MICHAEL GREY

Seahawks’ offense needs Wilson to shoulder more of the load than ever

Oct 22, 2014, 11:59 AM | Updated: 12:42 pm

Sunday's game against St. Louis showed how much the Seahawks will have to rely on Russell Wilson going forward given all their offensive issues. (AP)

(AP)

In Russ We Trust.

Those four words make for a fun mantra for fans when the Seahawks are winning games and Russell Wilson is peeling back against a pass rush and winging the ball to Doug Baldwin or escaping pressure and scrambling for a first down.

But can that be an effective offensive game plan?

We’re about to find out.

It’s not a secret that the Seahawks are struggling and it’s not terribly difficult to understand why.

Defensively, they had their depth depleted along the line and in the secondary by free agency then suffered injuries at linebacker, safety and to their second, third and fourth cornerbacks. I’ll leave the defensive conversation for another day.

Offensively, the Seahawks are starting a rookie a right tackle and an injured veteran at left tackle. They’re missing their center, their best run-blocking tight end as well as his backup, and their fullback. To add insult to the injuries they also just traded away the player thought to be the key game-breaking piece of the passing attack less than a week ago.

Injuries and inexperience are a part of the NFL and not an excuse, but they are a legitimate explanation of some of the trouble that the Seahawks have had. The question for this team is what to do following back-to-back losses when these issues aren’t going to magically go away.

In the short term, it’s going to mean that Wilson is to the Seahawks what cowbell is to Christopher Walken and the only cure for what ails Seattle’s offense is more Russell.

With Percy Harvin no longer a part of the gameplan, Seattle should look more like the 2013 version in terms of scheme – i.e. Marshawn Lynch running the ball and Wilson being efficient in the passing game – but can the Seahawks execute at the same level?

The Rams are 28th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game at 145 but the Seahawks could only muster 53 yards on 18 carries from Lynch on Sunday. Wilson, meanwhile, became the first quarterback in league history to throw for over 300 yards and run for over 100. The record-setting performance wasn’t enough to overcome an anemic first half and two inexcusable gaffs on special teams, but it did give a glimpse of what Seattle can still do – create from the quarterback position.

I said earlier in the year that the difference between the Seahawks and other teams is that they have Wilson and opponents don’t, and that’s still the case. Now, however, it’s more important than ever because without having to account for Harvin, defenses will load up on that struggling offensive line and make stopping Lynch the top priority.

While the Seahawks still need to rely on Lynch, it’s fair to assume in the short term that he’s not going to be enough. Defenses must be kept honest by a healthy dose of smash-mouth football, but it’s clear that the only unstoppable element to their offense as it exists right now is what Wilson can create under center. At the end of the day, this offense – and this team – goes as far as Wilson can take it.

Is this unfair? Perhaps. Is it risky? Absolutely.

But this is where the Seahawks find themselves with three incredibly important games starting with Sunday’s trip to Carolina. Wilson needs to lead and throw and run and create and evade and facilitate and do it all without getting hurt in the process. It’s no small task, but honestly, is there anyone you’d rather see under that kind of pressure than No. 3?

The statisticians will have you believe that the Seahawks are already underdogs to even make the playoffs, much less defend a Super Bowl title after their 3-3 start. Who better to lead a group of underdogs than the guy that defines the phenomenon?

In Russ We Trust. It isn’t just a T-shirt campaign anymore. It’s the key to the Seahawks turning their season around.

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