They’ve mainly resulted in victories, so the scrutiny has been subdued. Strong finishes, a stingy defense and franchise records have dominated the headlines, so these performances have gotten a pass.
But the truth is — aside from an efficient performance against the then-winless Jets — Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has been mediocre over the past five weeks. And once the playoffs start, being just OK is not all right.
Here’s a rundown of Wilson’s past five games:
- Week 13 vs. Giants: 27 of 43 passing for 263 yards (6.1 yards per attempt), one touchdown, one interception and a passer rating of 78.0.
- Week 14 vs. Jets: 21 of 27 passing for 206 yards (7.6 ypa) four touchdowns, one interception and a passer rating of 122.6.
- Week 15 vs. Washington Football Team: 18 of 27 passing for 121 yards (4.5 ypa) one touchdown, one interception and a passer rating of 73.2.
- Week 16 vs. Rams: 20 of 32 passing for 225 yards (7 ypa) one touchdown, no interceptions and a passer rating of 93.9.
- Week 17 vs. 49ers: 20 of 36 passing for 181 yards (5 ypa), two touchdowns, no interceptions and a passer rating of 87.8.
Those aren’t standout numbers. They’re a bit shy of being even solid numbers. If the Seahawks defense didn’t emerge as one of the NFL’s best units over the final month and a half, this team may have found itself out of a playoff spot.
The one positive is that there were just three picks thrown over those five games, and we all know how much coach Pete Carroll values taking care of the ball. Still, five yards per throw vs. San Francisco? Four and a half yards per throw vs. Washington?
On Thursday I asked Carroll whether he was pleased with Wilson’s game management over the past few weeks or if he wanted to see more.
“We always want more. We always want to do better and do more. There’s no question. We have played some games kind of the way we wanted to play them, and that wasn’t to just try and stretch the field with the throwing game. We want to win the game. We want to take care of the football and make sure that we’re in control of the rhythm of the game as a team, and I felt like we got that done,” Carroll said. “But we would like to get our explosive plays back up. That’s been a little bit different for us. We’ve got to look for our opportunities, but we don’t want to force those. We want to take them as they come to us and make sure we’re executing really well.”
Wilson has built a reputation as one of, if not the best deep-ball threats in football. But those passes of 20 yards or more have been sorely lacking lately. Dinks here, dunks there — followed by bombs that rarely hit the mark.
The good news for the Seahawks is that Wilson hasn’t lost his late-game magic. In Sunday’s 26-23 win over the 49ers he led three consecutive touchdown drives in the fourth quarter. Is there more he could have done earlier? Absolutely. But Russell isn’t going to second-guess himself if his team outscores his opponent.
“To be able to win in all different fashions is really key. Obviously we want to start great, and we know how we can do that as well. But you also gotta be able to win the games close, because that’s what playoff football is like,” Wilson said. “The playoffs aren’t always high-scoring. Sometimes they are, sometimes they’re not. It’s, ‘Go win the game.’ That’s what really matters.”
No doubt that Wilson knows how to win playoff games. He is 9-6 in his postseason career, has made two trips to the Super Bowl and won a Lombardi Trophy.
No doubt he has weapons on his side of the ball, too. DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett are the best wide-receiver duo in the league, and running back Chris Carson has been productive when healthy.
But it’s been a minute since Wilson has been his dominant self. That MVP front-runner we saw at the beginning of the season is almost unrecognizable.
Yes, winning beats stuffing the stat sheet every time. But if his stats don’t get better, winning will be hard to come by.