The 2019 Seattle Seahawks will be a playoff team. In fact, I expect them to be a Super Bowl contender, and they have a player that should make them this kind of contender every single year. Period.
Quarterback Russell Wilson
Why is Wilson a player that should make them a continuous contender?
Because he is an elite franchise quarterback, and that is what an elite franchise quarterback does for your team. Plus he has a particular skill set that matches perfectly for a team that wants to run the ball. He is an A+ play action quarterback who throws an A+ deep pass, and even at 30 years of age, he is still a threat to break off a big run. Put all of that together with an improved ability to pass from the pocket, improved footwork, and the ability to better make line adjustments, defenses now have to account for all of this. Simply put, Russell Wilson might not be as easily defendable as he was a few years ago. He can beat you a lot of ways. That is why Seattle decided to spend the big dollars on him.
Some will argue that Russell Wilson needs a running game to succeed. Fine. All quarterbacks are certainly helped by a strong rushing attack. Some will conversely argue and say that Seattle over-zealotry to the run game holds him back. In my humble opinion, I say Seattle runs the ball to get the very best out of Russell Wilson.
Seattle runs the ball because Pete Carroll values balance to his offense, no doubt about it, but I think Seattle runs the ball to take full advantage of how good Russell Wilson is on a team that runs. They don’t even do the zone read keepers for him that much anymore. They are way more committed to taking advantage of his arm in the pocket, and his overall passing efficiency, but do not kid yourself, they run that ball to take advantage of how he can beat you over the top, and they want that stuck inside your mind if you are the defensive coordinator playing against them.
Last year, Russell Wilson efficiently threw 3,448 yards with 35 touchdowns to 7 interceptions, and a completion percentage of 65.6. Any offensive minded coach would take those kind of numbers from his quarterback and that was just his first year under an entirely new offense under offensive coordinator Brian Schottenhiemer. This year will be his second season, and I think we can probably expect Russell to only build off of those numbers, even without Doug Baldwin, and that is taking nothing any from Angry Doug.
I think a strong argument can be made that this version of the Air Coryell best suits Russell Wilson, better than the west coast attack former coordinator Darrell Bevell ran. It’s a variation of the offense his hero Drew Brees has run, it puts more emphasis on deep passing, and it allows Russell Wilson the ability to call plays at the line of scrimmage based on what he is seeing from the defense. It gives him autonomy to choose which play to call that will best attack the weakness of that particular defense based on what he sees pre snap. Russell Wilson is a smart guy, and should be more than capable of doing this. Last year was his first time doing it, and he fared pretty darn well. This year, expect major steps forward from that.
In fact, I think they might open it up a bit more, and that should make a contingent of fans pretty excited. They spent a high round pick drafting the physically freakish DK Metcalf, but they also drafted other talent like Gary Jennings, and John Ursua. Seattle spent considerable of draft capital at receiver for a team that likes to run. They also quietly traded for a young pass catching tight end in Jacob Hollister, and drafted a pass catching running back in Travis Homer.
These are weapons to aide the pass game not the run, and here is the real truth in it all; Pete Carroll does not want to be a run first team. Pete Carroll also doesn’t want to be a pass first team. Pete Carroll wants to be a balanced team, and in that, his offense, ideally, will run fifty percent of the time, and pass fifty percent of the time. That is his ideal formula. It doesn’t always work out that way and different matches dictate different percentages of run and pass, but in his very idea, it’s total 50/50 run and pass.
I also think much was made last year about how much Seattle chose to run, and it raised concerns and eyebrows about how much they were running while having an expensive quarterback. Here is what I think might have played a bit more into the coach’s decision to run more often than pass; this defense was without Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril, Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman, and for a long stretch, KJ Wright. They had to lean into a lot of young talent, and they were really thin at a lot of spots. I think Carroll might have been more intent on protecting his young defenders by eating up as much clock as his offense could even more than necessarily protecting his expensive passer, but that is just me. He would not likely admit that because that could be construed as an admittance that his young defense wasn’t as far a long as he would like it to be, and Carroll tends to be the protective type when it comes to his players.
Regardless, Russell Wilson by and large excelled in 2018, and made the most out of his more limited attempts when comparing to most of the passers in the league. However, when called upon to air it out more in tough contests against Carolina and Kansas City, he also more than delivered. He and his numbers were spectacular in those particular match ups when Seattle very much needed to win to just stay alive in the playoff race.
That is what an elite franchise quarterback does for your organization. That is what Russell Wilson is, and that is why Seattle was more than willing to pony up the big dollars.
For as good as Marshawn Lynch was, Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas were, and Bobby Wagner is, Russell Wilson is better because he is the quarterback. I know that is a tough pill to swallow for the few Russell Wilson critics out there, but that’s the facts, Jack. The quarterback position is the most important position, and it is a hardest position in team sports to play. If you have an elite quarterback, he is your best player, period. In my opinion, there is no debating that.
So, what I am most excited about is that 2019 finally feels like the year where the Seattle Seahawks are finally Russell Wilson’s team. Gone are the defenders that chided him during practice and made fun of his goodie two shoe ways behind his back. Gone is the talented yet sometimes volatile slot receiver who never seemed to fully embrace him. Here is a group of offensive linemen that want to block for him, a receiver in Tyler Lockett that has a great chemistry with him, the best linebacker on the planet who doesn’t dog him, a head coach that fully embraces him, and a group of young receivers who are eager to catch for him.
This is fully Russell Wilson’s team now. I’m very ready for this new chapter to begin. I’m excited.