this winter. Iupati got off to a strong start, but injuries ultimately made the left guard spot unreliable for most of the year.
So Wilson isn't wrong when he says the team needs to get better along the offensive line, specifically in the interior when you look at Pocic and Iupati's respective situations. However, the Super Bowl champion quarterback's comments today fail to acknowledge the circumstances that led them to a 20th-ranked pass blocking grade from Pro Football Focus.
Such is the unfortunate nature of the NFL, the injury bug bit the Seahawks and forced them to play fringe linemen like Chad Wheeler in key situations. While it's never a good thing to rank where they did, it also doesn't tell the full story of what happened and Wilson certainly did not when speaking to Dan Patrick.
Although Wilson acknowledged how his tendency to hold on to the ball can skew the offensive line's numbers at times, he was quick to justify his decisions in those moments with the desire for explosive plays.
"Sometimes you hold on to it a little bit, you know, just because you're looking for that play and you find those guys," Wilson explained. "But also, so many of those times those turn into touchdowns."
The frustration of 393 career sacks has clearly built up for Wilson, who went on to say the Seahawks' pass protection is a "big thing that's got to be fixed" in 2021. Citing his well-known wish to play 10-15 more years in the NFL, Wilson - who will make it a decade in the league this year - has all but said the current group of linemen Seattle has to offer may keep him from accomplishing his goal.
That's quite a dangerous sentiment to make public about a group that has three quality starters who aren't going anywhere. Even if Wilson's comments are more focused on the poor play from the team's center and left guard positions, the failure to disclose specifics, admit the effects of injury, or positively acknowledge all but one of his linemen is a problem.
He may have praised Duane Brown towards the end of the discussion, but what about Brandon Shell or Damien Lewis? How are either one supposed to feel reading these quotes after putting up strong seasons? Along with Jason La Canfora's report on Wilson's unhappiness with the line, this is what's ultimately so concerning about this whole ordeal; a quarterback who wants to be protected better cannot start throwing shade - unintentional or otherwise - at the few good linemen he has.
Even for Brown, as the veteran leader of the offensive line, these comments may not sit well no matter how highly Wilson speaks of him personally. Seahawks legend and Hall of Fame left tackle Walter Jones told 950 KJR's Dave "Softy" Mahler that Wilson's statements were uncalled for.
Given the long history of Seattle's offensive line struggles in the Wilson era, it's not hard to understand where the quarterback is coming from. That's not the issue here. The desire to get better and hold his teammates, coaches, and front office accountable is warranted, but the way he's gone about it is imprudent and insulting in nature.
Whether the Seahawks upgrade their line or not, Wilson is going to have to work with some of the players he indirectly alienated today. No matter who he was specifically referencing, his comments may have greatly fractured his relationships with players like Lewis and Shell. That's something he'll need to immediately and personally rectify before it's too late.