Pride is in the air.
That’s the word that comes to mind when I hear about Russell Wilson’s discontent in Seattle. That’s the word that comes to mind when I read reports that the front office is taking and making calls about a possible trade. That’s the word that seems to be hanging over this increasingly tense offseason debacle.
Pride. And everyone needs to remove it from the equation.
Pragmatism, not emotion, is what should decide Wilson’s future in Seattle. The prospect of success, not ego, is what should dictate the next few years.
Unfortunately, the latter is ubiquitous in professional sports, where proving doubters wrong is often the ultimate motivation. So what will win the day in this situation?
It’s easy to see why pride would be affecting Wilson’s outlook. It has been six seasons since the man last reached the NFC Championship Game. And for the first three years of his career, during which the Seahawks reached two Super Bowls and won one, Seattle was considered to be a run-first defensive juggernaut.
Folks around here knew how valuable Wilson was in the read-option offense, but since the Seahawks unofficially became his team, the postseason success just hasn’t been there. That will eat at a man’s pride.
Plus, it doesn’t seem as though the team’s offensive vision meshes with his. Coach Pete Carroll was transparent about this in his final news conference of last season. After Wilson went 11 for 27 in a first-round playoff exit to the Rams, Carroll said that “we have to run the ball more” going forward. Add this to Wilson’s frustration in not having more say in the offense — something that reportedly prompted him to storm out of a meeting midseason — and you could see why feelings would be frayed.
Of course, it’s easy to see why pride might be affecting Carroll and general manager John Schneider’s outlook as well. First, Wilson openly blasted his lack of pass protection over the years. Not only was this an affront to the offensive linemen he might share a locker room with next year, but it was a shot at Carroll and Schneider’s drafting ability.
It wasn’t completely unwarranted. Despite the Seahawks drafting a lineman every year since 2013 — including first-round pick Germain Ifedi and second-round pick Ethan Pocic, Seattle has consistently ranked near the bottom of Pro Football Focus’ OL rankings. But for Wilson to say it so explicitly had to have irked the head coach and GM.
Plus, there is probably a part of Carroll that thinks “our QB wants out? OK, let’s show that we can win without him.” It’s not as though he has simply inherited consensus blue-chip talent over the years. From Richard Sherman to Kam Chancellor to K.J. Wright to Michael Bennett, Carroll has consistently transformed third-day draftees or undrafted free agents into stars on his defense. Schneider has managed to do something few in the NFL can — consistently send a team to the playoffs despite making the quarterback rich.
The idea of building something again with a new quarterback is likely intriguing — particularly when that quarterback has openly vented his unhappiness.
But such a thought should be resisted. Just as Wilson should resist his desire to play elsewhere.
From his standpoint, he has a phenom in receiver DK Metcalf, who could wind up in the Hall of Fame if he stays focused. In just his second year, Metcalf broke Steve Largent’s Seahawks single-season receiving yards record, and his chemistry with Wilson is palpable.
Wilson also watched a tenuous defense blossom into force in the second half of last season, and given the Seahawks’ consistency (eight 10-win seasons in Wilson’s nine years) moving elsewhere seems risky.
As for Carroll and Schneider, they need to resist pride’s whisperings as well. Wilson may not have won an MVP in Seattle, but over the past six years, his name always seems to come up in the award’s discussion. This is a quarterback’s league, and finding anyone as gifted as Russell seems far-fetched. If the Seahawks want to get back to the Super Bowl in the next few years, having No. 3 is a must.
Athletes, coaches and executives, it seems, regularly take advice from those involved in other sports. Perhaps right now this Seahawks trio should look to the poker world.
Yes, emotions run high in that game, too. But the key to success there is to leave emotion out of it.