Seahawks’ loss exposes how much they depend now on Russell Wilson

Dec 11, 2016, 7:23 PM
With Russell Wilson having an extremely off day, the Seahawks fell by 28 points to Green Bay. (AP)...
With Russell Wilson having an extremely off day, the Seahawks fell by 28 points to Green Bay. (AP)

For all the mistakes that Russell Wilson made on Sunday in Wisconsin – and there were enough to build a snow bank alongside Lambeau Field – accountability was not among them.

“I put that on me,” Seattle’s quarterback said afterward. “That game was on me.”

Well, let’s not go too far. When a team loses by 28 points like the Seahawks did, there’s plenty of blame to go around whether it was the pass rush that failed to so much as get a whiff of Aaron Rodgers to a defense that failed to force a turnover.

But Wilson is right: He was the most culpable with what was his worst game as a pro.

“He had a hard time tonight,” coach Pete Carroll said.

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It wasn’t just about the throws Wilson made, though he had a career-high five passes that were intercepted. It was also about the two plays he didn’t make, overthrowing first Doug Baldwin and then Jimmy Graham in the first quarter on plays in which each had pulled open behind the defense.

“Those would have been great opportunities for us early in the game,” Carroll said. “Where we would have been able to hang with them and stay with it. It could have been entirely. The thing just snowballed on us and it just turned out to be a terrible night.”

Diagnosing what went wrong is actually fairly easy. Wilson overthrew two open receivers early as Seattle fell into a hole and then underthrew a pair of targets as he was trying to bring Seattle back. Throw in a couple of late interceptions that came on balls that bounced off their intended targets and Wilson – in one game – matched the most interceptions he had thrown in any two-game span in his career.

After being picked off just twice in his first 342 pass attempts this season, Wilson has now been intercepted eight times in the last 101 attempts. He played so poorly on Sunday that you almost wondered if he was sick.

Carroll was asked afterward if his quarterback was OK physically.

“Yeah,” Carroll said. “That would be easy, huh? No. He’s fine.”

Describing how the game got away from Wilson isn’t nearly as important as putting its significance in perspective.

Seattle is now a team that lives and dies by its quarterback’s performance. That’s not necessarily a new or even a novel situation in this league. It’s the reality Aaron Rodgers has faced for years. And Drew Brees. And Peyton Manning, up until the final season of his NFL career, and the only reason you can’t put Tom Brady on that list is that the Patriots won 11 games in the season he missed with a knee injury and went 3-1 during his suspension earlier this season.

This isn’t to say that Russell Wilson is finally a franchise quarterback. It’s been obvious he is since the final month of his rookie season.

But now, his team is just as dependent on its franchise quarterback as every other team in the league, and that wasn’t always the case with the Seahawks.

Not in 2013 when the defense was good enough to mask the stench of an offensive clunker like that Monday night game in St. Louis when the Seahawks gained all of 135 yards – more than half coming on one touchdown play.

When the Seahawks won in Houston that year to go 4-0 for the first time in franchise history, it was the defense that scored the game-tying touchdown to force overtime.

This isn’t to diminish Wilson’s role. He was the team’s biggest difference maker. Someone who could extend drives by scrambling and was incredibly accurate while throwing on the move.

But Seattle didn’t depend on him. Not like this.

Now, if Wilson plays well, Seattle is good enough to win on the road in New England. That’s what happened just last month when Wilson outplayed Tom Brady.

And when he doesn’t play well?

Well, the Seahawks are liable to score five points in Tampa Bay, which was almost as bad as losing by 28 points in Green Bay in a game where the only question was if Wilson had ever played a worse game for Seattle.

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Seahawks’ loss exposes how much they depend now on Russell Wilson