BY Art Thiel 04:39PM 08/13/2020

Thiel: Should Wilson cook more? He says yes

Via Twitter, Seahawks fans have for years implored Pete Carroll to #LetRussCook. Now Wilson has boldly joined the chorus. The man has new swagger.

Russell Wilson has a serious swagger about him in camp.  / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest file

For the record, Russell Wilson denies he has ever retweeted the popular Twitter hashtag #LetRussCook.

But it sounded Thursday as if he’s thought a whole lot about the notion behind it.

In fact, in a 2½-minute response to the much-debated matter — if you’re a non-tweeter, most of the football world insists that coach Pete Carroll throttle back the Seahawks’ run game to let one of the NFL’s best QBs flourish early as well as late — Wilson, smiling a lot, basically said gimme the chef’s hat.

“That doesn’t always mean just me chucking it around, but it it does mean that the more times I have the ball my hands, the more things I think can happen,” he said in a Zoom conference with local reporters from training camp. Asked if he agreed with the hashtag’s sentiment, he said, “Yeah, I definitely think so.”

So now we have official drama in camp.

Will Carroll give up the Flintstones playbook and hand Wilson the Jetsons playbook? Will Wilson on his own tear off Carroll’s imposition of the Clark Kent dress code in the first quarter and let Superman swoop all game over the Lex Luthors of the NFL?

We deploy cartoon imagery because it is a cartoon argument.

Many things go into playcalling that are likely unknowable from the stands and pressbox — hurting (but not injured) players on both sides, earlier plays designed to make counters work later, game-plan changes, etc. The fan’s fastest fury is summoned after a run gets stuffed when a pass should have been the obvious call, and vice versa.

Having said all that, there’s this: The Seahawks have won their past 57 games in a row when leading at halftime by four or more points (a stat Wilson mentioned), yet in 2019 were 29th in the NFL in first-half pass attempts per game.

We know that Wilson, in 143 career games, has guided the Seahawks to an NFL-best 32 fourth-quarter/OT comeback wins, including five in 2019 when the Seahawks finished the regular season 11-5 despite cumulatively outscoring opponents by seven points.

Wilson’s ability to make something late out of nothing, air or ground, is staggering. He has saved more games than Imelda Marcos saved shoes.

But how about playing from ahead once in a while?

We all know of Carroll’s deep affection for the run game. The Seahawks in 2018 led the NFL in rushing attempts as the only team that ran more than passed (53 to 47 percent), and was third in 2019, behind Baltimore and San Francisco. More than mere passion, Carroll’s fear of early turnovers (“it’s all about the ball”) guides his approach.

But is it not possible to take a few more risks early with a QB of Wilson’s accuracy,  knowledge and judgment? Yes, he’ll have a stinker game or two every year, but is it necessary to bring every outcome down to Indiana Jones barely outrunning a giant rolling boulder?

Here’s how Wilson put it:

“Do some fun things in the fourth quarter, but let’s treat every quarter as the fourth . . . I definitely believe that I can help us win. Whatever way or fashion that is, I’m willing to do and I’m excited about that.”

Whether Carroll is similarly excited remains to be seen. The Seahawks last year produced a second quality target in DK Metcalf to go with Tyler Lockett, and in the off-season brought in veteran free agent Greg Olsen to accompany a healthy Will Dissly at tight end. RB Chris Carson — who is dealing with a family death and has not yet reported to camp — is said to be healthy as well.

The mystery, as always, is the line, where only one position, left tackle with Duane Brown, is a sure thing. In a season with zero exhibition games, all lost to the coronavirus, it’s a bad time to throw together a line.

But above all, the Seahawks have Wilson, despite the tumult in the world that left him despairing a couple of months ago.

“For me personally, it was a difficult off-season,” he said. “(Ciara) being pregnant (the couple gave birth to a healthy boy named Win Harrison Wilson), everything else changing around the world. In our own personal communities, it was pretty heavy.

“At the same time, the quality time I was able to spend with my teammates and also my family, while (in) an unfortunate time, was one of the greatest gifts.”

In words and tone, Wilson at 31 has never had such public swagger.

“I feel like I’m the best I’ve ever been,” he said, “but I feel like I’m only at 70 percent capacity. I feel like I got a whole ‘nother 30 more in me.

“When I step on the field, I want the other team to know they’re in trouble.”

Forks up, people. You too, Pete. The man shall cook.

 


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YourThoughts

  • Hockeypuck

    Huge fan of the Imeda Marcos analogy btw. Care to do an over/under on how many would know her name if you asked 10 Millennials?

    • James

      Probably none would know Imeda Marcos. Some might know Imelda Marcos.

      Not a good metaphor comparing Russ’s less than 100 saved games to 3,000 pair of shoes paid for with money stolen from the Philippine government while her nation languished in poverty. This site has jumped the shark.

      • Hockeypuck

        Love the humorless sanctimony. Bill Maher is still on if you get bored…

      • DB

        It’s a really good pull and great metaphor. If nothing else, you’re consistent. There’s little doubt that you’d find something negative to say about having a $100 bill randomly blow in through your window.

        • James

          My bad, I didn’t realize Imelda jokes from 1986 were making a comeback. Thought they went to the grave with Johnny Carson.

          • art thiel

            Your standards are so high, yet you keep coming back.

      • Chris Alexander

        It’s a fine metaphor: Russ has a huge collection of 4th quarter wins, Mrs. Marcos had a huge collection of shoes. And if you want to highlight the theft and suffering angles, at least a few opposing teams would probably claim that Russ STOLE those wins and that Seattle profited while they suffered.

        At the end of the day, this is another EXCELLENT article by Mr. Thiel with some colorful phrasing.

        • art thiel

          I bow in your general direction.

      • art thiel

        I guess that means g’bye. You’ll be missed.

    • Brent Hannon

      an Imelda Marcos sighting! along with Jetsons, Flintstones, chef’s hats, superman and more. Art in top form. ps I got the Imelda reference right away: I’m no millennial.

      • Brent Hannon

        ps: i am one of a select few who viewed the preserved body of husband Ferdinand in a glass coffin in Laoag, northern Luzon. so there’s that. The body has since been buried, in case you were thinking of going yourself.

        • art thiel

          So as a fan of the perverse, I see your Marcos and raise you a Buford Pusser death car in Pigeon Forge, TN.

          • Brent Hannon

            Buford Pusser! I concede . . . for now.

      • art thiel

        Thanks for standing for your generation.

    • art thiel

      That’s why I linked to a story on the Divine Miss M. Then again, some people’s deeds transcend time and space.

      • tor5

        Imelda’s shoes is a fine analogy for sure. But just to keep it straight, the Divine Miss M was Bette Midler… to throw out another name that the youngins won’t know.

        • art thiel

          I was shooting for irony.

  • Husky73

    Tempting fate….the Seahawks are one ACL injury from a 3-13 season.

    • art thiel

      Been that way for about eight years now.

  • jafabian

    I agree with Russ about treating each quarter like the 4th. Why not take the ball after winning the coin flip instead of deferring like always? Better yet, get Macklemore be the permanent halftime entertainment.

    Bring in Rusty Tillman as Special Teams coach! He always developed a standout like Fredd Young and Rufus Porter. The Hawks could use one of those.

    • art thiel

      Ben Burr-Kirven could be the special-teams guy.

      Carroll wants his defense to improve as the games wear own. Early learning then becomes important.

  • DJ

    Thanks Art – I’d love to see Russ do his thing. Not so simple – anyone forget that Wilson pretty much leads in sacks? Gotta protect the Chef or he’ll be the one getting tenderized.

    • art thiel

      True on sacks, but getting ahead earlier means less reliance late on plays risky to Wilson and the outcome.

  • DB

    Russ wants the ball in his hands more? My read is that he wants a better defense that can get off the field on 3rd down, giving him more offensive possessions. He already has the option of checking in or out of plays at the line. The ‘win record leading at halftime’ stat surely came from Shotty. They both know that the regular slow starts, due to a lack of staying on schedule and lack of possessions, has been their nemesis. Finally, Russ cooks better in the 4th because defenses are tired and by then their tendencies on the day have become more apparent. That won’t change.

    • art thiel

      True about RW in the 4Q, where his runs from the pocket against a tiring defense are devastating.

      In the big picture, of course the defense needs to be better to give more opps to Russell. But that topic isn’t directly about general playcalling on the offense. Again, Carroll really dislikes early turnovers from riskier plays.

  • BD

    Last year I was teaching a class of 20 somethings and made a Barney Fife joke. They all just stared at me. It was a good joke and…nothin’. Then it occurred to me and I said, “None of you know who Barney Fife is, do you?” They all shook their heads no. Which is what I thought when I read the Imelda Marcos shoe reference, “…great line, I wonder how many got it?” Then I came in here and read this thread and thought, “This must be where the discerning old geezers come to read about sports…just like me.”

    I do come in here to read because of Art Thiel and his talents. Read the Jamal Adams story he wrote that’s still up. Art opens with Jamal making his bed in order to leave a good impression with the Zoom interviewers. He then circles back at the end and finishes with a “make your bed and lie in it” quote. That is classic Art Thiel and why he is so good to read. But you may have to be old to get him. Or smart.

    On Wilson cooking more in the first half; maybe I’m just old and cynical but it’s always struck me that that may be by design in order to make Wilson some kind of 4th quarter comeback king. Or that he just may not have the juice to play “run around ball” for four quarters, saves himself and then plays the “run around” game when the other players have run out of juice. Which may not work in the first half because the other players are full of juice. Wilson does seem to get sacked more in the first half when he tries holding onto the ball too long waiting for something to break. So maybe it’s about the juice and who’s got the most left in the bottom of the can? Not sure if that will work in the first half when everybody on the field is playing with a full can of fresh juice.

    • art thiel

      It’s true that Wilson’s scramble runs work better against a tired defense. So do his accurate throws. But again, Carroll wants to avoid early turnovers that put the Seahawks in a hole that forces more passing to catch up. But now it’s time to trust Wilson. (Except that Carson led the NFL in fumbles, and Metcalf had numerous drops.)

      Meantime, thanks for the kind words. Pop-culture analogies will always miss with some readers, but if enough others work, maybe they’ll hang around.

      • BD

        That does seem to be the Seahawk’s offensive philosophy in the first two and a half quarters or so; be conservative, don’t turn the ball over, keep the score close, then let Wilson rip late. But isn’t that in part due to the players that Wilson has had to throw to? Or better, the player’s Wilson hasn’t had? Like a first rate Tight End that can stay healthy?

        Wilson’s skill set, imo, is made for a great TE. Not sure why the Seahawks and Jimmy Graham didn’t work out better. Because a really good, mismatching TE, crossing through a defenses zone or up the seam is what the Seahawks offense seems to need. It’s certainly the Achilles Heal of Seattle’s defensive implosions. And I think the Seahawks brain trust knows that and has tried to remedy it, season after season, without much luck.

        So what are your thoughts on Olsen, Dissly and whoever the third TE is in combination of a moving pocket or a designed roll out/run threat for Wilson early? That’s what has me excited about this season, the potential for their TE play added to the other weapons they now have. Does Olsen have any juice left in his can or can Dissly keep his wheels from falling off is more the question.

        • BD

          heel…not heal.