RENTON — Go ahead and blame Russell Wilson for Seattle’s recent struggles on third down, or for the fact the Seahawks’ offense has been a bit out of sync over the past three weeks. Wilson will wear it. Gladly.
“The biggest thing on third downs is we’ve just got to execute and I’ve just got to be better,” the Seahawks quarterback said. “That’s what it really comes down to. I’ll take the blame for it. I’m excited about that, I love a challenge.”
But even if you want to put some blame on Wilson for the Seahawks losing to Arizona last weekend — or for Seattle not looking like the same explosive team on offense ever since that Monday night victory over New Orleans — don’t expect Wilson’s struggles to continue this weekend. If anything, the safe bet, even against a St. Louis Rams defense that has given Seattle trouble in the past, is that Wilson will put together a big-time performance in a game the Seahawks need in order to secure home-field advantage in the playoffs.
“I have no doubt that he’ll be on it,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “He’s been studying already, he’s deep into the plan, getting ready for it. He really does as diligent a job of preparing as you can do. So hopefully everything works out right, but he’ll do his part.”
For all of Wilson’s many positive traits, none stands out more than his ability to fix something that he or his coaches feel needs fixing. Early in his rookie season, Seattle’s offense struggled on third down, but once that became priority No. 1, Wilson and the offense took a big leap forward. Later, when the focus was on red-zone production, the Seahawks fixed that too. So if you noticed that Wilson was a bit inaccurate last week, or that the offense has looked a bit off, you’d better believe he noticed it too, and has been killing himself this week to get it right.
That’s why Wilson was at the Seahawks’ practice facility by 4:30 a.m. Monday, it’s why he’ll spend all week trying to correct every mistake that contributed to him completing just 11 of 27 passes for a career-low 108 yards last season, and it’s why his teammates expect greatness from him moving forward.
“Our quarterback? I don’t worry about Russell, he’ll be fine,” fullback Michael Robinson said. “He’s a vet now. To be good in this league in general, you have to be your own biggest critic, and he is his own biggest critic. Games where everybody would think he played his best, he’d point to when he didn’t carry out a fake, or point to when he threw a little low or something like that. He’s his own biggest critic, and I think that’s the biggest thing to his success so far. That will carry him to a great future.”
What’s most interesting about the how-will-Russell-Wilson-bounce-back-from-a-bad-game question is that we have had very few examples to provide an answer. Yes, Wilson had some rough outings early in his rookie season, but to a degree that was to be expected out of a first-year quarterback who had split reps throughout training camp as part of a three-way competition, and who was playing in a scaled-back version of his team’s offense. Once the reins were taken off the offense, Wilson excelled, and even in the games where his numbers lagged this year, it usually coincided with terrible pass protection behind an injury-depleted offensive line, and even then Wilson seemed to produce enough moments of magic to help Seattle escape with a victory.
Sunday’s loss to Arizona, however, was different. The protection was solid, yet Wilson seemed a bit off in posting his lowest completion percentage of the season, and lowest yards-per-attempt average of his career. Yes, there were plenty of other reasons Seattle lost aside from Wilson’s play, but Sunday was a rare instance in Wilson’s two-year career when you could say he struggled without having to add a bunch of qualifiers about offensive-line play.
“Sometimes you just have a bad day,” Wilson said. “Sometimes your days are great, sometimes they’re good and sometimes you just have one or two bad days in there. Hopefully you can get rid of those days. It’s that whole baseball analogy, some days you go 0-for-5, but you keep swinging. So the biggest thing for me is to continue to do what I’ve done all year, continue to be consistent, be clutch when we need it, be the calm in the storm. I’m not going to waver, I never have, never will.”
With one more victory, the Seahawks can clinch the NFC West and home-field advantage, assuring that the path to the Super Bowl goes through Seattle. To do so, the Seahawks will need to perform well against a team that has given them fits, win or lose, over the past two seasons. Conventional wisdom says we should wonder how Wilson will respond to one of the worst outings of his career, especially facing a tough defense with the stakes so high. But don’t expect anyone at Seahawks headquarters to harbor doubts about the team’s quarterback.
“Not at all,” offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. “… There’s no doubt that he’ll get it done.”
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.