Seahawks are Russell Wilson’s team in more ways than one

SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 31: Quarterback Russell Wilson (Photo by Otto Greule Jr /Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 31: Quarterback Russell Wilson (Photo by Otto Greule Jr /Getty Images) /

Sure, the Seahawks wouldn’t be as successful this decade without Russell Wilson. But clearly the team values Wilson much more than some other players.

Locker rooms in sports can be cliquish things. How players get along when no one else is really watching can determine whether a team wins or loses and can also continue or doom a team’s long term success. In the Seahawks case, the team clearly needs Russell Wilson more than it wants other players.

This could be good or it could be bad. No company or franchise wants a team of “yes” men or women. That doesn’t help grow the franchise and get the best out of the players. For better or worse, and a lot of times for the better, a team needs an important player to call out others or complain about execution.

Doug Baldwin did this. But it seems he was not the best of friends with Wilson off the field. Does that matter? Not really. But Baldwin was among a group of friends in Seattle that slowly, one by one, left the team. Before Baldwin gave up football after suffering so many different injuries in 2018, he saw former teammate, college teammate and friend Richard Sherman leave the team. So did Michael Bennett. And Marshawn Lynch before that.

Sherman had to go. Unlike Baldwin, Sherman could be seen and heard both on the field and off the field complaining about the direction of the offense. He had become a cancer on the team. Sherman, of course, was a cornerback and didn’t play offense. That is an important distinction.

While Baldwin could be critical at times of the offense, he never crossed over to the defense. He could have because the 2018 Seahawks defense wasn’t really very good. At least not compared to previous versions. Baldwin made the offense and Russell Wilson better because his critiques were not without merit.

It is likely that one of Baldwin’s reasons for not playing anymore is that he simply had fewer friends on the team. Seattle had evolved completely into Russell Wilson’s team. Like general manager John Schneider says, the NFL is all about the coach and quarterback relationship on each team. Pete Carroll is great. So is Wilson. Baldwin, while an important leader, is simply a replaceable receiver.

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So are the Seahawks long-term better off without Baldwin and Sherman and Bennett and Lynch? Maybe. The team can live without all of them on the field. But Baldwin will be missed when it comes to someone holding Wilson accountable. Will Pete Carroll do that? We don’t know. But the keys to the franchise have been handed completely now to Wilson. He knows it. And the hope is he drives the franchise straight to a few Super Bowls.