Clayton: Where Seahawks’ Russell Wilson is right, and where he is wrong

Feb 11, 2021, 3:34 PM

Seahawks QB Russell Wilson...

Seahawks QB Russell Wilson is also to blame for Seattle's high sack totals. (Getty)


Last year, the Seahawks’ offseason theme was “Let Russ Cook.” This year’s theme is different. It’s “Let Russ Fume.”

Four ways the Seahawks can address Russell Wilson’s sacks problem

Russell Wilson has been pretty pointed in his interviews following Super Bowl LV. He wants a voice in personnel decisions. He wants to get hit less. He wants to get a better offensive line.

Does he want to be traded? No, and he won’t be traded. He’s too valuable to the franchise.

Even though Tom Brady is 11 years older than Wilson, the New England Patriots won six games while he helped the Tampa Bay Buccaneers win the Super Bowl. Trading Wilson would turn the Seahawks into a six- or seven-win team. Head coach Pete Carroll didn’t do a five-year extension, and general manager John Schneider didn’t sign a six-year extension for that to happen. Even if there is strain in the relationship between Wilson and the Seahawks, they are going to be together indefinitely.

Here’s where Russell is right and wrong.

He’s right that he does get hit too often. He’s been sacked 394 times in 144 regular-season games. That is too much. The last time he’s been sacked less than 40 times in a season was his rookie year in 2012 (33 sacks). At the time, the Seahawks were a run-first team with Marshawn Lynch as the star. Carroll wants more running plays now but he’s not going back to what Seattle was in 2012. He’s going to an offense like what the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers run.

Wilson had a voice in the hiring of offensive coordinator Shane Waldron, and that should help the situation. Jared Goff was never sacked more than 33 times in his four years under Rams head coach Sean McVay. In three of those seasons, he was sacked 25 times or less. In San Francisco, Jimmy Garoppolo was sacked 36 times in 2019 and only 32 times total in 15 games over his three other seasons with the 49ers. And remember, Goff and Jimmy G. aren’t as mobile as Wilson.

According to NextGen Stats, Garoppolo holds on to the ball only 2.57 seconds per attempt. Goff is at 2.76 seconds. Wilson is 2.97, the fifth-longest in the league. That has to change, and the Rams/49ers-style scheme should cut that down. The ball needs to come out quicker, and it should.

Here are a couple of areas in which Wilson was wrong.

Pro Football Focus counts 14 of Wilson’s 47 sacks being on him and not the offensive line. That’s second-most in the league. Wilson said he needs to play better, but he can’t keep holding onto the ball as long he does.

The big mistake was throwing the offensive line under the bus. Seattle’s 2020 line was much better than the previous two seasons. ESPN ranked it ninth-best in pass-block win ratio. Right tackle Brandon Shell was an upgrade from Gemain Ifedi. Damien Lewis was one of the best rookie blockers this past season. And Schneider will be doing his best to make the line better this offseason.

Ripping the line could turn a 47-sack season into a 60-sack season if the blockers are upset with Wilson, and that should be the case. Wilson needs to make amends to his line. Duane Brown played all season with sore knee. Shell fought through injuries to be out there for his quarterback.

We’ll see how Wilson handles things the rest of the offseason, but the theme isn’t helping his cause.

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