Russell Wilson was benched on Sunday against the New York Jets. And that was a good thing.
Wilson’s four-touchdown performance helped lead Seattle to a 37-3 by the 3rd quarter, and Geno Smith got to play against his old team for the remainder of the afternoon. Smith went 4/5 for 33 yards and led Seattle to three more points in garbage time.
Lemme just say that it’s about damn time this happened.
From 2017-2019, not one of Russell Wilson’s backups even threw a pass. Austin Davis had one snap against the Arizona Cardinals when Wilson was looked at for a concussion, then ran the clock out in the catastrophic loss to the Los Angeles Rams. Brett Hundley played zero snaps in 2018. Geno Smith played zero snaps in 2019. Any passes thrown by people not named Wilson were gadget plays.
This is the product of the Seahawks constantly playing in games that are usually close enough to justify not pulling Russell Wilson and letting the backup take the offense for a spin. As you all know, Seattle won only one game by double digits in 2019 and while they beat the Raiders 27-3 and 49ers 43-16 in the 2018 season, Wilson played the whole game on both occasions.
Sunday’s beatdown of the Jets was a throwback to when the Seahawks actually did blow teams out from 2012-2015. My totally baseless theory about Seattle’s increased injury problems in recent seasons is that the insane number of close games they’ve played has resulted in starters playing much higher snap counts than your average team, thus heightening the risk of injury. I’ll explore this another time and then abandon it once I realize the evidence doesn’t confirm my priors.
Anyway, you have to go back to the team’s 25-23 win over the San Francisco 49ers on the final day of 2016 for the last time any Seahawks backup got to play multiple series. Pete Carroll pulled Russell Wilson up 25-16 with knowledge that the New Orleans Saints were unlikely to beat the Atlanta Falcons and thus Seattle wouldn’t get a first-round bye. Well the 49ers closed the deficit, the Saints made a furious rally, but no harm done. As far as an actual garbage time win, the 40-7 thumping of the Carolina Panthers saw Boykin play Seattle’s final series in the 4th quarter after Wilson led a touchdown drive on the previous possession. You may remember Boykin also had a lot of garbage time in the first 49ers matchup in 2016 but that was also partly due to Russell’s sprained knee when it was already 30-3.
When is the last time a healthy Wilson got yanked in the 3rd quarter? You have to go way back to 2013 when the Seahawks pasted the Jaguars and decided to put in the late Tarvaris Jackson while it was 31-7 late in the 3rd quarter. Jackson threw and ran for a touchdown and Seattle won 45-17.
For the sake of our sanity, at least we know the Seahawks are capable of crushing a bad team again. And it’s good to see some key players get a breather as they prepare for the home stretch of the regular season.