As the NFL offseason moves forward, fans of every team are still reveling in the optimism of what the future may hold following an offseason of changes in free agency and the draft. For the Seattle Seahawks, the offseason has brought about a new look offensive line and an upgraded secondary, while questions remain about the defensive line group. The line appears likely to have lost both Quinton Jefferson and Jadeveon Clowney, while adding Alton Robinson and Darrell Taylor through the draft, but through all the turnover the constant for the Hawks is Russell Wilson at quarterback.
Wilson, of course, is now a seven time Pro Bowl quarterback who has always had the ability to beat defenses through the air, but whose focus on improvement in specific areas in recent seasons has elevated the production and performance delivered on the field. With the Seahawks rumored to be one of the potential destinations for free agent Cam Newton, there has been significant discussion around whether that would be good for the team or welcome to fans. Having some fun with a hypothetical, I posted the following on Twitter Wednesday.
If the Arizona Cardinals sign Cam Newton, the Seahawks would be the only team in the NFC West that doesn't have a QB who has started a Super Bowl in the past five years.— John P. Gilbert (@JohnPGilbertNFL) May 13, 2020
This, of course, was little more than poking the bear at the fact that the Seahawks have not been to the Super Bowl recently, in spite of having the best quarterback in the NFC West, and when the bear is poked, the bear reacts accordingly.
If the Arizona Cardinals sign Cam Newton, the Seahawks would be the only team in the NFC West that has a QB who's won a Super Bowl in the last ten years.— Grizwald (@grizwald87) May 13, 2020
In any case, the projected starting quarterbacks for the four teams in the West for 2020 are the same as they were in 2019:
- Seattle: Wilson
- Los Angeles Rams: Jared Goff
- San Francisco 49ers: Jimmy Garoppolo
- Arizona Cardinals: Kyler Murray
Seattle fans are, of course, adamant (and correct) that they have the best starting quarterback in the division. During his eight seasons in the NFL Wilson has won 86 regular season games, while Goff, Murray and Garoppolo have combined for 63 wins as starting quarterbacks in the NFL. Those combined numbers include the postseason for Goff and Garoppolo, though they obviously don’t include the Super Bowl in which Goff led the Rams to an NFL record 3 points against the New England Patriots.
Rounding back to the topic at hand, however, the question then becomes not why is Russell Wilson the best quarterback in the NFC West, it become why is it that the best quarterback in the NFC West doesn’t have a winning record against any of the other three starting quarterbacks in the division?
Wilson is older, more experienced and has the benefit of playing for the only Super Bowl winning coach in the division, so why is it that Russell is at or below .500 when facing the other three starters in the division?
- Wilson versus Murray: 1-1 (.500)
- Wilson versus Garoppolo: 1-1 (.500)
- Wilson versus Goff: 3-4 (.429)
Perhaps particularly scary is that if not for a couple of late game failures by the Rams, Wilson’s record against Goff could easily be 2-5 or 1-6.
With the NFL schedule pitting division opponents against each other twice each season, the fact that Seattle struggles when facing an opponent a second time within the same season certainly could put some pressure on Wilson’s ability to improve his record against the other starters. As a refresher, here’s how the Seahawks have fared the second time they have played an opponent since the coaching staff was overhauled following the 2017 season:
- Week 10 2018: 31-36 Loss to the Los Angeles Rams
- Week 15 2018: 23-26 Loss to the San Francisco 49ers
- Week 17 2018: 27-24 Win over the Arizona Cardinals
- Week 18 2018: 22-24 Loss to the Dallas Cowboys
- Week 14 2019: 12-28 Loss to the Los Angeles Rams
- Week 16 2019: 13-27 Loss to the Arizona Cardinals
- Week 17 2019: 21-26 Loss to the San Francisco 49ers
- Week 18 2019: 17-9 Win over the Philadelphia Eagles
So, what is it about an NFL team with the best quarterback in the division and one of the best quarterbacks in the entire NFL that leads that team to a 2-6 record in rematch games over the past two years? What is it about an NFL team with the best quarterback in the division that that quarterback has a record that comes in under .500 against the other starters in the division?