Yes, Russell Wilson admitted Friday, he did throw an opponent’s shoe in last week’s win over the San Francisco 49ers, a toss he explained was intended to get said shoe out of the way because it was in the Seahawks backfield and Seattle was trying to go hurry-up on that drive.
And no, that shoe toss isn’t really relevant this week as the Seahawks prepare to face the Minnesota Vikings, but it is kind of interesting to consider that Wilson has thrown more shoes (1) than interceptions (0) over the Seahawks’ past four games, a stretch in which he has thrown 11 touchdowns and Seattle’s offense been at its best, averaging 32.8 points per game.
Perhaps the two biggest keys to Seattle’s recent offensive success have been the Seahawks’ ability to take care of the football and to also make big plays on offense. Throughout his coaching career, Pete Carroll has preached his “it’s all about the ball” philosophy, but he has never wanted his team’s offenses to sacrifice production for ball security.
And of late, the Seahawks have found a way to be very explosive on offense while still taking care of the ball. Over their last four games, three of them wins, the Seahawks have produced 44 explosive plays on offense (passes of 16 or more yards or rushes of 12 or more) the most in the NFL during that span. As a result, the Seahawks are averaging 2.98 points per drive over their past four games, the second-best mark in the league behind New Orleans.
“When we’ve been good in the past, it has been like that, we’ve been in double digits in explosives,” Carroll said. “We’ve always been a good explosive team when we’re running the football. It’s not just the throwing game, but it certainly does help us in the throwing game. It’s been a factor that we’ve always counted on. As a matter of fact, it wasn’t clear earlier in the season and we’ve kind of caught up and got it going. We’ve been able to play off the run game and maximize. Eleven a game is pretty darn good when you can keep it steady like that. I don’t think anybody’s probably done any better than that. That’s the standard that we’re shooting for.”
The Seahawks have been that explosive over the last month while committing just two turnovers, continuing their season-long trend of taking care of the football—the Seahawks have committed a league-low nine turnovers this year, and only four in their last 10 games. Everyone on the offense contributes to that low total, whether it’s one of the most sure-handed receiving groups in the NFL or the running backs taking care of the ball or the offensive line protecting Wilson, but no single player has more influence over how much a team does or doesn’t turn the ball over than the quarterback, who handle the ball on every play and makes decisions that can make the difference between a big gain and an interception.
And over the course of his career, Wilson has been one of the best in the league at finding that balance between making explosive plays and still taking care of the ball. With five interceptions through 12 games, Wilson is on pace to finish with a single-digit interception total for the fourth time in seven seasons, and he has never thrown more than 11 in a season. And Wilson isn’t sacrificing productivity in the name of ball security—he has 29 touchdown passes, putting him on pace to break his own franchise single-season record of 34. He's also averaging a career-best 8.3 yards per attempt while posting the highest passer rating (115.5) and touchdown percentage (8.9) of his career, and the the second-highest completion percentage (66.6), just behind the 68.1 mark he had in 2015.
“He’s got great awareness,” Carroll said. “You have to have phenomenal awareness and conscience and he knows how we play and he understands what I’m saying. He bought in from the first time he was with us, he bought in to the philosophy and approach. He’s championed it forever and he’s been phenomenal at it. He evaluates really well. He doesn’t put the ball in problem areas—rarely does he do that. It’s just part of his makeup. It’s something we’ve grown to count on.”
For Wilson, success lies in finding the balance between being aggressive yet still smart with his decision-making.
“You really want to be in attack mode,” Wilson said. “I love watching basketball, right? You can’t have any fear of taking a shot. I think in baseball, you can’t be afraid to take a swing when it’s a 3-2 count. You’ve just got to go for it, and you’ll never hit a home run if you don’t swing. I think that’s part of it. I do think, too, you want to be able to swing at the right pitches. There’s this interesting balance and as you play games, I’ve been fortunate to play over 100-plus games in the NFL and 50-plus in college and everything else, and so being able to know the balancing act of the games and situations and when to go for it and everything else. I think that’s been part of our success in terms of our whole entire offense, is guys are doing a great job on the fundamentals of high-and-tight, transitioning, being aggressive to the football, and making plays. Those receivers, they make me look good. I mean, those guys are making a lot of great plays and it’s fun to watch.”
Practice photos from the Seahawks' Thursday workout at Virginia Mason Athletic Center ahead of Monday's game against the Minnesota Vikings.