For anybody wondering if Russell Wilson is OK physically after being sacked 11 times the past two weeks, he stiff-armed the topic with four quick words Tuesday.
“Yeah, I feel great,’’ Wilson said via Zoom when asked if he’s healthy.
Not that there’s any tangible reason to think he isn’t — he hasn’t missed a snap, nor showed up on an injury report this season.
But in the search for reasons why Wilson has had an uncharacteristic stretch of misplays the past few weeks, it’s natural to wonder if the sacks and 23 quarterback hits he’s taken the past two weeks have taken a toll.
Wilson’s answer was typical of a news conference in which he made clear he wasn’t dwelling on the 10 combined turnovers (seven interceptions and three fumbles) the past four games (all occurring in three defeats) and was quickly moving on to the game Thursday night against Arizona.
And he insisted he feels mentally fine too, saying there’s been no loss of confidence incurred during a stretch in which he has gone from the clear front-runner for the NFL MVP award to falling behind Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes in the Vegas MVP odds this week for the first time since the second week of the season.
“We’ve been super upbeat,’’ Wilson said when asked the feeling in the locker room after a franchise-best 5-0 start turned into a 6-3 record and a three-way tie for the NFC West lead. “We’ve had some tough challenges along the way but everybody’s upbeat, everybody has great belief. There’s no doubt that we’re talented, there’s no doubt that we can do some great things.
“ … You know, every week it has a new history of its own, every game tells its own story, game has a new history, and you’ve got to treat it that way. You can’t say ‘one-and-oh this week’ and say it when you’re winning and not say it when you’re not winning.’’
Still, Wilson didn’t sidestep that the turnovers can’t continue, even if he didn’t feel like spending much time dissecting them publicly.
“Just got to make clearer decisions,’’ he said. “I don’t want to overcomplicate it.’’
In fact, that’s been the theme of the past few days in the talks he’s had with offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, who said his message to Wilson has been to “simplify your thinking. … simplify your thought process.’’
Wilson’s first interception last Sunday, on a pass in the end zone to tight end Will Dissly when it appeared Wilson could have run for 10 yards or more, appeared to be a case of trying to make the great play instead of the obvious one.
“He’s the first one to be like, ‘Yeah, I know, I overthought that,’ ’’ Schottenheimer said. “He (Dissly) flashed, he thought he had him so he did it. So it’s getting back to knowing when you make good decisions, as talented as a thrower he is, when you’re making good decisions, you’re not going to turn the ball over. That’s why he’s always had those (low interception) numbers because he’s a brilliant passer. And when you’re making good decisions and you’re keeping a simple thought process, the ball’s out of your hand and you don’t put the ball in harm’s way.’’
As for why Wilson might suddenly be overthinking things?
Schottenheimer said, “Just competing.’’
Indeed, the most obvious reason for the turnovers is the Seahawks being behind — they’ve trailed for all but 9 minutes, 53 seconds of the past two games — and Wilson feeling some urgency to make something happen.
Wilson has seven interceptions in 130 attempts when the Seahawks are tied or trailing (and five in 97 when behind) and three in 103 attempts when ahead.
All three fumbles also came when Seattle was behind, his one last week coming when Wilson tried to salvage a low snap on a third-and-eight play with 13:40 left.
Schottenheimer noted that Wilson’s other interception Sunday, a diving grab by Rams cornerback Darious Williams on an out route to Greg Olsen on third-and-nine with 7:59 left, was mostly one chalked up to a guy on the other side just being a little bit better.
“That wasn’t a bad decision,’’ Schottenheimer said. “That was a great play by a defender that squatted on a route, anticipated something, made a diving catch. And those things sometimes happen in football playing this position.’’
Still, Wilson is one of the highest-paid players in the NFL at $35 million a year and the player around whom Seattle’s success rests the most.
Schottenheimer made it clear that Wilson will be held as accountable as anyone for needing to cut down the mistakes — Wilson’s 10 interceptions in nine games are already just one off his career high of 11 in the 2016 and 2017 seasons.
“He needs to play better,’’ Schottenheimer said. “He knows that we can’t turn the ball over. … The turnovers, he knows he has to be better with that. We coach him no different than everybody else, you know — it’s non-negotiable. You have to take care of the football. There’s big momentum swings.’’
Wilson indicated he’s not only gotten the message, but plans to prove it Thursday.
The Seahawks have never lost three games in a row with Wilson as quarterback, having lost two in the regular season eight previous times.
Asked if he could remember ever losing three in a row at any level, Wilson dismissed the question as something not even worth considering.
“I don’t ever think about that,’’ he said. “I don’t ever think that way.’’ (For what it’s worth, North Carolina State lost four in a row with Wilson as the starter in 2009).
Schottenheimer, too, was stressing the positive Tuesday.
“I think the number one thing to say is we completely trust Russ,’’ Schottenheimer said. “Russ will get through this. I really believe that.’’