The Elephant in the Locker Room: Is Russell Wilson Playing Injured? Am I Nuts?
By Greg Wright
There are plenty of interesting topics I could be writing about this week.
I could write about how Seattle’s offense will be challenged by the loss of Luke Willson and J.R. Sweezy to concussions.
I could write about Seattle proving me wrong last week and managing to lose to the Rams despite the D giving up only 200 or so yards and winning the time-of-possession battle.
I could write about Seattle ending it’s Wilson-era perfect streak of having a lead in every game, coming just two games shy of four perfect seasons in that regard.
I could write about Pete Carroll’s penchant for really poor choices on challenge flags.
I could write about the Hawks missing out on re-signing Red Bryant, and instead having to face him in Arizona this week. (Or talk about the motivational factor of returning to the scene of the OYFF–One-Yard February Fiasco–which ended the Super Bowl.)
I could write about those things, and others, but most of the really print-worthy topics this week have been thoroughly hashed out elsewhere.
But this column is about the things everyone else is glossing over. So I’d just like to ask the questions: Is Russell Wilson playing hurt? If he is, will it matter?
Consider the following sequence at the close of Seattle’s first drive of the Third Quarter Sunday. On an aborted passing play, Wilson attempted his usual pirouetting escape from on-rushing linemen only to spin directly into the arms of William Hayes. He still almost evaded Hayes, but Eugene Sims piled on to drive Wilson to the turf, directly onto his right kneecap.
Immediately after, Wilson did not bound up from the ground as he is wont to do, though Hayes and Sims did. Nor did he reach up to Sweezy or Bailey for a hand.
Then, uncharacteristically, Wilson grabbed his kneecap with his right hand.
The look on his face even says, “Uh-oh.”
Am I reading waaaayyyy too much into this 10-second sequence? Probably. After all, Wilson threw that magnificent TD pass to Baldwin on the very next play, and his scramble on the TD pass to Kearse at the end of the game was pretty nifty, too.
Still… Wilson did not strike me as entirely comfortable for the remainder of the game after that sack, his timing being just a hair off on several passes that could have been the difference between losing and heading to OT. So I had another look at the second half of the game this week. I didn’t see Wilson limping into the Fourth Quarter, wincing in pain, or engaging in further knee-grabbing.
He did, however, reach down to massage his right quad several times during subsequent drives, something I’ve not noticed him doing before. That, might have just been attempts to wipe rain off the palm his right hand, but I’m thinking not.
Wilson is a tough bird–just like Matt Hasselbeck was with Seattle. And we know for sure that Hasselbeck twice finished out seasons with injuries that he didn’t let on about. It’s quite possible that Wilson’s knee is in fact hurt, but he’s just soldiering through.
What effect would that have, if it were true?
Well, we wouldn’t see Wilson scramble as much (anyone but me notice that in the late going Sunday?), Bevell won’t call many bootleg or read-option plays (check), and Wilson’s accuracy will be a little off because he won’t be able to push off from his throwing leg as well (check).
But those are just the reasons I think he’s playing injured. Sunday was no proof. There were a lot of elements off in that game.
But with the Cardinals’ mad-dogs turned loose on Wilson and Seattle’s short-handed, porous O-line this Sunday, I think we have cause for legitimate concern.
I’ve gotta say, this is gonna be an ugly week. The Hawks will be motivated… but so will the Cardinals. Unless the D can turn in a big-play bonanza this week, Seattle doesn’t stand a chance. The offense is missing too many working parts.
Seattle 18, Arizona 35.
After two Super Bowl appearances in a row, everyone’s paying attention… yet even with all the scrutiny, it seems that there’s always some key issue that’s getting glossed over. It’s the elephant in the locker room, if you will, and gosh darn if I’ll let that ride. Join us on Saturday mornings for a little closer look at our NFC West Champions.