STACY ROST

Seahawks Q&A: What is going on with Russell Wilson and Seattle’s offense?

Dec 8, 2020, 11:15 AM | Updated: 2:01 pm

Seahawks Russell Wilson...

Russell Wilson and the Seahawks' offense managed just 10 points Sunday. (Getty)

(Getty)

Seahawks fans had plenty of questions after Seattle’s head-scratching loss to the New York Giants, so we thought it was a perfect time for a good, old-fashioned mailbag.

Clayton: Why Seahawks’ loss to Giants could end up being so costly

Stacy Rost of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake and Stacy asked for questions from the fan base Monday on Twitter, and she answers several of them below.

@tugrad03: You know it’s bad when Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson have phone calls late at night, the Super Bowl 49 loss being one of them. What has triggered Russ mentally?

Wilson also took nearly an hour after Sunday’s 17-12 loss to the Giants before speaking with reporters, by far the longest I can remember media waiting for a postgame press conference from him. That’s not a move by Wilson to slight anyone. I assumed just what you did – that there were difficult conversations being had about a difficult loss.

No one knows where Wilson is mentally, but it’s clear there have been some mental lapses in recent games. They haven’t all been the same mistakes. His end zone interception against the Rams was an awful pass and poor decision making, while holding onto the ball and waiting for plays to develop held him back more often than not against the Giants. Personally, I attributed the first to trying to do too much to make up for defensive struggles. The most recent outing seemed like a combination of a lack of execution on the part of players (including misfires by Wilson and a few drops by receivers) and a lack of adjustments on the part of the coaching staff. My Jake and Stacy co-host Jake Heaps made his argument for the latter here.

If there’s one thing for fans to hang onto, it’s Wilson’s track record. Seattle’s franchise star has typically been resilient and has rarely strung together such a stretch of poor performances.

@Moa_anbessa12: Should we be letting Russ cook this season or go back to run-heavy Seahawks football?

I need to address a few things here before answering the question.

Becoming a pass-heavy offense does increase the threat of interceptions since the ball is, quite literally, in the air more often. That’s especially risky if the offense is one-dimensional, lacks a multitude of weapons, or has a quarterback who makes poor decisions. But successful passing offenses are also more efficient than run-heavy units. And this has also been true of the Seahawks, who fielded a very, very successful passing offense earlier this year.

What Seattle did so effectively was choose its pass and run plays wisely. That’s an area for which the Seahawks have received criticism in the past. Even when Seattle was set in its run-first identity in 2018 – leading all teams in run plays called – the offense was more successful when it passed on first down. That doesn’t mean passing all the time made them better; in fact, according to FiveThirtyEight, the Seahawks’ most successful combination was pass-rush-rush (88.9% conversion rate). Despite that success, they passed on first down just 47% of the time, which was the lowest rate in the league. They’ve been better at that this season, passing on first down nearly 62% of the time, though that’s been down the last three games (57.1%).

So, we know the Seahawks’ offense – and offenses in general – successfully convert more often when they pass on first down. We also know that despite a series of recent stumbles, Russell Wilson is one of the league’s best passers. Now comes the next step: When and how often should they run? And, in the case of this team, is turning away from the run hurting the offense?

I believe team identity is incredibly important to Pete Carroll and to his overall philosophy, which is how he runs his entire program, so the question about whether it’s affecting to veer from an offensive identity he values is a fair one. I also don’t believe taking the ball out of Wilson’s hands and going back to a 2018 version of your offense is a solution to their offensive issues, though.

Count me among the football fans who love to see a physical, bruising run game. So yes, I’d like to see Chris Carson incorporated just a bit more often. But I think their formula from earlier this season was right – as far as decisions to pass early and more often – and I think earlier in-game adjustments and improving health can help them get back to that. It’s no coincidence that Wilson’s best stretch of games (Weeks 1-5) also coincided with Carson and the offensive line being healthy.

@walkngirl: Is there any danger of the Hawks not winning again this season?

I’m assuming the question is sarcastic, but I’m choosing to answer it to get fans away from the ledge here. I cannot stress how bad the 0-12 Jets, the Seahawks’ opponent this Sunday, are this season. As far as last Sunday, the Seahawks are a better team than the New York Giants and had the weapons – a better quarterback, better receivers, and a hot defense going against a backup quarterback. They didn’t play like it, and that’s frustrating for a lot of fans. But the season isn’t over yet, because…

@gregorylent: Can they make the playoffs?

Yes. In fact, the Seahawks’ odds of making the postseason in any fashion (as either a divisional winner or wild card) are 97.9%, according to Football Outsiders. Barring complete collapse, they are going to be a playoff team once again. And no, regardless of your feelings on Monday morning, losing to the Giants is not a complete collapse.

What fans (and this team) are really hoping for is that Seattle makes it as the NFC West winner. According to that same playoff odds report, the Los Angeles Rams (8-4) are currently the favorite to win thanks to their current tiebreaker over the Seahawks, who are also 8-4 but lost to LA in their one meeting so far this season. The Rams’ greatest odds are as the divisional winner and No. 3 seed in the conference (33.4%) while Seattle’s is as the No. 5 seed (22.7%).

These odds can change quickly because the NFC West is one of three incredibly close division battles, however. The Rams’ 63% chance to win the division is the lowest of any current division leader outside of the Giants in the NFC East (49.1%) and the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC South (53%).

That means the final Seahawks-Rams game in Week 16 just became a whole lot more important.

@chwkfan4life253: How do I get a PlayStation 5? The Seahawks will be fine, the fair-weather fans aren’t used to losing much.

I honestly have no idea where to find a PlayStation 5, but I hear there’s at least one guy who did successfully find one. Problem is, he lied and told his wife it was an air purifier. Oops.

Follow Stacy Rost on Twitter.

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