STACY ROST

Rost: Did the Seahawks actually let Russell Wilson cook?

Sep 13, 2020, 5:18 PM | Updated: 7:41 pm
Seahawks Russell Wilson...
Russell Wilson threw for four touchdowns and led the Seahawks in rushing Sunday. (AP)
(AP)

Did the Seahawks actually do it?

Did… did they Let Russ Cook?

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The social media-spawned motto has driven some 710 ESPN Seattle hosts crazy, but it also seemed to be the adage for Seattle in Sunday’s 38-25 trouncing of the Atlanta Falcons. The idea calls not just for quarterback Russell Wilson to pass more often, but for Seattle’s normally balanced offense to be more aggressive earlier in games and on early downs by leaning into their franchise quarterback.

I don’t think any of this is a new concept for the Seahawks coaching staff, but the offense certainly bucked a few trends in their Week 1 victory.

Russell Wilson finished the day 31 of 35 for 322 passing yards and four touchdowns. That’s not drastically more than Wilson’s average attempts per game from last season (32), but it was the timing of those attempts that made all the difference. Notably, Seattle’s quarterback wasn’t asked to save the day with a last-second drive in the fourth quarter.

Last season, Seattle won 10 games by eight points or fewer and Wilson had more pass attempts in the fourth quarter of games (152) than in any other.

Neither trend held true Sunday. After brushing off a sack on their first offensive play of the season, the Seahawks’ offense responded with back-to-back passes to veteran wide receiver Tyler Lockett and tight end Greg Olsen. They threw six more times during an 11-play drive that ended with a touchdown pass to running back Chris Carson. Carson added another TD catch on the following series, and Olsen and wide receiver DK Metcalf added to the total with a pair of touchdown receptions in the third quarter, the latter scoring on a fourth-down conversion attempt.

By the time the two-minute warning crept in, Seattle held a comfortable 20-point lead. In fact, Seahawks fans watching the final minutes of Seattle’s win may even have been feeling – dare we say it – relaxed.

Are we sure this is a Seahawks game?

Yet to be seen is whether Seattle’s aggressive approach – one that on occasion went up-tempo and often saw them throwing the ball all over the field – is part of a season-long goal or was simply just their plan to attack a weak Falcons secondary. Pro Football Focus ranked Atlanta’s defense 28th heading into the 2020 season, citing the poor coverage grade of their secondary.

The answer might a very boring “mix of both,” because as fun as it is to watch an offense like Kansas City’s, it’s not Pete Carroll’s philosophy. Seattle’s head coach was asked post-game whether Sunday’s offensive play-calling was a statement. Carroll instead attributed it to the work Wilson and the rest of the offense has done together during a truncated offseason.

“I’ve said it three or four times already, it’s really the way we’ve been practicing,” Carroll said. “Russell was in total command of the game and had a beautiful game, but there’s so many things that factor in on that. That’s (offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer) making the calls, it’s all the preparation to get there, it’s the guys coming through with their plays and all that – Russ would be the first to tell you. It is a statement, though, of the offseason… Our guys did a marvelous job. Russell was integrally involved in all of that and it just showed.”

About that fourth-down play

Wilson was asked about the team’s decision to go for it on fourth-and-5, a play in which he made a 38-yard touchdown pass to DK Metcalf.

He mentioned seeing Falcons players celebrating a third-down stop.

“They made a good stop on third down and they were all celebrating, and we kind of just looked at the sideline, and I was like, ‘OK well let’s go after them,’” Wilson said. “We wanted to be aggressive in that approach right there. And, so, we were going to send the kicking team out, (but) I think Schotty and I were on the same page and we went for it. And sure enough DK makes a great play, slips by him and runs right down the field and makes a great touchdown catch.”

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