Perhaps Seahawks followers should have recognized the clue.
In his Friday presser before Sunday’s game with the 49ers, coach Pete Carroll declared Russell Wilson healed and ready.
“This is the best he has felt,” he said. “This is eight weeks. We are at eight weeks right now for broken bones. This will be the best he’s been and I’m excited for him to play again.”
The unequivocal medical assessment help create the most high-risk, high-reward game plan of the season, a 30-23 triumph that easily could have been 44-23 had TE Gerald Everett brought his hands to the Loo instead of fry pans.
Carroll dismissed the suggestion he was clairvoyant, relying instead on a good week of practice by Wilson and a nothing-to-lose approach to game-planning, which was easier for him to do at 3-8 instead of 8-3.
“I just thought his body would respond better as he gets more time, barring setbacks,” he said Monday at his video conference. “I don’t think that’s rocket science right there. It logically makes sense that barring setbacks, he would be the strongest, the most flexible, and the most confident.
“It’s not about confidence with Russ. He already is as confident as you can get.”
Is it possible to be too confident?
Since his return from finger surgery for the game at Green Bay, Wilson sounded and acted as if he was all the way back when he clearly wasn’t. His limitation was baked into the Packers game plan when Wilson, to protect his right hand, was ordered to take all snaps from the shotgun and pistol formations and none from under center.
Carroll was influenced by a long ago-episode during his brief tenure in New England when QB Drew Bledsoe played after similar surgery on his index finger, yet played with a pin that held the joint together.
“Every time he took a snap, the pin came out a little bit and he had to push it back in,” Carroll said. “I had that thought in my mind. I didn’t want to put Russ through that. He would have, and could have.”
But the compromise — no under-center snaps takes away the play-action series — that allowed Wilson to return in the shortest possible time (four weeks) didn’t work very well. Here’s the comparison from the two games:
At Green Bay: 20 completions in 40 attempts for 161 yards, two interceptions; three sacks for 28 yards in losses, QB rating 39.7
Vs. 49ers: 30 completions in 37 attempts for 231 yards, two TDs, 1 INT (the Everett goal-line bobble), four sacks for 50 yards in losses, QB rating 99.4.
Wilson’s apparent breakthrough in practice inspired in Carroll a game plan that, for him, was wilder than a Benny Hill skit:
Starting RB Adrian Peterson, 36, after two practices; permitting a fake punt run that went for a 73-yard touchdown; a triple pass among Wilson, DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett (incomplete, but cool); attempting a 56-yard field goal instead of a punt; and passing on an easy FG attempt to run (successfully) on fourth down.
So much of it worked — he even won a replay challenge — because Wilson worked. Using more tempo plays, Wilson completed 19 of 20 quick passes for 145 yards and a TD. That sort of disciplined play impressed Carroll.
“The part that I liked about Russ’s preparation was that he was really clear thinking going in, and wasn’t pressing to make a statement there,” he said. “He was very calm about the game and poised about it. Throughout the whole game he was rock solid.”
Carroll sounded as if he understood the game plan needed to avoid the same-old, same-old that helped hold back the offense.
“I was just looking for opportunities to be clear about our intention and make sure that we weren’t sitting back and kind of waiting for our chances,” he said. “Sometimes you can play the game, hold onto to the rhythm of it, and wait it out. I didn’t want to wait it out in this game.
“I had a lot of respect for (the 49ers). I thought they had a chance to be really explosive on both sides of the football. We needed to be really going for it.”
Naturally, the question is whether Carroll will continue to go for it.
The Seahawks probably could revert to old-school for Sunday’s game in Houston against the 2-10 Texans and get away with it. But since the following week is the season’s second game against the Rams, perhaps going Benny Hill again would give the Rams defense reason to pause.
“You’ll have to just wait and see how we decide,” he said. “We may, we may not. I would say this, it is definitely always in me. I’m fighting the urge always.”
He may as well give in to the urge. It’s the only virtue of being 4-8.