Reason No. 1: Russell Wilson, Russell Wilson and Russell Wilson
It’s important to tier quarterbacks. Most of the NFL’s established starters fall somewhere in that middle tier — players who’ll win you games if they have an excellent supporting cast around them.
And then there are the elite ones, who raise the level of play from the guys around them. Only a few belong in this category, such as the Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers, who is the sole reason why his team is a perennial playoff contender each and every year he’s healthy.
Just look at Rodgers’ injury-plagued 2017 campaign last year to see why he’s so important to Green Bay.
Wilson is on the cusp of that elite level. And 2018 will be a true test to see if he belongs in the top tier. The Seahawks defense isn’t the stout force it once was. Yet it’s not a complete liability either, which bodes well for Wilson. Still, Wilson’s playmaking abilities will have to reach unfound heights if Seattle hopes to reclaim the NFC West crown this season.
It’s reasonable to think it happens too.
First, let’s dispel the idea Wilson will struggle with the lack of offensive line protection (if you aren’t convinced already from the previous slide). In 2018, no other quarterback was pressured more than Wilson. His 271 under-pressure dropbacks were most in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus, and yet he still managed an accuracy percentage of 66.5. Rodgers, one of the league’s best QBs operating under pressure, was only two-tenths of a point higher at 66.7.
And if Seattle finds itself in the thick of things during the latter half of the season, that’s good for Wilson too. His career passer ratings in the months of November and December are 102.3 and 101.7, respectively, compared to in the 90s during September and October.
Wilson got by without an established ground attack (other than his own) the last two seasons too. He tossed for over 4,200 yards back in 2016 and nearly hit 4,000 yards again last season, while leading the league in passing touchdowns in 2017 with 34.
Stat-wise, there’s little to deny the idea Wilson could put this team on his shoulders this year. True, the context is entirely different and the supporting cast that made up the Seahawks for much of Wilson’s career has changed significantly.
Still, it’s a bad idea to bet against Wilson. Because of that, and the other reasons listed, it’s perfectly reasonable to see Seattle returning to the top of the NFC West again once this season is finished.