BY Art Thiel 06:03PM 10/27/2016

Thiel: Time for Seahawks to rest Wilson Sunday

No braces or tape can help Wilson through a pectoral muscle injury. For a game against the weak defense of the Saints, it’s time to rest him and turn things over to backup Trevone Boykin and the defense.

For Russell Wilson, the season has been the first health ordeal of his pro career. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

So the Seahawks question of the week is: Do the coaches think a Trevone Boykin-led offense is good enough to get 17 points Sunday in New Orleans against the Saints defense, which is giving up 32.5 points a game, the NFL’s worst?

If the answer is yes, then rest Russell Wilson for a game, fergawdsakes.

If no, then what the hell? Fergawdsakes.

Now that Wilson has lost his superpower of near-indestructibility, a smart Seahawks idea for November and December would be to keep Clark Kent going until the offensive line can bury the kryptonite sufficiently deep that Superman can return.

If there were a game on the schedule to merit giving Wilson a rest, it is a game in which the opponents’ defense is least disruptive.

Naturally, Wilson scoffed Thursday when asked about his latest injury, a right pectoral muscle strained in Sunday’s game, and whether there was any way he would not start.

“That’s not the plan,” he said Thursday before practice. “I look forward to overcoming the storm.”

Wilson is the real-life embodiment of the Black Knight in Monty Python’s Quest for the Holy Grail after King Arthur hacks off his arm in a sword fight, yet keeps swinging.

“T’is but a scratch,” said Sir Knight. Or in Wilson’s words about his pec injury: “Not crazy, crazy bad or anything like that.”

Anyone who has strained a pec muscle knows it is a notoriously slow-healing injury, compounded by the fact that Wilson needs to throw 30 to 35 times for Seattle to succeed, plus countless warm-up throws. Please join me in a group cringe imagining a Saints edge rusher hooking Wilson’s right arm as he throws the ball.

Not a doctor-recommended therapy.

Even with a good offensive line, the chance of re-injuring a sore chest muscle is high. There is no tape or brace to help. And the Seahawks offensive line conjures no vision of the Himalayas.

As Arizona CB Tyrann Matthieu said after Sunday’s game,  “Let’s call it what it is – their offensive line is not that good.”

And that was with regular starter Bradley Sowell at left tackle. He claimed Wednesday to have recovered from a sprain Sunday the left MCL in his knee, but the Seahawks are working two rookies, George Fant and Rees Odhiampo, at the position this week. If it’s Fant, he’ll be starting his first game at any level of football at left tackle, the second-most important offensive position behind quarterback.

At least Boykin, Wilson’s back-up and another rookie, spent his college career at quarterback. If Fant starts, it’s almost like asking a truck driver, after an afternoon of training, to jump into the cockpit of a 747.

The local and national criticism of the O-line went beyond Matthieu, deservedly so. The offense never crossed the 50 on its own during regulation time, piling up five first downs and 130 yards. But line coach Tom Cable wasn’t moved to weep over the public catcalls.

“I don’t mean to offend anybody, but that stuff doesn’t matter to us,’’ he said Wednesday. “Because if you get into that world, then you become kind of like fan thought. If they understood what is going on, they would think they are pretty good.

So right now, (linemen) look at the film, they look at their grade, (and say) ‘That’s who I am. That’s the truth.’ Whatever is written or said doesn’t mean anything.’’

If coach Pete Carroll were to decide Sunday morning to go with Boykin and the suggested 17-point aspiration, it also means asking the Seahawks defense to hold the Saints’ No. 3-ranked offense (29.3 ppg) to 16 points or less — after Seattle went a spirit-draining 95 plays in Sunday’s draw with Arizona.

But if there was any group of guys that would respond well to orders that demanded re-digging the Panama Canal using spoons, it is the Seahawks defense. Silverware up, gents.

Wilson has shown an impressive ability to power through knee and ankle injuries when many believed he couldn’t or shouldn’t. But it’s fair to wonder whether his hyper-competitiveness can override the judgment of the coaching staff. I asked Carroll Monday whether Wilson is more honest with coaches than he is during his media pronouncements that he feels good.

“No, I think he’s being honest with you also,” Carroll said. “That’s exactly the way he feels. That’s exactly the way he wants see it and that’s the way he wants to look at it. He’s telling you exactly what he feels. I would never question that.”

So the question Sunday morning will be between Wilson’s wants and the Seahawks’ needs. For the first time in five years, there may be a difference.



  • Art, when I used Superman analogies recently you told me, “Pull up, Neutral. Pull up. Analogy crash coming at great speed.”

    Now you’re using the same ones, and you know what I’m telling Lois!

    Back to the football, Russ has lost 50% of his mobility since the leg injuries and he’s hurting the team. Boykin time is overdue.

    • art thiel

      It’s not what you use, it’s how you use it,

  • Gerald Turner

    If Boykin is not good enough to fill in for a game against a weak defense why is he your only backup?

    • Boykin looked capable for three pre-season games, but in the fourth he looked ‘iffy’. By then it was too late to get Jim Zorn fit.

    • art thiel

      They could share if the Seahawks get a lead.

  • 1coolguy

    I don’t see RW sitting Sunday. It would make sense for the team to have him sit, especially since it is a non-division game, yet they will start him. What I see will be an attempt to run the ball, given the Saints poor D, and if the Hawks develop a comfortable lead, for Boykin to play. A pulled or strained pec takes time to heal – no tape, no brace, etc – so the strain must not be too bad, as I don’t see Pete risking the season.
    Sure wish a miracle would happen with the O line. The lack of talent, I am convinced, cost the Hawks their SB game with the Patriots and certainly lost them another SB trip last year. It would be good to get past this experiment, which has so clearly cost the teams’ success.

    • art thiel

      I suspect Carroll sees no need to make a call before game time. Boykin is getting the snaps already, and he needs to let Wilson have every minute to heal.

  • Matt712

    Takuafu was brought back this week, Prosise is finally healthy, and (at least on film) Fant actually looked good on running plays – his technique is already better than Sowell’s. The Seahawks are going to run the ball on Sunday. If the defense does its job, look for a big game from C-Mike and a low-risk game-management performance from Russ.

    Sitting Wilson is just not gonna happen. That’s just not pro football mentality. He’s solidified his leadership, he’s one of the game’s best students, and most importantly, he protects the football better than any QB in the league – a top Carroll priority. Wilson has shown through these injuries that he is savvy enough to play within his physical limitations and perform to a respectable passer rating. One errant throw from Boykin blows that all to hell.

    Also, if a the NFL mentality is to be believed, until a team has their playoff spot and first round bye all wrapped up, it will play each and every game like it’s the last. You play to win. Period. Boykin simply does not give the Seahawks their best chance to win. Wilson does.

    • art thiel

      Carroll has to manage short-term and long-term. In this case, long-term is served by making a short-term change in a game winnable without Wilson.

  • ll9956

    Tom Cable on those who have concerns about the offensive line: ” . . . If they understood what is going on, they would think they are pretty good.” OK, I guess I don’t understand what is going on. I calls ’em the way I sees ’em. And what I see is an absence of holes for the RB’s to run through, missed blocks and holding penalties galore. Maybe I’m missing something.

    I agree with you, Art. Russell deserves credit for being tough-minded, but he’s banged up and needs a chance to heal. It’s time to give Boykin a chance to get some valuable experience. He may not have all the smarts that Russell has, but he’s got a lot more mobility at this point.

    • art thiel

      I realize the Saints don’t have the edge rushers that AZ does. But if he takes one hit with his arm extended . . .

  • disqus_0fotImVld4

    Your thesis reminds me of the late, great Warren Zevon’s song, “Roland, the Headless Thompson Gunner.” Worth listening to….

    • art thiel

      Know the song. Not fond of sports/war analogies.

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  • Paul Harmening

    I seriously doubt RW or Carroll knows anything about this conversation. We had a QB who played most of the year with a pec injury the year before RW got here. If offense can get ahead by 3 scores, maybe RW gets a rest, otherwise…Forget about it.