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Gallant: Is Seahawks’ Russell Wilson now on downslope of his career?

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is entering his 10th season in the NFL. (Getty)

We won’t see a better version of Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson than the one we see right now. And that’s not a bad thing.

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He’s been playing at a top-five QB level for the past two seasons. But he’s probably reached his peak, right? And he plays a style that to me says he’s approaching those dreaded downward slopes.

So how far is Wilson – 32 years old now, 33 in November – from the inevitable decline that every quarterback not named Tom Brady experiences?

Don’t get mad. This is a fair question to ask, even if he’s coming off of back-to-back incredible statistical seasons. That’s because there’s been some troubling trends of late.

Russ must adjust his playing style going forward. It’s natural. He’s getting older. And while he’s still athletic, he certainly isn’t what he once was in terms of mobility. That’s not going to suddenly improve. Worse, the fact that he’s been sacked 40-plus times just about every season of his career (you can’t blame that all on the offensive line) shows how reliant he’s been on that mobility.

In a year where Wilson learns a largely – if not entirely – new Seahawks offense, how likely is it that he’d cut back on something he’s been dependent on in the past? Instincts and old habits might be his best friend during a transition like that, unless they’ve diminished a bit.

Last November, I scoffed when former NFL player Marcellus Wiley shared his opinion on FS1’s Speak For Yourself that Wilson finds a way to lose the MVP race down the stretch every year. Did he remember that final stretch that Russ had in 2015? But… he’s actually right.

Over the last two seasons, we’ve seen Wilson’s yards per attempt dramatically decline over the final month of the regular season (6.32 in December 2020 compared to 7.55 on the season, 7.15 in December 2019 compared to 7.97 on the season). We ripped Drew Brees when we witnessed a similar trend over the final seasons of his career, though it was a much more visible one. Isn’t it possible we’re witnessing that trend with Wilson now?

Sure, we’ve also criticized Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady for those same down-the-stretch issues, but look where they are now. There’s a difference for Russ, however: his height – something that he has in common with Brees. Brees figured out how to operate from the pocket in spite of his height, but it was out of necessity and early in his career. Can Russ get better at that in the middle of his career? And again, while learning a new offense?

I’m not ruling out the possibility that someone who grinds the way that Russ does can adapt his game. He certainly can become a better pocket passer. And on top of all that, the athleticism that he still has dwarfs what Brees and Brady brought to the table for the entirety of their careers. It’ll always be a weapon. But in a season last year where the Seahawks gave him more offensive weight to lift, Russ turned the ball over more than he ever had in his career and simply struggled down the stretch.

So perhaps we’re on the downslope after all.

Follow Paul Gallant on Twitter.

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