Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) walks on the field before a wild-card playoff game against the Rams on Jan. 9, 2021, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) walks on the field before a wild-card playoff game against the Rams on Jan. 9, 2021, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Seahawks position overview: Quarterback

Seattle must find an offensive coordinator who can maximize Russell Wilson’s prime years.

By Bob Condotta / The Seattle Times

With the Seattle Seahawks’ season now in the rear-view mirror, it’s time for a postseason review of every position, looking at the personnel at each spot, contract situations and who may and may not be back.

We’ll start with what has suddenly — and maybe surprisingly — become the most-discussed position on the team, quarterback:

STARTER

Russell Wilson

Age: 32.

Snaps played in regular season: 1,047.

Contract situation: In 2021 will enter second season of four-year extension that lasts through 2023 and averages $35 million per season.

BACKUP

Geno Smith

Age: 30.

Snaps played: 18.

Contract situation: Now an unrestricted free agent. Made $1.187 million in 2020 on a one-year contract.

OTHERS ON THE ROSTER

Danny Etling, Alex McGough.

2020 review

The second line of Russell Wilson’s updated official team bio reads this way: “Set single-season franchise records in TD passes (40), completions (384) and completion percentage (68.8).”

And if you read only that sentence and knew nothing else about how Seattle’s season unfolded you’d probably be stunned to realize that it’s the offensive coordinator who was fired, the offense that is the subject of all the worry heading into the offseason, and that one proposed solution is to run the ball more.

The view here is Wilson is hardly broken and not even close to the biggest worry on the team. The play-calling was, if not stagnant at least not able to come up with answers quickly enough in the second half of the year, the offensive line struggled down the stretch, Seattle didn’t get as much as it needed out of its tight-end spot, and receiving contributions from anyone other than Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf was erratic.

And maybe, too, the Los Angeles Rams — whom Seattle played three times in the second half — were/are just a bad matchup for Seattle and Wilson (though admittedly they always sort of have been).

Consider that Wilson was 53-96 (55.21%) for 647 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions in three games against L.A., a rating of 73.57. He was 342-489 (69.64%) for 3,739, 37 touchdowns and 10 interceptions against everyone else, a rating of 108.93, which would have been the third best of his career.

In Wilson’s other 14 games he had only two passer ratings lower than his average rating against the Rams.

And at the age of 32, Wilson also had the fourth-most rushing yards of any quarterback this season, 513 behind only Lamar Jackson, Kyler Murray and Cam Newton (Newton had 54 more attempts than Wilson to get 79 more yards at 592).

Take out the three games against the Rams and Wilson would have pretty much had a season ranking with any of the best in his career — especially when factoring in 6.2 yards per rush, tied for the second best of his career, other than a couple too many interceptions.

Much has been made of Wilson being sacked 47 times this year.

But that also wasn’t out of the ordinary.

In fact, Wilson’s sack rate of 7.8% was the fourth lowest of his career — in the Super Bowl winning season of 2013 Wilson was sacked on 9.8% of pass attempts (his career high is 10.7% in 2018).

Wilson has always taken a lot of sacks because of issues with the line. But he has a unique ability to extend plays with his feet in which there is always going to be some bad to go with a lot of good, and coach Pete Carroll in general would rather he take a sack than throw the ball up for grabs, within reason. Carroll also has always favored the deep pass, an approach that also leads to more sacks.

How much of that can be changed at this point of his career is hard to know — more quick passes would obviously help — especially since Seattle has limited draft and salary-cap resources to enact much of a significant makeover on its offensive line.

But the issue is obviously that the Rams are a team Seattle has to beat to win the division, which is the easiest way to make any sort of a long postseason run.

So, the offseason will be devoted to figuring out a way to give Wilson better options to beat the Rams (and maybe it will help that LA defensive coordinator Brandon Staley is leaving to become the head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers), and other teams that try to do what they did to Seattle so successfully this season.

Wilson said this week he will have input on the hiring of a new coordinator, one who presumably would be in place for the next two or three years, and maybe the rest of Wilson’s current contract.

As Wilson said, it’s “a critical” hire to try to maximize some of the remaining prime years of his career.

A new OC, which will be the third of Wilson’s career, will also likely prove whether there is much more Wilson can really improve at this state — Carroll says he’d like to get Wilson to a 70% completion rate — and how much Wilson just is what he is, which despite the late-season drop-off is still among the best of the best in the NFL.

2021 preview

The only question from a personnel standpoint is who will be the backup.

Smith, as noted, is again a free agent after signing a one-year deal last spring to return as Wilson’s backup.

Seattle re-signed both Etling and McGough to futures deals but neither has played in an NFL game and you’d think the Seahawks will want someone on the roster to begin camp who has some experience.

That could just be Smith. If there really is no on-field offseason program again — Wilson said this week he expects will be the case — then teams again may place more value on bringing back their own players who already know the system well, especially at a spot like quarterback (one reason the team brought back McGough late in the year as he had familiarity with the system having spent the 2018 season with Seattle on the practice squad after being drafted in the seventh round).

Seattle also is never going to want to spend much on a backup with Wilson next year accounting for a $32 million cap hit, which could be as much as 18% of Seattle’s overall cap if the number is at or close to the projected floor of $175 million.

But Smith, 30, has also played in only one game in two years with Seattle, mop-up time in the blowout against the New York Jets, and might also want to see if he has other options where he might have a better chance to play.

There are a number of veterans who wouldn’t figure to cost much who will be available as free agents (Matt Barkley, who played for Carroll at USC, is one). But again, given that this could be another unique offseason, Smith might be as good of an option as any.

Talk to us

More in Sports

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, right, talks with wide receiver DK Metcalf (14) as offensive coordinator Shane Waldron looks on at left, during NFL football practice Saturday, July 31, 2021, in Renton, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Seahawks’ new offense under Waldron puts premium on tempo

Seattle will also likely employ more pre-snap motion, a staple of the Los Angeles Rams.

Washington State head coach June Daugherty calls to her team in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Washington, Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Former UW, WSU women’s basketball coach Daugherty dies at 64

The Pacific Northwest icon suffered heart complications throughout her coaching career.

File photo
AquaSox bullpen falters late in loss to Indians

Leading by one, Everett gives up four runs in the bottom of the eighth in a 5-2 loss to Spokane.

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacob Eason runs a drill during practice at the NFL team's football training camp in Westfield, Ind., Wednesday, July 28, 2021. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Injuries could open door for Eason to start for Colts

The former Lake Stevens star is taking reps with the first team with Carson Wentz out indefinitely.

Former EvCC standout athlete killed in Spokane shooting

Jakobe Ford, 22, was named to the Northwest Athletic Conferences All-Decade teams for 2010-19.

Lake Steven's Trayce Hanks makes a catch for a touchdown during the Cougars Championship Passing Tournament at Lakewood High School on Saturday, July 31, 2021 in Arlington, Wash. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
GALLERY: Lakewood hosts annual 7-on-7 football tournament

Some of the top schools in the region came out for the event, which included the popular lineman challenge.

AquaSox's manager, Louis Boyd, Funko Field at Everett Memorial Stadium in Everett on July 28, 2019. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Frogs can’t dig out of big early hole, lose to Indians

Everett falls behind behind by nine runs after two innings and stumbles to a 9-1 loss to Spokane.

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf makes a catch during NFL football practice Saturday, July 31, 2021, in Renton, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Metcalf ready to feast for Seahawks in 2021

After a breakout season last year, the young WR is ‘hungry’ to add to his growing accomplishments.

Xander Schauffele, of the United States, holds his gold medal in the men's golf at the 2020 Summer Olympics on Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021, in Kawagoe, Japan. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
U.S. golfer claims gold, as bronze goes to playoff holes

Bellevue golfer C.T. Pan, who represented Chinese Taipei, won the seven-way playoff.

Most Read