Russell Wilson Is Missing: The World Of Sports Commentary

Written by: Joshua Kasparek

Russell Wilson is missing. It’s not at all odd that in the commentary world Russell Wilson’s responsibility in the offense isn’t discussed. Conceding that you don’t know all the key details, this hard for some sports writers. They live on easy narrative construction. This makes volume work easier because you can make big uncomplicated points to a wide audience.

Such limited depth allows you to look like you know what you’re talking about. Add in some math and a few fancy charts and you’re probably untouchable.

A Battle Against Narrative

This was one of the biggest reasons I wrote “This Week In Defense.” back in 2013-2014, so I could escape narrative driven noise. I wanted focus on factual result versus intent. The entire Schottenheimer “is bad” camp is built on the silent idea that Russell Wilson has no control over the game, nor is he allowed to audible a play within this offense.

This idea remains unspoken. Omitting this note is key to building the narrative that Pete and Brian are solely responsible for this result. Once you do this, the narrative is perfectly positioned to sell. It’s easier to sell to the masses because it’s harder to be sure when Russell checks into a new play at the line.

We know Russell has already done this, his most famous check is “Check 50”. This led Seattle to the game winning Touchdown in the NFC Championship over Green Bay. I know this year specifically Wilson reads the box when calling read option plays. Those are plays where he flips the back to the right or left. Russell is doing that job himself. He’s responsible for making sure those plays are matched up properly.

Where is the admission that we can’t draw a complete picture of this offense without considering Wilson’s involvement? It’s been oddly absent, it needs to be considered or it’s absence noted clearly. Until it is, your argument cannot be seen as anything more than sloppy. At the very least, it should be seen as incomplete. In short, Russell Wilson is missing.

  1. Very good point Joshua. There was some mention of this by Pete in his “end of year” interview–that Russ has mastered the whole thing (is what I think I heard Pete say).

    I got banned at FG by calling an article that posited Russ might be jettisoned or leave for greener pastures as “click bait”. That is exactly what it was… Russ is not going anywhere–he is a perfect QB for Carroll in terms of attitude and work ethic, and the organization’s willingness to take risks to win (and its strength in developing players through the draft) make Seattle an attractive home for Wilson also.

    Not to mention that Wilson has had a lot of success in Seattle–would he have been given a realistic shot to start as a rookie 3rd round pick anywhere else? His development has been marvellous to watch. Even though he still makes cringe-worthy plays (oh, the sacks) his efficiency numbers this year were his best ever–a sign he is still getting better.

    1. Just yesterday I got a huge warning over there for calling an article click bait as well.
      Seems if they particularly dislike that criticism they should post less click bait and more substance.

      1. … and that is why I am going to support with $ the great stuff I like to read (and avoid FGs from now on). I have looked for a “Patron” link here on the Hawkblogger site but haven’t found it.

        There is a saying “if something is “free” YOU are the product.” That is what is happening all over the internet. If you want quality, you have to pay for it.

  2. Yet we don’t know the criteria Wilson is given for checking. We don’t know the game plan, match up profiles, or direct instructions. Only the coaches can know that.

    A fair number of commenters jumped Wilson for the play calling, noting the checks. There are two immediate problems with this. First, is Wilson indicated he would have liked to pass more in the Dallas game. Second, on at least one “mistake” where the Cowboys loaded the box neither Baldwin or Lockett were on the field. A simpleton calls that a “Mistake” on Wilson but his logic seems sound: They were in a run heavy player group where his Number 3 and 4 receives have not done well. A run for no gain is better than a sack or, worse, turnover. Burning a timeout was probably not a great idea and the players on the field would have made an audible to a pass friendly formation less than ideal.

    Statistics are very valuable, but they only go so far. e.g. Last year Seattle had an abysmal run game which looked better than it was due to Wilson and those sneaky QB rushes and scrambles.

    Another, “Lies, damn lies, and statistics” is game 1 and 2 of the 2018 season where much was made of Seattle’s inability to pass and the need to run more. I would agree with the need to run more but the anti-passing hangover hurt the season. It was clear at the time Seattle had a fair number of new coaches on offense, major offensive line changes where both Fluker and Sweezy missed a lot of pre-season plus Fluker was out injured (and Pocic in which in retrospect we know how bad that is), Ifedi faced Miller and Mack and Seattle had no figured out using Fant as the extra TE, Baldwin missed most of those games, Marshall had key drops, Ed Dickson was on the PUP, Pete trying to get Penny reps after he missed most of the pre-season, etc. As it turned out Denver and Chicago were 2 of the Top 5 teams by passing DVOA this year. I don’t believe Seattle has given Wilson the players, coaches, and scheme to be the best volume passer he could be but a lot of unnecessary conclusions about the 2018 squad were drawn from those game. And in Dallas we saw the same abysmal offense and Carson managed only 20 yards on 13 carries. The lack of adaptability and forcing many 3rd and longs need to be taken into account. Similar issue I take with Brian’s article above Wilson not being a fit for volume passing.

    There is a lot of anti-Wilson narrative out there and the sort of “just thinking out loud” ignorance that wants to trade Wilson for picks or go big on lower round QBs. All the while ignoring only 5 QBs have had successful playoff tested careers over the past 20 years. And the miss rate on 1st round picks is insane, to which Pete and John have developed no trust they could actual convert first rounders into wins. The NFL equation is the QB is the most important position and average QB play even when surrounded by excellent role players is not a sustained model of regular playoff success. The problem is the “argument” is often being made without actually creating an argument based on solidly researched facts but instead it is a proposition.

    Right now Seattle, Wilson or not, is not going very far with this defense. Not to pick on Brian but I see HawkBlogger rated their performance as nearly 4 stars but the defense gave up 24 points to a team averaging just over 21 points a game (their scoring didn’t go up more than 1 point after Cooper played the last 9 games). But it is more than the points but how and when they gave them up. Seattle was up 14-10 in the 4th quarter and the defense was gashed. In the 4th quarter the defense allowed TD drives of 67 yards and 63 yard. In the latter they allowed 3 key third down conversions of 3&8, 3&4, and 3&14. They also could not get Dallas off the field and gave allowed Dallas to hold the ball for 10:08 in the 4th. Narratives abound but this team has a lot of trouble spots, some of which are self inflicted. Until Seattle starts winning again (and making the playoffs with a team many national outlets predicted would win 4 to 6 games isn’t enough for this town) there will be a lot of blame and solutions. Winning cures all.

    1. That last Dallas drive though… three times the D had Dallas at third and long, and three times Dallas was saved by a penalty on a failed third-down play that kept the drive alive. The call on KJ (which I think should have been holding not PI) was the only one not ticky-tack.

      It seems to me Dallas got every break in the game to go their way–and that happens sometimes. Football. And great teams overcome those situations and find a way to win.

      This Seahawks team is not “great”, yet. But I really like the potential. Wilson did show a lot of progress this season in avoiding negative plays and turnovers (I am thinking about the rate at which each occurred this year vs past years).

      Another year working closely with Schotty is going to pay big dividends next season.

    2. IMHO, this year defense overachieved with the talents available. KN did a decent job in “masking’ a lot of weaknesses, especially at the third level. Even when the defense was dominant back in the days, they had their issues as well (2nd in the league in blowing leads in the 4th quarter between 2012-2106 behind the Bucs I believe, 16 or 17 games- that is a whole season) I truly be Seattle will not win another SB as long as PC remains as a head coach. He is a good coach and does a lot for the city, but not a great coach. I have seen this familiar pattern from the USC days. Going forward, this team will probably win 9-10 games and make the playoffs, but will get bounced in the 1st or 2nd round as long as the Rams are still “growing”. To me that is such as waste on a future first ballot HOF qb and his talents. If I am RW, I would like to take my service to other places like MN or Denver where I still have a good chance in getting another ring.

  3. Pete has taken full responsibility and I take him at his word. I don’t blame Schottenheimer or Wilson at all. This is Pete’s deal. Wilson is allowed to change the play as long as it fits within the confines of what Pete wants to do.

    Wilson is probably required to check into specific plays depending on the looks he gets, by Brian as Pete’s proxy. The ‘Check 50’, as I recall, was something that was explicitly designed. ‘You get this look, you check into this play.’ Wilson, presumably, does not have the authority to do whatever he thinks best. He is beholden to Pete’s offensive philosophy.

    So, you are right, Wilson is missing, because it isn’t Russell Wilson’s offense.

    Pete is the guy. The offense operates how he wants it to operate. If it doesn’t, then he isn’t doing his job very well.

  4. I think I read somewhere that Wilson is allowed 3 audibles on any given down: 2 runs and a pass play. So, even our check outs are run-run-pass.

    In any case, I’m seeing like reason for this article to exist. The notion that Wilson is, in any kind of way, responsible for playcalling is ridiculous.

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