With the Seahawks' season over, it's time to review each position group. We'll start with the quarterbacks, where injuries contributed to a rough season for Russell Wilson.
Now that the Seahawks’ season is over — albeit a bit earlier than anyone wanted or intended – it’s time to review the year that was.
We’ll do so by taking a look at each of the team’s position groups over the next week, reviewing the season that passed and looking ahead to possible offseason moves and what the outlook could be for 2017.
We’ll start with the most visible, if not important position, in the game – quarterback.
Snaps played: 1,008 of 1,059 total, 95.18 percent (per Pro Football Reference).
Contract situation: Signed through 2020.
2016 stats: 353-546, 4,219 yards, 64.7 percent, 21 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, 72 rushes for 259 yards.
Snaps played: 53 of 1,059, 4.82 percent.
Contract situation: Signed through 2018.
2016 stats: 13-18, 145 yards, 72.2 percent, one touchdown, one interception, eight rushes for one yard.
Wilson suffered the first significant injuries of his career in 2016, beginning with the third quarter of the first game of the season. And any assessment of his season has to be considered in the context of those injuries.
The early ankle and knee ailments prevented Wilson from running much for most of the year and he was held to career lows in rushing attempts and yards — he also had a career-low long run of 18, speaking to how the injuries changed his game.
Conversely, Wilson set career highs in passing attempts, completions and yards as the team had to adjust its offense to compensate for what Wilson could handle physically each week.
That Wilson finished with his second-best completion percentage of his career speaks to an ability to alter his game that many observers weren’t sure he had earlier in his career.
But Wilson’s injuries (along with the young offensive line and other injuries to the likes of Thomas Rawls) also prevented the Seahawks from ever really finding their groove as an offense.
Wilson, for instance, finished with 21 touchdown passes, and a touchdown percentage of just 3.8, the lowest of his career, illustrating the team’s frustrating offensive inefficiency in 2016.
Seattle’s pass-to-run percentage of 59.37 was also its highest since Carroll’s first year in 2010 (61.20) and Carroll said in his end-of-season press conference that “I don’t like the way it split pass and run this year. That’s not the way we want to be.’’
A healthier Wilson and Rawls and a more stable offensive line should allow the Seahawks to (hopefully) return to a more normal run-pass balance in 2017.
Carroll also is looking for Wilson to continue to progress in the finer points of the position as a quarterback next season in what will be his sixth year in the NFL.
Specifically, Wilson at times was guilty of hanging on to the ball too long, contributing to some of his 41 sacks, and at other times of bailing too quickly out of the pocket. The injuries likely contributed to each, with Wilson going through a stretch where from week-to-week the offense was being tailored a bit to adjust to what he could do — a logical route to take, but also one that seemed to make it hard for the offense to establish an identity.
After Seattle decided not to re-sign veteran Tarvaris Jackson, Boykin — an undrafted free agent from TCU — emerged as the backup. Boykin saw his most meaningful action in the regular season finale when he played much of the fourth quarter after the team replaced Wilson with playoff seeding all but set. Boykin completed 4-6 passes to lead a late drive to run the clock out.
GRADE: B. Wilson deserves lots of praise for playing through the injuries, and at times not just playing but playing well. And that the offense suffered as Wilson ached only reinforced his value to the team. But while the injuries give the grade a caveat, this was not Wilson’s best season.
Wilson said he won’t need any surgeries, just a little time to get healthy.
As for what Wilson needs to work on next season, Carroll offered this assessment on Monday: “Just continued comfort with what’s going on and his sense and anticipation for stuff. I think he’ll feel the pocket better, I think he’ll feel the receivers better, I think he’ll feel the urgency more clearly. Remember that we’re comparing him to guys that have played for 11, 12 years. … Just getting the ball out is a huge part of our game. He’s good at it and he’s really capable of it. That’s when we’re at our best protecting the passer, when our rhythm is so fast that the rushes and the complexity of things aren’t a factor. He’s really good at it so it’s going to be thrilling to watch what happens in the next three or four years. Get him to year eight or nine and see where he’s going to be.”
The Seahawks, meanwhile, may reconsider how they treat the backup QB spot after a year in which Wilson was injured for the first time.
Boykin had some decent moments. But after four years of never needing a backup, Seattle was suddenly struck smack in the face with the prospect of having to play an undrafted rookie free agent.
Asked Monday if that might cause Seattle to re-think its backup spot, Carroll said it could.
“We’ll continue to look because the reality was right there,’’ Carroll said. “You’re down to your backup guy with nobody else on the roster. … You get used to being in a two-quarterback system. For years that wasn’t the way you go — it was three guys. It helps you on the roster and all of that. But we’ll always look at that again, we’re always looking for quarterbacks in every draft, in every offseason. That’s just something we’ve always consistently tried to do.”
Expect the Seahawks to add at least one QB in the off-season, if not two, to compete with Boykin, if not also possibly become a third QB.
NEXT UP: Running back.