“I’m frustrated with getting hit too much.” – Russell Wilson
Did Shane Waldron know what he was getting into when he hired on with the Seahawks?
We already knew he was key to the Seahawks’ Super Bowl hopes – the offense needing some good innovation to beat stellar defenses and advance beyond the first two rounds of the playoffs. But Russell Wilson’s callout of John Schneider and Pete Carroll this week really puts the heat on Waldron, a first-time playcaller who suddenly appears to hold Wilson’s future in his game plans (assuming the relationship between Wilson and Carroll is salvageable).
Like the rest of us, Wilson is annoyed that the Seahawks have not been back to the Super Bowl in six years. And, like some fans, he is now blaming it on the offensive line and publicly calling on Schneider and Carroll to fix it.
Why did he do that? Wilson knows he is entering the back half of his career. He is six years removed from back-to-back Super Bowl appearances, and he clearly is tired of coming up short. He has spoken several times this offseason of “the next 10 years,” his desire to win more championships and his “legacy.”
That was never more on his mind than Sunday at the Super Bowl in Tampa. Cameras panned to an obviously annoyed Wilson, the NFL’s Man of the Year, as he sat with wife Ciara and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, watching Tom Brady — already the ultimate NFL champion quarterback — win a mindboggling seventh title.
As Wilson told Dan Patrick on Tuesday, “I’m sitting there pissed off, wishing that I was in there playing.”
Patrick pressed him about all of the sacks he has taken in his career – a league-high 394 since 2012 – and Wilson finally gave him his real thoughts.
“It’s a big thing we’ve got to fix, that’s got to be fixed, and has to be at the end of the day,” Wilson told Patrick, emphasizing the point three times in one sentence. “My goal is to play 10-15 more years. You think about that longevity and legacy and all of that.
“Throughout the next 10 years, it’s really important … that we make sure we do everything we can, including myself — do everything we can …”
Wilson later told reporters he’s “frustrated getting hit too much. I’m frustrated with that part of it.”
Seattle’s line in 2020 actually was one of the better units Wilson has had and was among the NFL’s top 10 in pass block win rate. But injuries made the unit struggle against good defensive fronts toward the end of the season, and Wilson became a bit skittish and gun shy. Coupled with Brian Schottenheimer’s failing schemes, it all was enough to make the offense “flatline,” as Wilson said after the playoff ouster by Waldron’s Rams.
The uber-patient, oft-magical quarterback shares plenty of the blame for the sacks he has taken in his nine-year career. He admits he stands in there too long at times, looking for a big play, and he admits he needs to be better. But that seems to be an addendum to his bigger concern.
“I’ve been sacked almost 400 times, so we’ve got to get better,” he said, adding, “I’ve got to find ways to get better, too.”
That’s where Waldron comes in. As we already have detailed, Waldron must put together diverse offensive schemes that will help Wilson and the line get off to a fast start (like 2020) and sustain it, overcoming great defenses in December and January to reach the Super Bowl.
Even if they can do that in 2021, will it be enough for Carroll and Wilson to co-exist for much longer? Wilson is signed through 2023, Carroll through 2025 — but Carroll will be 70 in September and might just go another two or three years. In other words, they might be finished with the Hawks at the same time, leaving Schneider to hire his own coach and find another QB. It’s really just a matter of time on both counts.
Some think the relationship between Wilson and Carroll — and now perhaps Schneider — is irrevocably broken.
Brandon Marshall, Wilson’s teammate in 2018, thinks “Russ wants to stay there, but he knows that Pete Carroll is going to continue to give him the runaround (not listen to or help Wilson). … I just think it’s getting to a point where Russ doesn’t believe.”
That explains why Wilson wants more say in personnel matters. Last year, he asked for more stars. Schneider tried to oblige, overpaying Greg Olsen after Wilson lobbied to add him and then trading for impact defenders Jamal Adams and Carlos Dunlap. It helped that DK Metcalf also emerged as a star.
This year, Wilson said he wanted to be part of the hiring process to replace Schottenheimer (whom he did not want fired), and by all accounts he was very involved in bringing Waldron to Seattle and says “he’s going to be a great offensive coordinator.”
While some think Wilson’s public criticisms are some kind of negotiating ploy or a device for forcing a trade, Wilson has made it very clear that he senses the clock ticking on his career now and doesn’t want to waste any more years with playoff flameouts.
As Patrick said Wednesday, he wants to “create a sense of urgency.” A source also told Patrick, “The current situation is not sustainable.”
Wilson made it clear to reporters that he is watching to see if Carroll and Schneider do the things he thinks will get them back to the Super Bowl: “I’ve always put my trust in the Seahawks trying to do whatever it takes to win, and hopefully that will continue. I think that’s a key part. I think part of that is how we go about the protection part of it.”
Wilson always has been steadfast in his desire to play his entire career in Seattle. But, if he feels let down after 2021, many now think Wilson would ask for a trade next year.
For the first time, he wavered about his commitment, telling Patrick: “The reality of professional sports is things happen, things change. I’m not sure how long I’ll play in Seattle. Hopefully it will be forever. But things change, obviously, along the way. You focus on what you can control every day and try to be the best version of yourself, ultimately try to win championships. That’s why I play this game.”
And that’s why Waldron is in Seattle — to make sure they do win more titles. But, whether the new OC knew it or not, Wilson’s future in Seattle is at least partially in his hands.