How concerned should the Seahawks be about Russell Wilson?
Pete Carroll didn’t want to jump to any sweeping conclusions in the wake of Sunday’s stunning 17-12 loss to the New York Giants, and even if he had specific critiques about his star quarterback, it would be out of character for the Seahawks coach to share them publicly.
But it doesn’t take a veteran coach’s eye to see clearly that Wilson isn’t the same player he was in the first half of the season, when the Seahawks had the NFL’s No. 1 scoring offense and Seattle was dreaming of another legitimate Super Bowl run.
They were far from that Sunday. Double-digit favorites, the Seahawks (8-4) were on the wrong end of one of the NFL’s biggest upsets of the season, and that was largely because of an offense that, more often than not lately, could be charitably be described as inconsistent.
“I’m gonna look at this game and break it down and figure it out, talk to Russ, talk to Schotty (offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer) and get to the essence of it,” Carroll said. “I’m not gonna just throw out some thought right now, you know, randomly. I’m really surprised that this is how we looked against this game plan that they had. I thought we could do a lot — a lot of stuff that just didn’t happen for us. I need to see why and really break it down. I can’t tell you right now.”
Wilson committed two more turnovers — dropping one snap and losing the fumble, and then throwing a fourth-quarter interception off the hands of Chris Carson — and generally looked more hesitant and indecisive than he has at any point this season.
“It was one of those days,” said Wilson, who finished 27 of 43 for 263 yards. “For me, I’ll go study the film and see where we can get better.”
Wilson was sacked five times and hit 10 times behind an offensive line that in the second half had to turn to fourth-string right tackle Chad Wheeler. Too often, Wilson held on to the ball in the pocket — four, five, six seconds elapsing — waiting for someone to get open. Too often, he was forced to scramble, with little to show for it.
The Seahawks scored a season-low 12 points, and two of those came from a blocked-punt-turned-safety in the second quarter. They had 327 yards — 64 below their season average — and just 4.7 yards per play.
The big pass plays for DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett downfield that seemed to come so easily in the first half of the season were closed off by a stingy Giants defense Sunday. Lockett left the game early after taking an awkward hit to the back of the head, though he did return. Metcalf, meanwhile didn’t get his first target until midway through the second quarter; he finished with five catches for 80 yards but couldn’t get the breakaway play the Seahawks needed.
Most glaringly, as Carroll and Wilson both noted, the Seahawks struggled in key situational downs: They were just 4 for 13 on third downs and failed to finish off their promising first drive when they reached the red zone.
“We’re continuing to have trouble on third down,” Carroll said. “It’s really hard to overcome that. … If you’re not doing well in first and second down. And first and second down was very quiet for us.”
Carroll has been open in the past couple of weeks about his desire for the offense to have more balance in the offense, particularly after Wilson combined for 10 turnovers during the four-game midseason stretch in which the Seahawks went 1-3.
He would like to use the run game more now that Chris Carson and Carlos Hyde are healthy again. Or close to healthy, anyway. Carroll acknowledged that Carson, in particular, isn’t 100% healthy yet from the foot injury that kept him out for a month.
Carson had 13 carries for 65 yards against the Giants and hauled in Wilson’s lone touchdown pass, a 28-yarder in the fourth quarter to cut Seattle’s deficit to 17-12.
But in the quest for balance, it is starting to seem as if the Seahawks have lost a bit of their offensive identity. What do they want to be, and how do they want to go about doing it?
Wilson, for one, tried to remain upbeat after Sunday’s struggles.
“I’m super confident about where we are, what we’re doing,” he said. “I think that we’ve got to be cleaner. Hopefully, we get healthy again — we need to be healthy. That’s part of this game you know and you want your guys to be healthy across the board.
“And I think also too is, obviously DK’s has an amazing season. Tyler’s been special. We’ve got to get ‘32’ going — you know, Chris. He’s going to be a key factor down the stretch. … We have everything we want. We have everything we need.”