As Russell Wilson flew into Seattle for the first time as a rookie almost a decade ago, he dreamed not just of becoming the Seahawks starting quarterback, he was already thinking of legend-making stuff.
"The goal was to win multiple championships," Wilson said Thursday. "That's still the same goal."
In only his second season, Wilson helped the Seahawks win their first Super Bowl title, and both he and the team have done some incredible things since, but they have not yet accomplished that goal of multiple championships.
So it's understandable that, as Wilson, who was at Super Bowl LV to be presented with the prestigious Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, sat in a suite at Raymond James Stadium in February watching Tom Brady win his seventh title, some frustration crept in. And ever sense, Wilson has been a man on a mission, focused solely on getting the Seahawks back to the Super Bowl for the first time since the 2014 season.
"I'm excited to be here, be ready to play, and perform," Wilson said. "My standard every day is to win, I wake up every day for that. I wake up every day to put my cleats on and go prepare that way. Waking up at 4:30 a.m. every morning in the offseason is the only option. For me, I'm excited about being with these guys and what we can do. I think that we have a great opportunity to be really special this year. My dad always used to say that potential doesn't mean anything because you haven't done it yet, so we have to do it again and better than we've ever done it before."
To say Wilson is more motivated or more focused on football is a little like saying Pete Carroll is more enthusiastic or Jamal Adams is more fired up about football—it doesn't seem possible—and yet those closest to Wilson have indeed seen him take things up a notch in the buildup to 2021. And one of the key elements of Wilson's excitement for the 2021 season has been the relationship he has built with new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron, the man brought in this offseason tasked with helping take Seattle's offense to new heights after that unit faltered a bit down the stretch last season.
"I think the relationship with what we are doing, and how tuned he is to that, generates another level of excitement from him and for what he's hoping to put out there through his work," Carroll said. "The potential that he can feel by the way we are interacting and communicating can lead us to some really cool stuff and really help our guys maximize what they can bring too. He's got a little special juice about him and that's probably what I am mentioning about the chemistry between he and the coordinator."
And Carroll is also excited about more than just the quarterback-coordinator duo--he's seen things across the board that he likes when evaluating the offense this summer. Though Carroll's thoughts still eventually go back to that Wilson-Waldron connection when he talks about the offense.
"Across the board, I feel like we've solidified guys in spots that we have a real good feel for," Carroll said. "Their uniqueness and what they are bringing to it, whether it's Gerald (Everett) and what we brought in with him, or Gabe (Jackson) coming in to work for us and how he's going to add to it. We will see what (Dee) Eskridge can do as he adds to it. We had a real picture for what he could be and he's given us no reason to think otherwise. He's practiced and prepared really well. Those are the special elements that are uniquely different, but maybe the most special thing about it is, and I'm hoping it shows, the relationship with Shane (Waldron) and Russ (Wilson) and what they have been able to do together to get to this point. The excitement they both feel to turn out this offense and maximize all of the strengths of that. As we learn and as we grow, we will find out how far along we're at. That's something I'm really excited about because that's been really obvious, that there is something going on there and there's chemistry."
When Wilson was asked about Carroll's "special juice" comment, he agreed with his head coach.
"Yeah, I feel it and I'm ready to play," he said. "I know that every day you wake up you get to do something special. God has given me a gift and I want to use it all, and that's the coolest part about what I get to do. At the end of the day, I also know that I lay it on the line every day. I don't think anybody works harder daily mentally and physically on what I'm trying to do. You can set that standard for yourself and I get to choose that every day, it's a choice. Your lifestyle can't be random, it has to be planned out and thought through. The lifestyle has to be winning habits. I just want to bring that to the table every day and not just for me but for this organization, for all of the guys around me, for my family, and for everyone. At the end of the day, I want to put on a show every game, every practice, and every moment.
"I think we're ready and excited to play ball. We are going against a great team, obviously. I'm excited for the season and I'm zoned in."
As for the new offense, no one outside of the organization knows exactly what it will look like—and that's to the Seahawks' advantage to start the year—but from the comments we have heard from players and coaches, it figures to feature balance, a lot of tempo, and at least some elements of Rams system Waldron is coming from. But while there is still plenty of mystery, what's clear is that everyone, Wilson in particular, has been impressed with the team's new coordinator.
"I think he's a wizard, he really understands what he wants to get to," Wilson said. "I think he has a great opportunity to be special in coaching this game for a long time. I think that he's calm, he brings confidence to himself and to the guys… I'm excited to be working with him every day and all of the coaches really. It's going to be a great year."
We won't know until Sunday what Seattle's new offense will look like, and it will really take a full season to come to any real conclusions about it, but if Wilson's "special juice" and Waldron's wizardry can indeed work well together, then Wilson and his teammates might just end up being happier come February.
Photos from Seahawks practice on Thursday, September 9 at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center in Renton.