clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Let Russ Cook Tracker Week 4: What if he burned the rice?

He’s not, though

Syndication: Palm Beach Post
they agreed to pineapple!
Allen Eyestone via Imagn Content Services, LLC

What would it look like if Russ cooked too much?

As easy as it might be to blurt out, “2017” is not the answer. Not the full one, at least. It’s actually a good example of the things we longtime proponents of LRC rail against.

In that weird — they’re all weird — season, the Seattle Seahawks:

  • Signed running backs who couldn’t run. Don’t make me name them.
  • Signed a kicker who couldn’t kick. Him either.
  • Employed an offensive line that couldn’t block. They’re all gone too. Complete turnover since
  • Allowed Wilson to throw a career-high 553 times. (Strangely, the quarterback is still here, and thriving. Extra! Extra! Read all about it!) So much more than both previous and both subsequent years. The Seahawks offense passed the ball 146 more times than they ran it in 2017, after years of being known as run-heavy.

But only because they had to. All the listed drawbacks were related to over-passing out of necessity, not out of choice. Without a decent running attack or special teams you could count on, and with the cursed turf in Glendale gobbling up half the LOB for good at midseason, the responsibility for... everything fell to Russell Carrington Wilson. He was up to the task most Sundays, but forcing him to cook isn’t the same as letting him.

He cooked too much, for the situation and the personnel. As the offense became predictable and one-dimensional, Wilson posted career worsts in interceptions (11), yards/attempt (7.2), ANY/A (a pedestrian 6.45) and game-winning drives (2). Not hard to understand why in 2018, Seattle reversed course and ran 55 percent of the time, enough to lead the league in rushing with 2,560 yards.

So it’s easy to imagine what less cooking translates to. We just watched it two years ago, and it felt like the inevitable future. Control the game with a ground attack and equip Wilson with a sniper rifle so he can take his surgical shots. Which is what makes this year such a pleasant surprise!

To the trackers, which I’ve split into four this week. Seattle finishes the first quarter of the season having seriously mitigated a problem that held back the offense in 2019.

Second and 9-plus

LRC metric 2019 result 2020 goal 2020 to date Grade
LRC metric 2019 result 2020 goal 2020 to date Grade
Second and long runs 61/166, 37% Under 25% 7/27, 26% B+

Less cooking would mean less passing on neutral downs. Suddenly, and it has been sudden, the Seahawks are among the league leaders in choosing pass over run in neutral game state. Go back and tell your 2018 self that, and be sure to time the visit for the day after Seattle’s playoff loss to the Dallas Cowboys, when it was evident that Pete Carroll, that known hater of all things Seahawk, would never permit his quarterback to be truly great.

Run-pass choices

LRC metric 2019 result 2020 goal 2020 to date Grade
LRC metric 2019 result 2020 goal 2020 to date Grade
Neutral downs passing 51-49 55-45 63-37 A

Only the Kansas City Chiefs pass more frequently on first and second down with win probability between 15 and 85 percent.

The Seahawks are running Andy Reid’s offense with a quarterback just as good as, or better than, Patrick Mahomes.

This paragraph is filler and contains no new information. Its purpose is to stop you in your tracks and make you re-read the previous paragraph. Twice is good. Thrice is better. And in case you didn’t go back, let it be reprinted.

The Seahawks are running Andy Reid’s offense with a quarterback just as good as, or better than, Patrick Mahomes.

— — —

Getting spooked by a few bad fourth down outcomes in a row might cause Jason Myers to join Wilson in the kitchen more and more frequently as an associate chef. So far, though, nope, you’re spectating, Jason. You too, Dicko.

Trusting Russ

LRC metric 2019 result 2020 goal 2020 to date Grade
LRC metric 2019 result 2020 goal 2020 to date Grade
4th & short aggressiveness 6/25, 24% Exceed 24% 3/6, 50% A

Here’s where I want to spend a little time. Famously, Carroll’s fourth down gambles have swung conference title games. He didn’t kick a field goal down four late against the San Francisco 49ers and he didn’t get his first points on the scoreboard in a conventional way against the Green Bay Packers.

Any excuse to post those, you know?

The attempt to pigeonhole Carroll into one specific, immutable fourth-down philosophy that spans his Seahawks tenure is bound to meet a futile end. The one thing we can say, for now, so far, knock on wood, is that 2020 represents a step forward in aggressiveness on fourth and short. Which worked out for the Seahawks in Weeks 1 and 3, then didn’t in Week 4. If you converted every fourth down, it wouldn’t be much of a gamble, now would it?

The 3/6 in the tracker isn’t success on fourth down. It’s how many times Carroll has decided to give Wilson the ball on fourth down and short past midfield. Six times he’s had a decision to make. Three times he’s gone with RW. Twice it’s worked. Good results thus far.

(Tangentially, it’s a weird coincidence that just as Seattle’s special teams are returning to the top of the league, Carroll is relying on them less. Although the way the Seahawks play football, it’s inevitable that either a kick or kick coverage will decide a game, sooner rather than later.)

Let’s update the rushing tracker, even though it was the most boring of weeks for Wilson’s legs. His only scamper was a scramble out of necessity for eight yards. So no change from last week.

Using RW’s legs too

LRC metric 2019 result 2020 goal 2020 to date Grade
LRC metric 2019 result 2020 goal 2020 to date Grade
Designed RW runs 11-31-0 Early usage, before Q4 3-48-0 A-

There’s room for growth. Though this category is surely the least important of all.

A closing question: what would be a clue to you, the faithlessful Field Gulls reader, that Russ is spending too much time in the kitchen? What does it look like when he overcooks the roast, burns the rice, and soggies the green beans? And what would be a clue that his utensils are being taken away, his spices tossed in the trash, his stove hauled off by Pete’s Appliance Repossessing Crew?