The Seahawks need Wilson at his best, for the long haul. He simply is too precious of a commodity to subject to the risk that a bruising NFL game would present a player nursing a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee.
Warning: Blasphemy ahead.
What I’m about to propose goes against every football instinct, and every fan’s most fervent wish.
But I’m thinking Russell Wilson should sit Sunday.
Seahawks @ N.Y. Jets, 10 a.m., Ch. 13
Wilson has proven his toughness beyond anyone’s questioning. And he has shown his improvisational genius, both in his dazzling ability to create plays out of seeming disaster, and, in a new wrinkle Sunday, sneaking back onto the field under his coach’s nose.
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But the Seahawks need Wilson at his best, for the long haul. And that may well mean not giving him a chance to flaunt his recuperative powers or his imperviousness to pain — or, for that matter, his bench elusiveness — Sunday against the New York Jets in East Rutherford, N.J.
Oh, Wilson will beg and plead to play. That’s a given. He’ll probably will himself through the week of practice and declare that he’s ready to roll Sunday.
But if there’s any doubt about the health of his left knee, the Seahawks would be wise to ignore all that and give Wilson a seat. Preferably one with a restraint system that locks.
Wilson simply is too precious of a commodity to subject to the risk that a bruising NFL game would present a player nursing a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee. And still coming back from a sprained right ankle.
Put that combination together, with an offensive line that’s improving but remains a work in progress, and it makes a less-than-mobile Wilson too vulnerable to another play such as the one against Miami’s Ndamukong Suh in Week 1 and San Francisco’s Eli Harold in Week 3.
Sure, if this was near the end of the season and the Seahawks were facing a must-win game, it would be a different story. I have little doubt that Wilson could play Sunday. I’m just saying the prudent decision is he shouldn’t.
Not with 12 games remaining after Sunday. And especially not with the Seahawks’ bye coming, fortuitously, the next week. If you sit Wilson for the next game, he gets three solid weeks of game inactivity to rehab his knee, and three more weeks to get his already improving ankle back to normal, before returning Oct. 16 against the Falcons.
Coach Pete Carroll knows all this, of course, and will give it due consideration. He already has said so. The Seahawks aren’t going to play Wilson if they feel it would do long-term damage to his knee. And the prospect of giving Wilson a long, unencumbered stretch to heal is going to be enticing.
But it’s also going to be tempting to trust Wilson’s pain tolerance and believe he can gut his way through Sunday’s game at MetLife Stadium. Especially if he gets medical clearance and looks decent in practice.
No coach wants to turn over an important game — and trust me, in the NFL, they all are viewed that way — to a backup quarterback, and a raw one at that, over one of the league’s best, even if he’s less than full speed.
Carroll had an interesting choice of words Monday when asked about Wilson’s knee: “He looks very good, very upbeat and positive about feeling like he’s going to be fine.”
It goes without saying Wilson feels he’s going to be ready. It’s in his DNA. As he said Sunday about his insistence on returning to action after the hit, “Ultimately, I love the game. I love my teammates. If I’ve got any bit in me that I can do it, I’m going to do everything I can.’’
That’s admirable, but if Wilson ends up getting banged up worse Sunday, either because of reduced mobility or a knee that is vulnerable to another hit, it’s not going to help the team in the long run.
Even without Wilson, the Seahawks can beat a 1-2 Jets team that committed eight turnovers — including six interceptions by Ryan Fitzpatrick — in a 24-3 loss to the Chiefs on Sunday. The Seahawks can do it behind a defense that has been dominant this season (the final quarter against San Francisco in garbage time notwithstanding), and they can do it with No. 2 QB Trevone Boykin at the helm.
If not, well, that still seems like a decent risk, in exchange for a healthier and more robust Wilson down the stretch.
Now, I fully realize that the Seahawks are likely to go the other way on this one, and not out of recklessness. It’s part of the NFL culture — you play through injuries that aren’t debilitating, and if you don’t, you don’t last long. And you try to give your team the best chance to win every week, because each victory is precious.
Wilson clearly has a high pain tolerance, an obsessive work ethic and an indomitable desire to be on the field. As Carroll said Monday, “He’s going to try to push it as far as you can in order to do everything he can, at all times, forever. That’s just kind of how he is.”
And that’s exactly how you want your quarterback to be. But if, after a full week of practice, Wilson is still hobbling, it would seem wise, for long-term sake, to gently push him back, away from the field Sunday.