We know that not every quarterback is on every week. Even the greats have head-scratching games that aren’t concerning in a vacuum but are still uncomfortable to watch. Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes had his in Week 5 against the Las Vegas Raiders. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Tom Brady had his last week in the most lopsided loss of his career to the New Orleans Saints. The Seattle Seahawks’ Russell Wilson was on the verge of his in Week 9 as well after he had four turnovers in a 44-34 loss to the Buffalo Bills.
Mahomes recovered, of course. Brady returned to form. Wilson? If last week was in fact his head-scratching performance, Week 10’s matchup with NFC West foe the Los Angeles Rams made you want to bang your head against the wall—or in less dramatic fashion, at least turn the channel.
The blame for Seattle’s recent—and now somewhat historical—woes has been rightfully put on its defense, head coach Pete Carroll, and more recently offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. Wilson, who has carried the team for seasons, not just this 6-3 year, has been able to elude almost all of that blame, but there was no escaping it Sunday. Forget the MVP race. Forget a deep postseason run. Wilson, WTF, man?
It could be that the Rams are his kryptonite. In Wilson’s last two games against Los Angeles, dating back to Week 13 of the 2019 season, he’s completed 60% of his passes for 492 yards, no touchdowns, three interceptions, and two fumbles. In Sunday’s 23-16 loss, he was 22-of-37 for 248 yards and three turnovers. What was originally thought of as quarterback Jared Goff versus a struggling Seahawks defense turned into Wilson versus Wilson for the second consecutive week. The problem is, it’s not just the Rams. FOX Sports commentator Troy Aikman said it best in the final minute of the game after one of those head-scratching plays. Wilson had the opportunity to create some magic after a 14-yard scramble to move the chains. The Seahawks now had a fresh set of downs, but instead of stopping the clock as he neared the sidelines, Wilson stayed inbounds. Maybe the 10-point deficit with 1:13 left on the clock was a bit too much for Wilson to overcome after the day he had, but that’s certainly not the passer we’ve come to know.
“I don’t know what’s happening right now,” Aikman said as the offense scurried back to the line of scrimmage and Wilson was sacked on the ensuing play.
“It's not on anybody but me,” Wilson said in his postgame press conference. “I put it on my shoulders and will get it fixed.”
Wilson has had very few bad games. So much so, it’s jarring to see him play this poorly. Nearly everything was off and there were a couple of crucial mistakes that can’t be excused away. There was the end zone interception that should have been Wilson carrying the rock in the opening field. Wilson characterized it as a bad decision, and no one would disagree. He could have moved on, there was a lot of game left, but in the time that passed, the team—and Wilson—regressed. He rarely targeted his top wide receiver, D.K. Metcalf, who had a season-low four targets. Even later in the game, there was a lack of urgency that is unrecognizable in Wilson’s game.
He could have pulled off some more late-game heroics, but Wilson isn’t the only reason for the disappointment that’s followed the Seahawks these past two weeks. Carroll, again, wasn’t aggressive enough with arguably the best rushing quarterback in the league. When up against the clock and a deficit, we’ve seen Wilson orchestrate some of the most magical plays in football. This week, for whatever reason or a multitude of them, he fell short of the passer we know. With a good team, that’s manageable; heck, with Seattle’s 2013 defense, the team could have pulled off the win.
Wilson is still great, still magical. He’ll need to be both of those things Thursday against the red-hot Arizona Cardinals where the winner, based on record alone, will sit atop the NFC West. We know Wilson will be looking forward to this matchup. In almost an annoyingly positive way, he could make the weariest person believe he’ll come back better, and even if they don’t believe it, Wilson still does. But which Wilson will show up on the field Thursday?