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Geno Smith should start until Russell Wilson is actually healthy

Seattle Seahawks v Green Bay Packers Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

That was about more than “two bad throws.” That was ridiculous. I am all for “always compete,” but that wasn’t a competition. That was a slow, painful, systematic dismantling of an offense that was trying to operate with its most important member — the quarterback — recovering from serious surgery to his throwing hand. Except, this outcome should come as no surprise to any of us; here are Russell Wilson’s career stats for the duration of his career as signal xaller for the Seattle Seahawks and gamelog against the Green Bay Packers, including playoffs.

Russell Wilson vs Green Bay

Season Result Comp Att % Yards Y/A TD INT Sacks Rating
Season Result Comp Att % Yards Y/A TD INT Sacks Rating
2012 W 14-12 10 21 47.6% 130 6.2 2 0 1 99.3
2014 W 36-16 19 28 67.9% 191 6.8 2 0 1 110.9
2014 W 28-22* 14 29 48.3% 209 7.2 1 4 5 44.3
2015 L17-27 19 30 63.3% 206 6.9 2 1 2 91.8
2016 L 10-38 22 39 56.4% 240 6.2 1 5 3 43.7
2017 L 9-17 14 27 51.9% 158 5.9 0 0 3 69.7
2018 W 27-24 21 31 67.7% 225 7.3 2 0 3 110.3
2019 L 23-28* 21 31 67.7% 277 8.9 1 0 5 106.5
2021 L 0-17 20 40 50.0% 161 4.0 0 2 3 39.7
Total 4-5 160 276 58.0% 1797 6.5 11 12 26 72.69

I think it is pretty obvious that at this point, the Seahawks-Packers “rivalry” is as much of contest as the Seahawks-Rams “rivalry.” Matt LaFleur absolutely owns Pete Carroll, which is something that he undoubtedly learned under the tutelage of Sean McVay. So this makes the decision to keep Russell Wilson in this game literally until the last play so particularly maddening. I don’t care how much water he drinks, or how many times he wakes up in the middle of the night to do physical therapy, he is still a human and he can’t magically recover any faster than his body will ultimately allow. So when it became apparent that the game was out of hand — which I would argue, albeit in retrospect, was as soon as the Packers scored their first touchdown — the coaching staff should have exercised their better judgement and put Geno Smith in. And, quite frankly, maybe this decision should have been made even sooner. According to Michael-Shawn Dugar, the team recognized during pre-game that Russ wouldn’t be able to operate under center.

And considering all of this, I am even more disturbed by the fact that the team elected to go with a pass heavy approach in what was ultimately a low-scoring affair. Don’t look now, but the running game was averaging more yards per attempt than Russell Wilson and the passing game. And this again speaks to a failure of gameplanning; Green Bay has been solid against the pass in 2021 but vulnerable against the run, according to Football Outsiders.

I understand that Wilson looked good in practice this week, and I won’t pretend that I didn’t get excited about the hype. But this just feels like a failure of team leadership to look out for the best interests of the health and safety of their players — even when working with the most determined individuals like Russell Wilson, who I imagine was pushing harder than anybody to get back out there. Of course, maybe I am reading too much into Wilson’s struggles; perhaps he just had another vintage “Russ in Green Bay” kind of game. But this is something that the coaching staff should have been able to foresee, to some extent. And when it became obvious that this was the case — whether due to injury or just plain poor performance — the decision to keep him throwing the football until their final offensive play of the game was a glaring display of ineptitude.

Beyond the health and safety concerns, which are of course paramount, this team needs to put itself in the best position to win every single Week going forward, because their margin for error was already razor thin heading into this game. And judging by what we just saw, I would say that Geno Smith gives this squad a better opportunity to win right now than Russell Wilson does. And this could change. It will change, eventually, but after Sunday’s game, I am doubtful it will be soon enough to salvage this season. Good teams don’t play to avoid shutouts, and what we witnessed yesterday afternoon was the look of a franchise on life support trying to eek out the smallest of victories during the worst stretch of Seattle football in recent memory.