Russell Wilson is entering his fourth season with the Seattle Seahawks. Unless something unexpected happens here in the next week, Wilson will also be entering his contract year. There is reason to suspect that he’ll be looking to pad his stats to help himself secure a big new contract.
While that isn’t an unreasonable assumption, it also isn’t very likely. Wilson and Seattle’s offense are tightly controlled. His number of pass attempts will be kept down and in alignment with Pete Carroll’s game philosophy.
The past predicts the future
Wilson’s stats have been amazingly stable in his three years in the league. So much so in fact, that researching this article caused me to ask if Russell Wilson had actually improved since joining the Seahawks.
As you can see, Wilson’s numbers are rather flat. He did have a decent uptick in his pass attempts last season, but some of that was out of necessity. The Seahawks played from behind in more games than in the previous two seasons.
There is no reason to expect another significant bump in his pass attempts unless the defense is suddenly much weaker than is expected. There also doesn’t seem to be any reason to expect Wilson’s yards per attempt to move significantly away the 8 ypa in either direction.
The one area where we can expect an increase in Wilson production is in his passing touchdowns. He’s been without a real read zone weapon for the last two seasons. That won’t be the case this season now that Jimmy Graham is on the roster.
The Seahawks didn’t acquire Jimmy Graham to exclude to just run the ball, did they?
As hard as it may be to believe, the answer is “yes.” The Seahawks aren’t going to change their offensive identity simply because they acquired one player.
They’re a run-first team. They’re going to remain a run-first team until either Pete Carroll retires or the running game stops working. The Seahawks aren’t going to become a pass-happy team. That simply isn’t who they are.
This is a similar situation to what happened when the Seahawks acquired Percy Harvin. While the Seahawks altered what pass plays they called, they didn’t call more of them. The same should be true with Graham.
What about rushing yards?
Wilson had a bit of a down year passing in 2014 as the talent level of his receiving weapons took a dramatic dip. He made up for that by becoming a much more effective runner.
It is notable that Wilson didn’t run significantly more last season. He simply did a better job of picking his spots and getting yards when he did run. Baring injury, there is no reason to suspect that him will slow down much.
It probably isn’t reasonable to suspect that Wilson will get 850 rushing yards again. It also wouldn’t be reasonable to suggest that he’s going to be below 500 either.
Let’s talk numbers
450 pass attempts, 8 yards per attempt: that’s 3,600 yards. It would be nice to predict a 4,000 yard season for Wilson, but that doesn’t seem realistic here. He’s certainly capable, but Carroll’s philosophy requires sacrificing passing yards for time of possession and ball security.
One the ground, 500-550 yards is the sweet spot. Wilson should be running less than last year now that he has better weapons in the passing game.
Predicting Wilson’s touchdowns is a more difficult matter. Until we see how teams defend against Graham it’ll be tough to determine if Wilson will get more passing touchdowns, or if Lynch will get more on the ground because defenses are focussed on Graham.
Until then, a safe bet will be 25 TDs for Wilson. It simple doesn’t feel right to predict too many more, or too many less than that.
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