Fann Mail: Making sense of Russell Wilson’s recent slump for the Seahawks

Joe Fann
·6 min read

Fann Mail: Making sense of Russell Wilson’s recent slump for the Seahawks originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest

We’re less than two days away from a pivotal matchup between the Seahawks and Cardinals, two 6-3 teams, albeit trending in opposite directions. Seattle has lost three of its last four while Arizona has taken over first place of the NFC West due to its perfect record within the division.

If the Cardinals beat the Seahawks on Thursday, they’d be in prime position to reclaim the NFC West title, and Seattle would be seemingly destined for a Wild Card spot. Let’s dive into your questions for this week’s mailbag. Thanks, as always, to those who participated.

Pete Carroll has called this stretch an “out-of-character run” for Russell Wilson. He’s right, of course. Wilson’s play has been unrecognizable of late, particularly in last week’s loss to the Rams. His decision making has been troublesome and has led to a rare surge in turnovers.

But what’s maybe more concerning is what’s referenced in this question: Wilson is misfiring far too often on throws that are normally completions for him. I’m not sure there’s one obvious issue here. He says he’s not hurt and is “feeling great.” To me, it’s a combination of pressing and trying to do too much while also going through a bit of a slump. No athlete is immune to having one, and Wilson acknowledged he’s in the midst of his.

Wilson used a baseball metaphor, suggesting he’s in a stretch of going 0-4 at the plate for a few games but that he isn’t deterred from getting back into the batter’s box.

“What I do know about myself is I’m an overcomer,” Wilson said on Tuesday. “I’ve been doubted before and one thing about me is I’m going to keep swinging.”

Wilson has said multiple times that there’s no need to overcomplicate things, and he’s right. He’s aware of his misfires. He’s aware that his turnovers are hurting his team. Wilson’s tremendous play over the course of his career has earned him the benefit of the doubt that he’ll bounce back.

However, given what is at stake on Thursday, he’ll need to turn it around immediately.

I think it’s hard to say Jamal Adams’ impact has been limited when he has a team-high 5.5 sacks in just five games. That’s more than any Seahawks player had last year. But it is fair to say that his impact has come solely as a pass rusher, which is great, except he’s been mostly a liability in coverage.

Part of it might be that he’s trying too hard in that area. It’s probably more likely that he freelances a bit too much which gets him out of position. Guessing can get you burned in coverage. On other occasions, he’s just flat out getting beat. Regardless, he must improve in coverage if he’s going to be worth the massive haul Seattle gave up in order to acquire him from the Jets. His current 47.6 Pro Football Focus coverage grade won’t cut it.

If Chris Carson and/or Carlos Hyde return against the Cardinals, they would assume a majority of the workload. Hyde is expected to play having practiced fully on Tuesday, and it seems that Carson has a chance as well after returning in a limited capacity on Tuesday. Both would be a significant upgrade over Alex Collins, Travis Homer and DeeJay Dallas.

Poona Ford may be Seattle’s only defensive player who has improved year-over-year. At the very least, he’s at the top of a short list in that regard. Ford is Pro Football Focus’ eighth-ranked defensive tackle. (min. 50% of snaps) with an 81.9 grade. He’s had sterling pass rush grades the last two weeks of. 82.1 and 82.2, respectively, with five combined pressures and one sack over that span. His 64.4 pass rush grade this season is the best of his career. Overall, he’s Seattle’s second-highest graded defensive player (Bobby Wagner – 86.2).

Part of Ford’s production as a rusher could have to do with a move off of nose like this question suggests. Having Damon Harrison in the lineup now may help him get more reps at other spots as well. That will be something to watch on Thursday. Either way, Ford has emerged as one of Seattle’s most valuable defensive pieces.

Rashaad Penny should return to practice within a week or two, but he’d need a few weeks of practice under his belt before returning to game action. Darrell Taylor is still very questionable to play this season. As for Josh Gordon… *insert shrug emoji.*

The issues with the defense are comprehensive. Injuries have led to a lack of continuity. Coaches haven’t done a good enough job putting players in the right spots or making necessary in-game adjustments. Finally, as I suggested earlier, not enough players have progressed year-over-year. We’ve seen enough through nine games to start wondering whether we (myself included) overestimated the overall quality of Seattle’s personnel on defense. What appeared to be a stout group on paper prior to the season has left much to be desired.

Bruce Irvin and Marquise Blair suffering ACL tears has been devastating to the defense as well.

The next step for Nate Carroll would be an offensive coordinator gig. That would likely come at the collegiate level, but I suppose there’s a chance an NFL team could hire him in that role as well. My gut says he’ll be around in 2021.

The Seahawks are 6-3. Let’s not get crazy here.

Santa comes in 36 days. Hopefully he wears a mask.