BY Art Thiel 06:32PM 03/30/2021

Thiel: Wilson’s new protector puts his foot down

New Seahawks OL Gabe Jackson was ejected last season for stomping on Ndamukong Suh. Is there a better way to introduce the new bodyguard for Russell Wilson?

Gabe Jackson has what QB Russell Wilson wants. / Zoom via Seahawks.com

After complaining publicly in February about teammates for the first time in his career, Russell Wilson created franchise tumult. The Seahawks bosses were sent fluttering about like Vatican cardinals after the pope complained his soup was cold.

They found some hot soup.

Gabe Jackson is a sufficiently bad-ass offensive lineman to have stomped on Ndamukong Suh. Do you have any idea how long the line is behind Jackson of NFL players who wished they could have done that?

At the time playing right guard for the Las Vegas Raiders, Jackson was ejected from a week 7 game last season against Tampa Bay for an encounter with the Bucs’ notorious defensive lineman, the poster child for dirty play in the NFL.

On a goal-line play in the third quarter of the Bucs’ eventual 45-20 win, Jackson felt compelled to confront Suh’s beastliness.

“One of my teammates (OL Denzelle Good) is a great friend of mine,” Jackson told Seattle reporters on a Zoom conference Tuesday. “Even if he wasn’t a close friend, he’s my teammate, my brother, a person I go to battle with every week. I was protecting him. (Suh) was grabbing his leg, trying to twist it, and hurt it. So I was just a little outraged.”

Just a little outraged. Dunno if I’ve ever heard that phrase. But I like it.

“It was something that was dirty,” Jackson said. “I’m all about playing hard, playing physical between the whistles, but not to endanger someone’s career. Plus, he’s a great guy. I won’t let nothin’ bad happen to him.”

So Jackson stomped on Suh. Jackson was thrown out, and fined $12,500. Tuesday he was also chagrined about the reference.

“You had to bring up the Tampa game,” he said.

Oh, hell yes. If I were Jackson, I’d make a business card that reads, “I was just a little outraged . . . I won’t let nothin’ bad happen to him,” and hand it to Wilson.

That is exactly the attitude Wilson was seeking from his public scold. As most Seahawks fans can recall readily these days from his citation, Wilson has been sacked 394 times, surely a Hall of Fame number at Safeway already.

The Seahawks were sufficiently eager for Jackson, who started 83 of 84 career games for the Raiders at either left or right guard since he was taken in the third round from Mississippi State in the 2014 draft, that they gave up in trade precious cargo — a fifth-round choice, or 25 percent of their draft stock. Then again, with the way the Seahawks have drafted lately, it may have been a sleeves-off-a-vest kind of deal.

Wilson indicated to Jackson he was appreciative. For readers of Wilsonian tea leaves this off-season, the gesture bodes well.

“He was excited,” Jackson reported. ” I don’t know if he was as excited as me, but we’re both excited to work together.”

The excitement also filtered into the salary cap office. News came Tuesday of an extension for Jackson’s seemingly onerous contract that called for $9.6 million this year and $9.5 million next year. By adding a third year, the cap hit for 2021 was reduced to about $4 million.

Although it seems likely Jackson will replace the retired Mike Iupati on the left side, the Seahawks could shift rookie star Damien Lewis there. Jackson said it doesn’t matter.

“You always have to get used to whatever side you’re on,’’ he said. “It’s a switch-up, of course, of your body, to adjust and learn ways of movement. Whatever the team wants me to do, I’m for it.’’

One outside observer, former NFL O-lineman and now Sirius XM Radio host Geoff Schwartz, figures the upgrade will be noteworthy from the oft-injured Iupati, 33.

“Mike was getting up there in age and wasn’t moving as well,” Schwartz said on an NBC Sports Northwest podcast with Joe Fann. “Gabe will be able to do those things a lot better. You hope that he also can come in and mentor Lewis.

“He is just a solid guard. He’s maybe past the days of being physically superior, which he’d been for quite a few years. He was dominating guys when he was young, and maybe he can get back to that in Seattle. He’s a good, quality guard who is very reliable. You know what you’re getting from him.”

From a standpoint of satisfying Wilson’s desire for a little more safety, Jackson figures to be the lone personnel upgrade. The other four linemen from 2020 — Lewis, LT Duane Brown, RT Brandon Shell and C Ethan Pocic — all return, although Pocic’s $1.3 million salary doesn’t preclude adding a more established center.

The rest of the improvement has to come from the scheme of new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron, as well as persuading Wilson that there’s plenty of yards, wins and glory in the quick passing game.

No matter the emotional satisfaction, reliance on Jackson’s willingness to stomp on Wilson’s tormentors risks fouling out.


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YourThoughts

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  • jafabian

    He started 16 games and had 3 penalties called on him and didn’t give up a sack so that’s a plus. However the Seahawks stress run blocking among their linemen so we’ll see how Jackson adjusts.

    • art thiel

      It’s nice to have an OL with a plus grade in pass-blocking, yes?

      • jafabian

        Absolutely. If he can play all 17 games and the playoffs then he’s definitely an upgrade to Iupati. A couple penalties and doesn’t give up a sack? Give this man Walter Jones’ jersey!

  • Alan Harrison

    “…there’s plenty of yards, wins and glory in the quick passing game.” Yes, Russell. There is. I swear there is.

    • 1coolguy

      Everyone is missing something in their game, granted, but it’s inexplicable RW holding onto the ball as long as he does and almost NEVER throwing it away. Of all the sacks he has had, I suggest at least 1/3 and maybe 1/2 are on him.
      I’m surprised none of the OL haven’t sat him down and told him to get his shxx together and quit blaming them.

      • art thiel

        Your percentage is way off, but his decision-making is rooted in the belief that he can make nearly every deep pass if he can buy himself one more second. Most of the time, he’s been correct, and the darling of the Seahawks and the NFL in doing so. But one or two avoidable sacks per game can be the difference.

    • art thiel

      All features will be enhanced by improved pass blocking and a TE who gets YAC on third down.

  • Mark Stratton

    If he stomps on Aaron Donald he’s a good hire.

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  • Husky73

    Once again, I ask—Do Pete Carroll and John Schneider know more than we do?

    • art thiel

      Are you asking me, or commenters?

  • Kevin Mohundro

    I’m suprised LV let him go, these guys (solid O-lineman) – as the Hawks can surely attest to are hard to find and difficult to retain. I believe Gabe is a step above several 1st round lineman the Hawks drafted during the last decade. Could be he wanted out of LV and refused to rework his contract. In any event it seems to me Russell has a gem added to an O-line that appears to be shaping up – although I’ve thought that before…..

    • art thiel

      Jackson, as with many players in the NFL’s middle class, was a cap casualty. Nothing he said or did caused him to lose standing with the Raiders. He’s a big upgrade over Iupati.

  • HonestyandReality Guy

    My question is whether Wilson has irreversibly divided the team? In other words, a Kaepernick II. After his Floyd fiasco rant, one I considered hateful, wrong, deceitful, anti American, anti police, profiling, divisive for many team members,, and more, I noticed his turnovers substantially increased and stats decreased. Remember when Kaepernick pulled that, it took the 49ers years to recover and become a competitive team once again. In order to become competitive again, they had to part with him.

    Also, Wilson used to come to press conferences as a team leader, speaking favorably about his coaches, team and fellow players. Now it seems to be he is trying to act as a rock star (Ciara wanna be) and coach of the team.

    If any team with Wilson will be successful, I believe Wilson needs to become a leader again, not divide his team and play the game. The coaches shouldn’t play and the players shouldn’t think they are the coach. He is welcome to properly and privately make wanted suggestions to coaches. Sorry, I am just no longer a fan of Wilson. My opinion.

    • art thiel

      You’re entitled to your view, without apology. But connecting his social activism with a downturn in play has no basis in fact. Pure speculation, as it is with Kap, who was voted captain by teammates. The years of 49ers decay had everything to do with Harbaugh and and a dysfunctional regime.

      I’m sure there are some teammates who disagree with any team leaders in any sport taking a stand on political/social issues. So what? All workplaces are experiencing division, and in pro sports, their financial futures depend on compartmentalizing and working for the greater good.

      Wilson has the support of the vast majority of his teammates. He will have some bridge-building to do with some teammates and coaches. I suspect by September this off-season of crankiness will be in the rear view mirror.

      • HonestyandReality Guy

        We will see. I view some players as commodities. In other words, sell at the high. I really believe that I’m right on this.