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Did Seahawks trade disaster to the Broncos?
Seaside Joe 1323: Fire Pete, Keep Russ? A re-imagining of the 2022 offseason
This is not the first time that a Russell Wilson offense has struggled in the beginning of a season and there is time to rebound, as Robert Griffin III expects. But if reports on Tuesday morning about Wilson dealing with a “fairly significant” hamstring injury snowball into an extended absence, it won’t even be a “Wilson offense” for long, and that could potentially lead to the Seattle Seahawks receiving a top-five pick in next year’s NFL Draft.
As a rookie in 2012, Wilson had eight touchdowns and seven interceptions with two lost fumbles over his first seven starts. Wilson then had a passer rating of 116.5 over the next nine games and the Seahawks had the most potent offense in the league. The next year, Wilson had zero or one touchdown in four of his first six starts before going on a streak of at least two touchdowns in each of the next six games.
In 2015, Wilson had 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions over his first nine starts. Then 24 touchdowns and one interception over his last seven. The next year, Wilson had only five touchdowns in his first seven starts and Seattle scored 12 or fewer points in three of those games. So yes, even as a veteran, as a Super Bowl winner, as a perennial MVP candidate, Russell Wilson has played about as poorly in the past as he did through six games with the Denver Broncos.
The only reason it’s being highlighted to this degree now is that Wilson finds himself in a new situation and the microscope was pointed directly at the Broncos from the start of the season. It is of course notable that Denver is dead last in scoring, but that would be forgiveable at the moment if the Broncos had done something better than attempt a 65-yard field goal to beat the Seahawks in Week 1 and won their last two games, both overtime defeats.
The Broncos are three field goals away from being 5-1 instead of 2-4.
Take all the talk about the 5-1 Giants, a team with its own version of an ugly passing offense (31st in yards, 30th in net yards per attempt), and that would be the Denver Broncos right now if maybe Nathaniel Hackett was a more savvy late-game coach at this stage in his career. However, that’s not the Broncos right now and it appears as though Wilson could miss significant time for the second year in a row.
The Seahawks lost five of six games from the time that Wilson first missed a contest in 2021, going 1-2 with Geno Smith, then 0-3 with an inadequate version of Wilson on the return.
If that same fate befalls the Broncos (Jets, Jaguars, bye, Titans, Raiders, Panthers, Ravens is the upcoming six), they would be 3-9 after 12 games. For what it’s worth, a 4-13 record landed teams in the 4-5 pick range this year, and 5-12 came in at 6th overall. If backup Brett Rypien needs to become the starter for a while, it would take quite an effort for Denver to finish any better than 6-11 at this point. Even with Wilson, do the Broncos actually have a talented enough roster, a good enough coaching staff, and an easy enough schedule to win more than five games?
That’s the way that people were talking about the Seahawks six weeks ago. That’s the way that Seaside Joe was talking about the Seahawks six weeks ago.
What a dramatic turn of perspectives on the state of these two franchises. Not just from the start of the season, but when the Seahawks and Broncos decided to make a trade involving Wilson, a bevy of draft picks, and a handful of veteran players.
If that’s how bad the situation could be for Denver this year, just imagine if Seahawks ownership had taken advice from Bill Barnwell.
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What if the Seahawks had fired Pete Carroll and kept Russell Wilson?
Number one, it seems like Wilson wasn’t interested in playing for the Seahawks anymore. Maybe that changes if the Seahawks did actually fire Pete and hire a coach that he would have chosen (like Hackett?), but it seems like they had worked together for the last time at the end of last season no matter what.
If Seattle had chosen to fire Pete and start over with a new philosophy under the leadership and guidance of Wilson, the Seahawks wouldn’t have Charles Cross right now. They most likely would have had to work something out with Duane Brown, who is currently on IR for the New York Jets.
There can be debate about what the Seahawks would have then done with their original second round pick. Would they have taken Abe Lucas a round earlier to assure themselves a tackle since Cross wasn’t going to be in Seattle in that case? Would they have stuck with Boye Mafe? Would they have upset even more people by picking Ken Walker before choosing a tackle or edge rusher? Or more likely, knowing that Pete is not there, the Seahawks choose a completely different player than anyone currently on the roster.
And this is one hell of a damn dang darn draft class that Pete Carroll selected.
We will never know, but if the Seahawks had fired Pete and kept Russ, they wouldn’t have had the Broncos first and second round picks.
The Seahawks were not in the middle of a firesale when they traded Wilson to the Broncos. They had one player who didn’t want to be there anymore and they had an offer from Denver that was “too good to pass up”. One player requesting to be traded doesn’t force a team into a rebuild, even if that player is a good quarterback. Especially when the team making the trade acquires three veteran players and two immediate draft picks, one of which is high enough to almost guarantee a Week 1 starter.
If Wilson was on the Seahawks today, he may well still be dealing with the exact same injuries that he has right now. Without a smoking gun injury moment to point to this year, it seems like these are falling under the “wear and tear” category instead. Seattle could have an offense with Wilson at quarterback, Stone Forsythe at LT (Brown is hurt, remember?), and DeeJay Dallas starting at running back (because Walker was never drafted).
It’s like that picture from Back to the Future when Marty’s brother and sister are starting to fade out of existence. That’s where the Seahawks offense could be right now if they had decided to instead go with Hackett as the head coach and Wilson as the quarterback. The same formula that is plaguing the Broncos this season, a team without a first or second round pick in 2023 to start plugging the leaks.
Imagine thinking that the Seahawks were a “very compelling case” for the worst offseason. And not, perhaps, the team on the jersey that Wilson is wearing in the article photo:
Instead of having John Schneider as the GM, Pete Carroll as the head coach, and a $3.5 million Geno Smith at quarterback, the Seahawks might have some other GM (who defers to Wilson), Hackett as the head coach, and a quarterback demanding to be the richest player in the league. If Seattle didn’t extend Wilson, as the Broncos did, would he be asking for a trade at this very moment?
If not, the Seahawks might well end up trading Wilson in 2023—setting back the organization at least one full year from where they are today and for less of a return than two firsts and two seconds. And keeping Wilson, firing Pete, and undoing basically every move by Seattle this year is essentially what a lot of people believed (and probably continue to believe) is what should have happened.
Instead, the Broncos took on Wilson, sacrificed four premium draft picks (at this point it could be two top-10 picks and two early second round picks), extended Wilson, and decided that at worst they could be an average team in 2022 that grabs the final pieces to the puzzle in 2023. Not a lot of people were sold on the Broncos being one quarterback away from a Super Bowl, I’ll admit, but Denver doesn’t make this trade and Wilson doesn’t agree to it if both sides aren’t assuming that they’re much closer than the Seahawks.
The Broncos lost starting left tackle Garret Bolles (similar to the hypothetical Duane Brown-back-to-Seattle scenario) for the season. They’ve lost starting running back Javonte Williams for the season, another parallel to the Seahawks and their own situation with Rashaad Penny. They put their top free agent, Randy Gregory, on IR, as well as Tim Patrick, Ronald Darby, and Tom Compton.
Despite adding Wilson to the offense, Jerry Jeudy (17 catches for 290 yards on 36 yargets), K.J. Hamler (109 yards in five games), and Albert Okwuegbunam (benched, on the trade block) continue to be draft disappointments. Melvin Gordon has fumbling issues. Wilson isn’t as mobile as he once was and he’s not seeing the middle of the field.
No different than it was in Seattle, fans are begging for ownership to blame and fire the head coach. Potentially even signaling that the new owners could see fit to make Hackett a one-and-done, if it saves them some embarassment from a poor start to the Wilson era.
If the Seahawks had fired Pete Carroll
Let’s get one thing straight: Tariq Woolen is a PETE CARROLL PICK. Through and through.
If the Seahawks had held onto Russell Wilson, they could be worse than their current 3-3 record. The offense could be worse than eighth in scoring. The quarterback could have worse numbers than Geno Smith’s surprising start to the season. DK Metcalf’s contract could be on hold as the team decides to “wait-and-see” if they can still make it work under the cap after extending Wilson. He could have demanded a trade, like buddy A.J. Brown, if that was the case. Ken Walker III could be playing for the Commanders instead of starting for Seattle this Sunday in Los Angeles. Charles Cross might be playing for the Saints—he definitely wouldn’t be on the Seahawks. Seattle could be aiming for the number one pick in the draft, if Wilson were to be injured after a 2-4 start, instead of vying for positioning in the NFC West. They wouldn’t have Denver’s first and second round picks, that’s for sure. Maybe the Seahawks, worried they didn’t do enough for Wilson, would have even already traded their 2023 first round pick to get veteran help like Hollywood Brown.
And the Seahawks probably wouldn’t have Tariq Woolen.
What do you think? Now can we make a very compelling case that the Denver Broncos—not the Seahawks—had the worst offseason?