As many of you know, I was one of a few that was a big fan of Russell Wilson's NFL prospects before the draft. I viewed him as the Tom Brady type steal that could be seen coming. Upon scouting and researching him in college, I did not find evidence of his height effecting his results. Wilson became a Seahawk, and soon posted one of the best QB performances in the preseason among not just rookies, but veterans too. A month ago, I really believed that Russell Wilson could be our version of a rookie Cam Newton or Big Ben. I thought Seattle had an excellent chance to be playing in this year's Superbowl.
Instead, Russell Wilson has shown struggles in multiple areas that I've never seen from him before. His pocket presence went from a strength to a problem. His ability to read the field has gone from a strength to a problem. He seems much more uncomfortable handling pressure than before. His accuracy/control/location was mostly outstanding at Wisconsin, but has looked highly suspect at times over the first four games of this season. While it's probably true that Wilson is being held back by a conservative offense, I feel that his problems stem well beyond that right now.
I'm not panicking, because many of Wilson's issues could just be part of "promotion sickness" as I call it. If you follow baseball at all, then you know not to expect your ace hitting prospect who's batting .330 in Triple-A to bat .330 immediately in the Major Leagues. Doubly so if you are a Mariners fan. Michael Saunders- who put the team through three years of crap before finally becoming solidly good this year- is the best position player prospect success story the team can point to in recent history. With very few exceptions, there is an adjustment period to be expected. I was hoping that Wilson could be that exception, but so far it looks like we'll have to wait on him like almost everyone else. I don't think it will take nearly as long as Saunders did, but we now know that Wilson will require more time to excel than none at all.
While I haven't given up hope completely, the early returns suggest a very different 2012 season, one in which the team is continuing to build instead of competing immediately for a championship.
When John Schneider first came here, he talked about a 4 year plan. Year one was about adding as much talent as possible while turning over the roster like crazy. Year two was about fixing the O-line and D-line. Year three was about fixing the pass rush. Next year is year four, and we've been told by a certain net Nostradamus that it was meant to be the year of the QB in this plan, at least until Flynn and Wilson changed things. Or did they? I guess we'll find out.
When I finished college and got my degree, I wasn't very motivated about getting a job. I have a degree in recording arts communication, and jobs in that field are really hard to break into. After a time, my dad started to pressure me about my career search. He'd ask me questions, asking me what I had done that week or what I was planning on doing the next day. He wanted to see signs of progress. Every time I'd come up with something clever to say, but ultimately the lack of results led to a building sense of well deserved cynicism.
And I totally understand why he would react that way. Let's say you need a 50 page report that requires much research and effort, and it's due in a month. A week in, you ask this person how things are going. He provides no real evidence of progress, but tells you that things are going fine. Two weeks in, you ask again. Again, he shows no evidence of work but assures you that everything is on schedule. Weeks three and four come and go with no changes. It's the day before the due date, and this person has still not produced any signs of progress. How optimistic would you feel about having that 50 page report ready by D-day?
Something I've learned is that showing signs of progress is important. It's like a down payment of trust- something that builds good faith and confidence.
I mean no disrespect and am not trying to call anyone out, but I've heard many say that they need to see wins now and have (by my interpretation) inferred that they may revoke their full support if the immediate winning doesn't happen. I think that kind of talk is completely understandable, but also a year early. John Schneider is presumably on a 5 year contract (as Pete Carroll is). He could have said that he would build this team on a 5 year plan, but he didn't. He also did not say that he would build it on a 3 year plan. He specifically said 4 years. And we are in year 3.
This team still has problems, but I think it's important to remember the good faith this regime has built up. After year one, regime team set out to add as much talent as possible, leaving no stone unturned. They did exactly that, improving the team by two wins and drafting two pro-bowlers (Thomas, Chancellor) and three others who are quality starters (Okung, McCoy, Tate), in addition to several low profile free agents that helped the team win an unexpected division title. In year two, they set out to fix the lines. They did exactly that: by the end of the 2011 season our O-line was playing on a high level and our Bryant-Branch-Mebane-Clemons D-line was an above average group. As an added bonus, they created an elite young secondary on the cheap. In year three they set out to improve the pass rush and increase the speed of the defense. The early returns are promising. Not among those stated year 3 goals was getting a franchise QB. Instead it was merely to find competition for Tarvaris Jackson. They brought in two quarterbacks with this purpose in mind, and it was so successful that Jackson isn't even here anymore after he was outplayed by both of them.
I haven't given up on this season. I think Seattle is a playoff caliber team, and in almost any other division, we'd probably be 1st place right now. I haven't given up on Russell Wilson as a rookie winner. But even if Seattle fails to overachieve, that's okay, because they were overachieving by even being in this position. This regime has been very successful reaching their stated goals thus far. Who would bet against them if their stated goal this offseason is improving the pass offense?
They say it takes one to know one, and I know better than most what an excuse making slacker looks like. These guys, they ain't it. They are hard workers who know what they are doing, and they do exactly what they say they will do. They do not make excuses; they make a way.
In August of 2011, this team was a favorite in the race to win the Luck sweepstakes. The Seahawks opened a majority of national "power polls" at #32. That is no insult to this regime- still new at the time- it simply shows how big of a hole they were digging out of. Just one year later Bill Simmons- an ESPN writer and Patriots fan- predicted the Seahawks would make the Superbowl.
Whether Wilson ends up being our franchise savior in 2012 or 2013, or whether that franchise savior ends up being a new face in 2013, I'm just going to shut up and strap in for the ride. This team is talent overkill. It's a stick of dynamite soaked in kerosene. A quality quarterback is the match. We are frustrated right now because we are all like giddy 13 year old pyromaniacs off their Ritalin standing in front of this bonanza, but we can't seem to find the damn matchbox. When that match will light is anyone's guess, but when it does I would advise getting some distance and avoiding direct eye contact without wearing a welding mask.
Like 2011, I expect 2012 to be an evolving season. Our 3rd and long defense can't play this poorly all season while playing so well at everything else. Our passing offense isn't going to be elite, but it will figure things out. It will improve as experience is gained, adjustments are made, and chemistry is developed. Pete Carroll has already said that he will scale up the offense as the season rolls along. You can logically expect for things to get better before the season is over.
Whatever happens this season, let's not lose sight of the shimmering treasure trove we are sitting on right now. This team is young and this team has almost everything you'd want outside of a great QB, and it's being led by people who have a knack for accomplishing their goals. They told us to wait four years. They have exceeded our expectations wildly through three. If there was ever a time to look at a 2-2 record with a glass half full mentality, this is it. When Pete and John came to town, they had a very tough task in front of them, but everything I have seen so far has created more than enough good faith that they will come through for us by the appointed time, if not sooner.