Bumpus: Don’t write off Seahawks QB Russell Wilson for one down year
A big reason the 2021 Seahawks season has been maddening for the team and its fans has been how out of the ordinary the results have been on the field.
In many of their 10 losses, Seattle has appeared to have the edge on paper in talent alone. But things just haven’t seemed to click, especially on offense, such as in Sunday’s shocking 25-24 loss to a lowly Chicago Bears team that was down to its third-string quarterback.
“What makes this year so frustrating is, on paper, this team should be fighting for the division and getting ready for the playoffs, but the chemistry and the connection is off,” said Michael Bumpus, Seahawks Radio Network studio host and a former NFL wide receiver, to 710 ESPN Seattle’s Wyman and Bob on Monday. “Seeing Russell Wilson miss Tyler Lockett on a play that I feel like he’s made 100 times in his career is just a perfect example of what this team is. You can call the right play in the right situation but something is going to happen to where the execution just fails.
“Do they have enough talent? Most definitely. That’s what makes this more frustrating.”
No one player’s struggles has received as much attention as Wilson’s. The seven-time Pro Bowler’s season was interrupted by a right middle finger injury and subsequent surgery, and his play since returning after just three games out has led many to question if he came back too soon or if his finger has fully healed yet. Now he has just two more games this season to improve upon his 47.6 quarterback rating, which is 9.5 points lower than his current career-worst QBR from 2016.
Bumpus, who joins Dave Wyman and Bob Stelton each Monday to talk the Seahawks, had an interesting back and forth with Stelton about Wilson on Monday that’s worth diving into. Let’s break down what they had to say.
Don’t write off Russell Wilson just yet
At 33 years old, Wilson had never struggled much as a pro until this season. In fact, his last losing season was in 2009, when he was a sophomore at North Carolina State and the Wolfpack finished 5-7. But it’s important to know that his injury isn’t the only tough blow he’s had to deal with in 2021. Wilson was very close with his mental conditioning coach Trevor Moawad, who died in September.
Bumpus pointed to that as something that is impossible to measure but should be considered when talking about Wilson’s season.
“There are a lot of things going on in this man’s life. He lives a lifestyle that none of us could even imagine. I mean, losing his mental coach this year, he’s been injured for the first time. There are some things that he’s battling, and he definitely doesn’t look like the Russell Wilson we’ve seen in the last nine years.”
While Wilson is getting older and has been much less of a running threat in 2021, both Bumpus and Stelton are preaching caution when it comes to writing off everything the Seahawks QB had done previous to this year.
“I see a guy who’s pressing. I see a guy who’s trying to hit the home run every time and trying to make the plays,” Stelton said. “… (But) it’s as if the previous nine years never happened. You can look at where he ranks historically among quarterbacks in their first 10 years and he’s top five in a bunch of categories, yet here we are in a down year – and I’m not making excuses for him, he’s not been great, but the idea that all of the sudden he stinks and ‘Oh, he’s never really been that good, it was the Legion of Boom that carried him, it was Marshawn Lynch that carried him,’ I’m thinking, well, somebody threw all of these touchdown passes. Somebody threw 40 touchdown passes last year. It wasn’t the defense, it wasn’t Marshawn – how many bad offensive lines has this guy made up for? The revisionist history, if you will, or just sort of the more prisoner of the moment is frustrating.”
Bumpus said he is seeing a different Wilson both on the field and on the sideline.
“I see a guy who is not having the fun he used to have. … I’m not saying he has to be going around smiling and all cheerful out there, but I don’t see a guy communicating with his teammates the way he used to, he’s not making the throws he used to make. It looks like he’s playing tight, he’s missing guys high, so I don’t know if it’s his technique, his mentality, or just him not having chemistry with his players.”
But that’s not enough for Bumpus to think Wilson can’t bounce back in 2022.
“Don’t forget what he’s done for you. And you’re right, he tossed 40 touchdowns last year. It’s OK for him to have one down year out of 10,” Bumpus said. “Has he peaked? Who knows? I think as you get older, ability goes away but other things are enhanced – your feel for the game, your understanding of where players are supposed to be, your leadership-type qualities. I think this is the first time Russell has dealt with (this much) adversity since, what, 2009, his sophomore year in college? You have to allow him to try to figure this thing out.
“It’s OK to be frustrated with the way he’s playing. But to just say that he’s done off of one bad year, I would pump the brakes on that – quickly.”
You can hear the full conversation between Bumpus, Stelton and Wyman in the first segment of the podcast at this link or in the player below.
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