Why Washington Is The Perfect Landing Spot For Russell Wilson
By Andy Davies
The Seattle Seahawks are enduring their worst season in recent memory, with double digit losses. This is the first time this has happened during the Russell Wilson and Pete Carroll era.
This has caused a lot of media talk about whether one of the two should go, an argument that is valid considering how stale Seattle’s style of play has become during these past two to three seasons.
QB Under Pressure
Wilson was rumoured to be on his way out of Seattle during the offseason last year but eventually decided to stay put with the Seahawks. However, the season has not helped things. He has consistently been one of the most sacked quarterbacks in the league each year. Only two quarterbacks were sacked more than Wilson in both 2020 (47) and 2018 (51), who was tied for the number one sacked quarterback in 2019 (48). He was also the fourth most sacked quarterback in 2017 (43) and the second most quarterback in 2016 (41). In fact, 2014 was the last season where he was not in the top five sacked quarterbacks and this was a campaign where they went all the way to the Super Bowl.
He will break the mould this season, currently the 13th most sacked quarterback. However, the 2021 campaign saw Wilson miss a regular season start for the first time in his career. He has been a figure of consistency, with injuries never normally a factor. As a result, he has played 13 games. He was only seven sacks away from being in the top five most sacked quarterbacks this season and would have done so behind this Seattle offensive line that has failed to be addressed by this Seahawks organisation.
As a unit, they have allowed the eighth-most sacks this season. Wilson won a Super Bowl ring back in the 2013 campaign and will want to hold a second Lombardi Trophy before he retired. As it stands, Carroll’s run first offense that has struggled to block for years is wasting the talent of Wilson. The front office may realise this and go a new direction and hire a new passing-orientated head coach.
If they show loyalty to Carroll and do not address their issues in the draft and Free Agency, Wilson may say enough is enough. There will be plenty of teams that will be searching for a new quarterback. The Pittsburgh Steelers are one with the pending retirement of Ben Roethlisberger and the Minnesota Vikings could be another one if Kirk Cousins is traded out of the building due to his vaccination status or a new head coach not trusting him. However, here is why the Washington Football Team are a perfect landing spot for Russ.
Mirror Image Of Tampa Bay Success
When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers ended the 2019 season 7-9, the narrative was that they were a quarterback away from having a good team. Despite Jameis Winston finishing the campaign as the passing yards leader, he also threw for 33 touchdowns and 30 interceptions. With Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Cameron Brate on offense and Shaq Barrett, Lavonte David and Devin White on defense, the pieces were there. The news was then announced in the offseason that Tom Brady was to leave the New England Patriots.
This sent the media into a frenzy as to who they will go to. In the end, Tampa Bay beat the Los Angeles Chargers to the addition of the greatest quarterback to ever play the game. This instantly made the Buccaneers Super Bowl contenders. On ‘Good Morning Football, Kyle Brandt, Nate Burleson and Peter Schrager all predicted that they would end up in Super Bowl 55 in their own backyard when they did their annual season predictions. When you look back, it should have been obvious to everyone. They had two 1,000-yard receivers in Godwin and Evans during the 2019 season and the sack leader in Barrett (19.5).
Barrett also had 6 forced fumbles, 58 total tackles and 37 quarterback hits. David had 3 forced fumbles and 123 total tackles. White had 3 forced fumbles, 91 total tackles and four fumble recoveries for a total of 112 yards. They took a while to get going but made the postseason as a Wildcard Team, defeating Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, and Patrick Mahomes in the playoffs.
Wilson would go into a Washington team facing a similar situation. They will end the campaign with their fifth straight losing season, their 14th of the 21st century. They made the playoffs as the NFC East champions despite a 7-9 record and Taylor Heinicke became the star of their playoff loss to Tampa Bay, putting in a heroic performance. However, he has not quite had the same impact this season.
With 20 touchdowns, 15 interceptions and 3,299 yards, this puts him in the middle to low range of the quarterback stats. He ranks 19th in passing yards, 17th in passing touchdowns and only The Rams’ Matthew Stafford and Jacksonville Jaguars’ number one overall pick and rookie QB Trevor Lawrence has thrown for more interceptions than Heinicke this season. Stafford has also recorded those interceptions for a team that topped the NFC West and ended with a 12-5 record, which could make you think all is not too bad with Heinicke’s campaign. Then again, he has thrown for 21 more touchdowns and 1,467 more passing yards.
Washington has a quarterback that does okay, but he is not enough to take this team to the next level. Just like Brady, Wilson will be going into a team that has weapons galore. Wide receiver Terry McLaurin ended the 2021 campaign with 1,053 yards and 5 touchdowns from 73 receptions. Running back Antonio Gibson has 1,037 yards and 7 touchdowns from 258 carries. Russ may have the same issues in terms of the offensive line, who have only allowed three less sacks.
The defense has declined this year when you look at their pass defense, which was the fourth worst in the league. They were also 25th in the league for total points allowed. There can be a positive to take from the fact they are only a year removed from having the second-best pass defense, the 14th best run defense and allowing the fourth fewest total points. They can also be encouraged by the improvement in the run defense, which currently sits at seventh in the NFL.
Washington fans will be treated to a new team name in early February and should not automatically expect to be treated to a deep Super Bowl run or even better, a Super Bowl 57 appearance. Despite this, you just never know. Wilson will certainly improve this offense, elevate the numbers for Gibson, McLaurin, and the other offensive weapons on display. He will make them contenders and that is all that Washington fans want at this stage, for the team to be competitive and give them hope. It is reported that they will have the fifth-best Salary Cap going into the 2022 offseason. Free agent signings, extensions and trades can be made by the Washington front office in order to give this team the best chance of success in 2022 and beyond.
Feature Image Credit: Mark J. Rebilas (USA Today Sports)
A current Sports Journalism masters student, Andy has been writing NFL articles since January 2020. Originally from Wales, Andy also writes for pro football mania and dolphins talk, as well as appearing on podcasts and videos for euro tripz. find him on twitter @andydaviessport.