The Seattle Seahawks returned to being an elite rushing offense in 2018, and Pete Carroll’s run-first approach that was prevalent from 2012-2014 made its return this season. Russell Wilson is a worlds better quarterback in 2018 than he was from 2012-2014, and now it’s universally recognized that he is elite at his position.
So when Brian Schottenheimer and Pete Carroll refuse to deviate from an unsuccessful run-heavy gameplan as they did in Seattle’s 24-22 playoff loss against the Dallas Cowboys, national observers take notice. Wilson’s contract is up after 2019, and The Ringer’s Robert Mays not-so-jokingly brought up the idea of the Seahawks moving on from Wilson because of the way the offense is structured.
If the Seahawks truly do want to play like they did last night, they should just get it over with and trade Russell Wilson to the Giants for three first-round picks. Because no QB is worth $30 million in that offense.— Robert Mays (@robertmays) January 6, 2019
Wilson only had 27 pass attempts against the Cowboys, but had a higher EPA than Dak Prescott and was far more effective than the bogged down Seahawks rushing attack. And yet, Seattle didn’t have more passes than runs until the final drive of the game (and indeed the season). Six of Seattle’s 13 third-down situations saw them run the ball on the previous two downs. In other words, run-run-pass when run-run-pass wasn’t working.
It’s not like the Seahawks are incapable of “unleashing Russ” when the run game is ineffective, and this is a topic that predates Schotty and includes more than a few Darrell Bevell era games. Focusing on this season, they beat the Carolina Panthers despite just 75 yards on the ground, but Schottenheimer adjusted and Wilson tore up Carolina’s secondary. But we’ve also seen them running the ball down two scores in four-minute offenses against the Los Angeles Chargers and Los Angeles Rams. More often than not, “Peteball” wins out over cutting Wilson loose. Perhaps they fear a higher volume passing attack or passing more on early downs is too risky because an early-down sack can kill a drive in ways that consecutive runs tend not to, but you don’t need to be a mathematician to figure out that passing is way more valuable than running.
I don’t think Seattle is going to part ways with Wilson. There’s also been no indication that Wilson is that frustrated with the system. He has been sensational and is one of the most greatest athletes in the city’s entire history. But high-profile games like the Cowboys loss will undoubtedly stir up discussion over whether it makes financial sense to tie up that much money to a quarterback on an offense that seemingly values running backs above all else.
One thing I do know is that Carroll is not going to abandon what he believes in, for better or worse. It’s brought the team multiple top-10 offenses and a sustained stretch of success that we’ve not seen in any other era of Seahawks football. But is Pete’s philosophy still the best one for Russell Wilson’s prime years? I have my doubts.