On the surface, it would seem a stretch to portray the final two games of the Seahawks’ season as being of vital importance to quarterback Russell Wilson.
After all, the best-case scenario would be a 7-10 record for the Seahawks, and that would still qualify as a dismal failure for everyone involved. And one can also make the case that Wilson doesn’t really have anything to prove as he nears the end of his 10th season as the Seahawks’ signal caller.
Maybe not, but Wilson certainly has some things to reinforce. Namely, that he hasn’t lost his status as an elite quarterback, one who gives his team a chance to win games, and titles, by his mere presence.
That has been the rightful claim about Wilson over a lengthy span of his career, but it certainly hasn’t been the case this year. The Seahawks, with just Sunday’s game against the Lions and a road game against Arizona the following week remaining, have a chance to win fewer games than they have in any season since 2009.
And Wilson’s play is suddenly under more scrutiny than it has been since his rookie season. For whatever reason — injuries, age, an offensive philosophy by the Seahawks that ill-suits him — Wilson has been off-kilter all season; or at least since the opener against Indianapolis, which he tellingly cited on Thursday as the paragon of the sort of fully-functioning offensive performance to which the Seahawks should aspire. The fact that it hasn’t been replicated in the 14 games since is alarming.
Once again, rumors are starting to fly about whether Wilson will be back in Seattle for the final two years of his contract, or if the Seahawks will opt to trade him to jump-start a rebuilding process. In another telling moment in his weekly news conference Thursday, Wilson — unsolicited — broached the possibility that this Sunday against the Lions could be his final home game at Lumen Field.
“I hope it’s not my last game,” he said. “But at the same time, I know it won’t be my last game in the NFL.”
Which plays into why I think these final two games have far more import that one would think. For Wilson to finish strong, to turn in a couple of vintage Russell performances in which he executes the offense with confidence, precision, and copious yardage and points, would hugely benefit all parties involved. And far beyond the potential incremental improvement in the win-loss record.
It would help improve Wilson’s trade value if the offseason veers in that direction, or give the Seahawks a better feeling about their future with Wilson as their focal point and leader if it doesn’t.
It would help appease fans and critics who point to regression by Wilson and wonder if it’s irreversible. It would provide credence for the theory that Wilson’s problems this year are mostly attributable to the midseason finger injury that stands as an undeniable line of demarcation in 2021.
Finally, it would help prove to Wilson himself that the regimen, mindset and sensibility that, well, makes Russ Russ, and that he still adheres to with complete faith, is still viable as he hits his mid-30s.
The Seahawks have some monumental decisions looming, and the status of Wilson is at the very core of them. His apparent dissatisfaction with various aspects of the Seahawks rose to the surface last year and led to weeks of speculation about whether he would be traded. If that was the case after a season in which the Seahawks went 12-4 and won the NFC West title, it’s hard to imagine Wilson is filled with contentment after a season of double-digit losses.
Just last week, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, citing “league sources,” wrote that there is “little to no chance” of a contract extension for Wilson in Seattle, that “another contentious offseason is likely ahead for the future Hall of Fame passer,” and “the prospect of a blockbuster trade remains very real.”
Get ready for a barrage of such speculation. Wilson stated Thursday that his career goal is to win three more Super Bowls. Asked if he sees a path to accomplishing that in Seattle, he replied, “I hope so. Obviously, we can’t do it with not being in the playoffs right now.”
The direction of this offseason for the Seahawks will in many ways be determined not just by Wilson’s answer to that question in his heart-of-hearts (which might be very different than the one he gives on the podium), but by whether the Seahawks truly believe that their best route back to the Super Bowl is with Wilson at the helm.
Those weighty answers obviously don’t all hinge on these last two games. You can’t just throw out the four months of struggles by Wilson and the Seahawks that preceded them. But Wilson can certainly sway the narrative by showing that the indispensable superstar of years past is still lurking within.
The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.