Russell Wilson’s slump isn’t because he’s missing Duane Brown
Russell Wilson’s slump has nothing to do with Duane Brown. But it may just have a bit to do with another player on the Seahawks offensive line.
About a week ago, I wrote an article about the second-half slump that the Seahawks star has been going through. No, I’m not talking about Blitz; that’s one Hawk who’s always on point. It isn’t easy to admit, but Russell Wilson has been seriously off his game the past several weeks. One diehard 12 wrote that this isn’t on Number 3 at all. It’s all about Duane Brown’s injury, and Wilson missing the protection of the Hawks best lineman. That makes a lot of sense until you actually look at the game logs. Brown isn’t the issue, but another lineman might be part of it.
To very briefly recap, DangeRuss topped a passer rating of 100 in eight of the first nine games this season. In fact, he was over 130 in five of those contests including the last two. I will point out that Brown missed the Ravens game, the only one of that stretch that saw Wilson play poorly. He also missed the game prior, in Cleveland. Russell Wilson played well, but it was one of the four games in which he didn’t hit a passer rating over 130. Two points in favor of the Duane Brown theory.
The problem is that the big man didn’t miss a snap in the first tilt against the 49ers. That was the game that kicked off Wilson’s slump. Sure, the Niners have a solid defense and that had an awful lot to do with Number Three’s performance. But what happened against the Eagles? Wilson played even worse against them, and Brown was in for every snap. Philadelphia tallied six sacks on the day, and they only have 39 on the year. That’s less than two and a half per game, until they met the turnstile of the Seahawks offensive line.
Wilson played better against the Vikings, although he didn’t quite hit a passer rating of 100. As a brief aside, I’m well aware that Russell Wilson can win big games with a low passer rating. But it is a handy tool to compare overall performances. And no one in their right mind would say he’s played as well in the second half of the season as he did in the first.
DangeRuss was less than formidable versus the Rams. Brown was in on every snap again. Wilson destroyed the Panthers, but then came crashing back to earth last week against the Cardinals. Yes, Duane Brown did miss that game. When your left tackle plays every snap of five-game stretch that sees your quarterback playing below his usual level in four of those contests, you can’t point to the left tackle’s absence in the sixth game as the problem.
Brown has been fighting a couple of injuries, that’s absolutely true. Has that hampered him, and in turn hampered Wilson? I have no doubt that’s part of the issue but just a small part. Another member of the offensive line has been out for almost the entire run of Wilson’s comparatively poor performance though. Please note, I said comparatively, and I’m comparing Russell Wilson to his own brilliance in the first half of the season. That player would be center Justin Britt.
Britt went down for the season in Week 8, early in the game against the Falcons. I’m not saying Britt was having a Pro Bowl season, because he wasn’t. I’m not saying Joey Hunt is bad, either. But there’s a reason Britt starts ahead of Hunt, right? It isn’t just Hunt’s play; it’s that the offensive line functions as a unit. You substitute one piece for another, and the unit has to compensate for that change.
The bottom line for me is that it isn’t just Duane Brown battling injuries or Justin Britt being on the shelf. Wilson has missed far too many open receivers in the second half of the year that he would have practically hand-delivered the ball to in the first. He got the ball to Tyler Lockett just once in eight attempts last week. When has that ever happened? Even in the worst nightmare, Lockett is going to come down with half of those balls.
No, I still think something is physically wrong with Wilson. He’s too much of a professional to pack it in, because he knows he gives the Seahawks their best chance to win, even if he isn’t at 100 percent. I’ll take Russell Wilson at whatever he can give, because I know it will be 100 percent of what he has in the tank.