Here’s how dialed back the Seahawks offense has been: To keep QB Russell Wilson from further harm, Seahawks coaches were threatening to hurt him more if he left the pocket than if he stayed put and was clobbered again.
But he was smiling when he told about the conversation he had with QB coach Carl (Tater) Smith. It followed Wilson’s week-one ankle injury that began a cascade of events that have helped keep the Seahawks offense moribund — one touchdown in the past 23 possessions.
“He said he was going to put a shock collar on me anytime I left the pocket the first few weeks,” Wilson told reporters Friday. “We could still win without me just running it, or whatever. We were able to do that. We’re 4-2-1.
“They tried to talk to me about the idea of not playing. There was no chance. I was playing. There was no chance I wasn’t playing. That was kind of my thought process.”
In fact, if the perilous tactic of letting a limited Wilson play through his hurts ultimately produces a playoff berth and a home field advantage or two, the Seahawks can consider themselves one of the luckiest teams since Lewis & Clark.
Both coach Pete Carroll and line coach Tom Cable used the word “fortunate” this week to describe the club’s situation. They are playing at a little better than 50 percent and have a lead in a division, the NFC West, that has become craptastic.
“The cool thing about the NFL is that you have this long season, and we’re fortunate enough to be where we’re sitting,” Cable said. “If we can pick this up and gain momentum through the season, coming into November, we should be a very good team.”
Only two teams have fewer touchdowns than the Seahawks’ 13, and both Baltimore and Houston are at the bottom of their divisions. But in the NFC West, where a good offense is rare as a Bill Belichick smile, no one else has a winning record as the midseason point arrives this weekend.
Wilson, who insisted after every game that he was fine, even though small children with poor eyesight could see he wasn’t, got around to being a little more honest about his condition.
“So week two, week three, week four, it was really tough to be: ‘OK, I need to be smart here,” he said, referring to his decisions to avoid running. “I didn’t have quite as much explosiveness and all that kind of stuff, getting out of cuts and making moves.”
Wilson’s lateral quickness and reverse-pivot moves, gifts that have left pass rushers weeping for four years, weren’t available. Not only has that made him easier to catch, Wilson’s consciousness about his limitations have forced him into some passing inaccuracy, as well as turning into tacklers instead of away.
“I’ve been having to play with some tough injuries,” he said. “I haven’t been able to run as fast as I normally can. But definitely getting there. That’s for sure.”
Whether he gets “there” this season is an open question, since it may be that the ankle and knee sprains won’t fully recover until an off-season that includes rest. But he did say he played last week with a smaller titanium knee brace that’s lighter.
Asked if he will wear the brace all season, he said, “I’m always big into the safety aspect of it. I think it’s probably smart to wear one. I may take it off, who knows. I could probably honestly go without it, but I’m not sure if that’s a smart decision right now.”
As with his teammates and coaches, Wilson repeated the theme of the week: Penalties have as much to do with the offensive doldrums as injuries to him or RB Thomas Rawls.
“You think back to the Rams game,” he said. “We had two or three huge pass plays called back and made it first and 20 or first and 25, whatever it was. That makes it really tough.”
Playing the what-if game, if the two big offensive pass interference calls against Seattle in the Rams game went uncalled, and the two pick plays by the Saints offense that led directly to 10 points were instead flagged, the Seahawks could be 6-0-1.
But the Seahawks have gotten away with their share as well. The what-if game is a loser’s lament because in all cases, playing closer to potential eliminates the relevance of good or bad officiating calls.
The Seahawks offense, which will likely again start two rookies, Germain Ifedi and George Fant, in the line for the Monday night game against Buffalo (5:30 p.m., ESPN) has been nowhere close to potential.
“I’m feeling the best I’ve felt since week one, so that’s a good thing,” Wilson said. “We’re about to hit a stride.”
He better hope it happens Monday, or it’s shock collars for everyone.
RB Troymaine Pope rejoins Seahawks
A player who was a hit in training camp, 5-foot-9 RB Troymaine Pope of little Jacksonville State, rejoined the Seahawks on the practice squad after being cut Tuesday by the New York Jets.
An undrafted free agent signed in August, Pope gained 162 yards in 24 carries in the preseason, but was cut in favor of fifth-round pick Alex Collins. The Seahawks wanted him for the practice squad, but the Jets took him after he was cut. He had a single run for one yard with the Jets.