Yesterday, I wrote about the chance for Russell Wilson to grow in 2016 as a leader by taking more bullets for his offensive line, knowing how young they will be. There was a strong reaction to the article, largely negative, led by Wilson’s self-proclaimed #1 fan on Twitter. Sam provided some strong evidence that Wilson was already in the habit of taking bullets for his offensive line that I wanted to share here.

 

Where I was wrong

Sam did a great job of putting together moments where Wilson has taken bullets for his linemen. I also went back and watched a few additional press conferences myself and found additional moments where Wilson took the blame for things that went wrong. My article yesterday included a passage where I wondered aloud whether Wilson was doing that last year:

“When the bullets were flying last season, and Wilson was getting sacked what seemed like every other drop back, I do not recall hearing him come out and take responsibility for it in the media. That may be a bit of selective memory, but I listen pretty closely to all those press conferences. If he was saying it, the message was muted.” – passage from yesterday’s article

Sam provided clear evidence that my memory had some sizable gaps. That kinda sucks. I don’t like being wrong or getting old and losing my memory, but both may true in this instance. I have gone back and added a link to this article so folks can get the complete story.

Where I stand pat

The premise of the article was that Matt Hasselbeck had offered an insight into what it take to become the face of the franchise inside and outside the locker room. He used the word humility to describe Wilson’s greatest chance to grow. That is a strong word and the knee-jerk reaction is that saying someone can become more humble is that the implication is they are not humble to begin with, or worse, are selfish and arrogant.

That is not the case here. My interpretation of Hasselbeck’s comments were that Wilson has already proven his talent on the field, but that to truly replace the presence of a player like Marshawn Lynch in the locker room, he would need to become even more selfless off the field.

That hardly seems to be a damning statement. I can see with the passage referenced above that it got lost.

The guys in that locker room looked up to Lynch more than Wilson, more than Earl Thomas, more than Doug Baldwin, more than Bobby Wagner. He earned that respect with tenacity on the field and by being totally real off the field.

Wilson has been as tough as any quarterback on the field since entering the league, taking countless hits and popping back up. Nobody wants to see him taking on tacklers the way Lynch did.

Being “real” the way Lynch was “real,” does not seem like a great match for Wilson’s personality. He is earnest. He is respectful. He also can be a bit cliche or scripted. Even in those clips Sam provided above, it is hard to discern what he really believes from what he is saying because he thinks he is supposed to say it.

This is not just a Wilson thing. Kris Richard is much the same way.

The point I think Hasselbeck was trying to make is that Wilson’s greatest chance to grow will be in how completely and convincingly he takes responsibility for the performance of the team on and off the field. When you have a player who is already putting up MVP-like numbers and has off-the-charts poise, work ethic and durability, it hardly seems damning to say this is his greatest opportunity for growth.

Imagine an article about Johnny Manziel, Robert Griffith III, or Colin Kaepernick’s greatest area for growth. The problems there are far more fundamental.

Taking the leadership mantle on a team with alpha dogs like Richard Sherman, Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Michael Bennett, Baldwin and others is no easy task. A person with Wilson’s more matter-of-fact demeanor won’t get there by trying to be something he is not. The path Hasselbeck was putting forth seems far more natural. Be the guy who shields the team from media criticism and the guy who demands excellence of himself so he can do the same of his teammates. He is already walking that path. For him to take his next step as a star among stars and leader among leaders, that seems like a good place to focus and grow.

6 Responses

  1. Willy

    Just curious, but what makes Marshawn’s earnestness more “real” than, say, Cam Newton’s? For the record, I think Cam is a great football player, and maybe one of the class acts on the field, but the reaction to his “realness” on the field is a lot more negative than the reaction to Marshawn’s. Why is that, and is there a danger in Russ going one way or the other?

  2. Jason

    I think what made Hasselbeck’s humility ring more true was the level of authenticity he had when addressing the media (or any other time). Matt was always Matt, and he took great care to say the right things, but I mostly felt like he was speaking candidly. Holmgren was very similar.

    I think Russell’s polish in his public persona lowers his perceived level of authenticity and while people can see & hear him saying all the right things it may not ring as true as Marshawn Lynch for example.

    Lynch was definitely not as polished but incredibly authentic (in my opinion). His teammates (and fans) always knew he was speaking from the heart and being himself – even when the national media disagreed.

    Perhaps the challenge for Wilson is to create a bit more authenticity to go along with his sterling public persona.

  3. SMH

    Probably the most cringe worthy article(s) I’ve read to date..

  4. carrie

    I sincerely doubt that alpha dogs (as you called them) Earl, Kam, Richard. Bobby are waiting around to be excellent at what they have worked hard at their whole lives based on whether or not they like Russell Wilson’s personality.
    Here’s what I think…I think YOU don’t like Wilson’s personality so you want to make that be the object of your criticism of him. That’s why you lied about Russell behavior around the O-lines performance last season and it’s also why you got caught lying and now you’re not only implying that Russ wasn’t being truthful/”real” about taking the blame for all the sacks he took last season you’re claiming that he needs his teammates to like him off the field to respect him on it. When the stack of wins he’s already gotten in his NFL career so far demonstrates that he actually doesn’t need them to “like” him in order to win……
    This is assuming that they don’t like him but of course you would assume that because you don’t like Russell Wilson. Which is what started all of this in the first place. I bet there’s no amount of wins that could make you like Russell but that ‘s not the point is it. The point is winning!

  5. Mark

    Well said. I love having Wilson as iur QB however some people seem to take his personality cult too far. They jump at any criticism of the guys like we just insulted there mother or something worse. People need to relax and realize that there is room for criticism of anybody. Bloggers included.

  6. kenny

    Maybe we could get Matt to come back for the minimum?

", source:"wp" });