The Seahawks’ new season is dawning with an air of mystery surrounding it — more so than even the typical opener.
The normal rites of preparation have been turned on their ear, for reasons that don’t need to be delineated. They’ll enter Sunday’s game in Atlanta, like all teams in Week 1, with genuine uncertainty over how the drudgery of training camp will translate. There have been no dress rehearsals in the form of preseason games to give a hint.
True to form, the most important Seahawk, quarterback Russell Wilson, is fully embracing the chaos of 2020. Because, of course, he sees it not as chaos but opportunity.
“It’s a new way,” he said during a Zoom video call Thursday, describing the convoluted lead-up to the season. “And in the midst of it all, we have to adjust — and I think the great players can. The great teams are great at being consistent, but they have to be great at consistently adjusting as well.
“And I think that’s what we can do really well. I think that’s what we’ve always done. And that’s what we’re going to do right now, this year.”
Much of their ability to do so — at least on offense — rests on Wilson’s shoulders. And entering his ninth year, fully established as an elite quarterback, Wilson made the same general declaration he has made in one form or another at the outset of virtually every season.
“I feel like I’m just beginning,” he said. “My knowledge of the game, I’ve always worked at that. My timing, the footwork — I want to be able to do it all, to be honest with you. Coming into this offseason, I’ve done tons of studying and tons of film work of guys in the present and past, and of myself.
“Everything that I’ve tried to do is just continue to learn the game and try to find new ways to do new things. I always want to be known as one of the most clutch players ever to play this game. I also want to be known, I always tell you guys, as the greatest winner. But also I want to be known as one of the smartest guys on the field, too.”
There is a vocal contingent of Seahawks fans who believe the best way to maximize Wilson’s talents — to let him “do it all” — is to turn him loose earlier and more often. Let Russ cook, in the vernacular of the day.
Whether or not coach Pete Carroll and his play-caller, Brian Schottenheimer, are ready to go that route might be the biggest mystery of all. Wilson on Thursday extolled the virtues of his supporting cast on offense, virtually down to the last reserve. To sum up: He raved about the playmaking weapons at his disposal, and the way the offensive line has coalesced.
“We’re excited about playing ball, and obviously I think we can score a lot of points,” he said.
But perhaps his most encouraging words, for those into parsing Wilson’s comments, regarded his connection with Schottenheimer, entering his third season as Seattle’s offensive coordinator.
“I think more than anything else is we’ve built that rapport and built that relationship,” Wilson said. “We’ve played a lot of great football in the past two years, and this third year we’re looking for even more and doing more than ever. … I think more than anything else it’s up to us as players — setting the tone from game one on what we want to look like and how we want to play.”
Earlier in camp, Wilson made it clear that he would like the Seahawks to project a more urgent offense earlier in the game. He cited their 57-0 record when leading by four or more points at halftime since Wilson took over as starting quarterback in 2012.
We’ll soon get our first whiff of how that will translate to game-calling in 2020. But it’s readily apparent that Wilson and Schottenheimer have forged a working relationship that is filled with productive give-and-take, which bodes well for a little more Wilson cooking.
“We’re so comfortable with one another,” Schottenheimer said after Thursday’s practice. “It’s a process, right? It’s like being married or having a best friend, or a college roommate. You get to know them better the longer you’re around them.
“I think it’s going to help us in terms of the communication we’ll be able to have. He knows I trust him. I know he trusts me. We’re not always going to agree on things, but we can kind of read each other. We’re able to have quick communication on the sideline about what he’s seeing, or what I want. There’s no ego there.
“That’s the thing — we both want to win. There’s times I defer to him, there’s times he defers to me. I think that’s the sign of the relationship having grown. I don’t have to be right. If Russ sees something he likes, I have no problem with him believing it, and saying, ‘Here’s what I think,’ and we let him go with it. I’m really excited to see how it transpires this season, but the relationship has been terrific.”
Wilson said Thursday that he believes he’s reached only “50, 60 or 70 percent” of his full capacity as a quarterback.
“I feel like I’m just getting started. … That’s the fun part, that’s the part I get excited about. I’ve got a lot more years ahead of me, so it’s just staying consistent. (Linebacker) Bobby (Wagner) and I always talk about it: Don’t get bored with consistency. And play with an edge.”
Wilson recalled former Steelers coach Bill Cowher addressing Wilson’s North Carolina State team while he was in college and first putting that idea in his head. Cowher told them: “Go all the way to the edge, but don’t fall off the cliff.”
On Sunday we’ll get the first evidence of how well Wilson and the Seahawks can straddle that line.