4 ways the Seahawks can address Russell Wilson’s sacks problem
Star Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has been the talk of the NFL world over the last few days due to comments he and his camp have made regarding the amount of times he’s been sacked and hit during his career.
Wilson, 32, is entering his 10th year in the NFL and has yet to miss a game. In 144 regular season games, Wilson has been sacked 394 times, and he’s been sacked quite a bit in the playoffs as well. Plus, he’s been hit and knocked down quite a bit as well.
Wilson’s comments have been interpreted as voicing displeasure towards his offensive line and the organization’s direction in general, and some have speculated that he may seek a trade, though many think that’s ultimately unlikely this offseason.
So if Wilson is indeed with the Seahawks for his 10th professional season, what can be done to prevent him from being hit and sacked at such a high clip? Former NFL quarterback Jake Heaps of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake and Stacy shared four ways that can happen.
1. Acquire the best available offensive linemen.
The Seahawks had three new starting offensive linemen in 2020. In 2021, they will have at least two as starting center Ethan Pocic and left guard Mike Iupati are set to hit free agency.
Heaps said the Seahawks must use free agency and the draft to get the best possible players up front for Seattle in 2021. Given the team’s history in the draft and free agency when it comes to piecing together its offensive line, that hasn’t always been the case.
“Don’t go out there and try and acquire somebody via free agency who is a project, whether that’s a position change, a former high-round pick that hasn’t worked out,” he said. “Go out there and get someone who is valued across the league as a good player and has been a good player and who’s not on the tail-end of their career.”
The Seahawks have often signed multiple low-end offensive linemen in free agency in the hopes of creating competition and hitting on someone for cheap. Additionally, the Seahawks haven’t done well drafting offensive linemen, but 2020 was different in that regard.
“From a draft perspective, (look at) Damien Lewis,” Heaps said of the 2020 third-round draft pick who started all 16 games for the Seahawks in 2020. “Want to know one of the reasons why Damien Lewis worked out? (He played) right guard at LSU (and then) played right guard for the Seahawks. That transition was there, it was easy, and you had the background and knew exactly what you were getting out of Damien Lewis and that’s why it worked.”
2. Employ a faster passing attack.
The Seahawks love taking shots down the field and Wilson is one of the best deep-ball passers in the NFL. The issue in 2020, especially over the second half of the season, was teams took away those opportunities by dropping seven players in coverage with two-high safeties while still being able to get pressure with four defensive linemen. That didn’t stop the Seahawks from trying to pass deep, though, and the result was Wilson being sacked and hit a lot as he would hold onto the ball for too long.
Heaps said that getting the ball out of Wilson’s hands faster and on a more consistent basis will go a long way in limiting those hits and sacks.
“A fully developed and diverse short passing game and intermediate passing game,” he said. “… I think those are things that can help your sack number or sack total.”
With a new offensive coordinator in Shane Waldron in the fold, that may be a more regular part of Seattle’s game plan, especially as the Rams, Waldron’s old team, have been great at quick passing and limiting quarterback hits and sacks in recent years.
3. Sync up the run and play-action passes.
Head coach Pete Carroll said he wants to run the ball more and be more effective at doing so in 2021. Heaps thinks that the run game will be key to help keep Wilson on his feet. He said a good example of what the Seahawks should be looking for going forward was in the Super Bowl.
“You watched Tampa Bay effectively be able to run the ball and run play-action pass off of it, which takes a lot of pressure off the offensive line and off of the quarterback,” he said.
4. Have an effective screen game.
As noted, Heaps wants the Seahawks to use a quicker passing attack next season. One way to do that is to run screen passes with a multitude of skill players.
“(Seattle must be) able to use your screen game with the running backs, the tight ends, with your receivers,” Heaps said.
For the full conversation, listen to the second hour of Tuesday’s Jake and Stacy at this link or in the player below.
Jake & Stacy