Seahawks Determined to Not Let Russ Cook

Russell Wilson.
Russell Wilson. / Steph Chambers/Getty Images

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson set new career-highs in virtually every statistical category this NFL season. Despite that success, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll made it clear he is determined to reel in the aerial attack and get back to what was their bread and butter during their Super Bowl run.

In his end-of-the-year press conference, Carroll said the Seahawks' primary focus going into next season will be running the ball more often and more effectively than they did in 2020. That stands in stark contrast to the now-trademarked, by Wilson, catchphrase "Let Russ Cook," but nevertheless represents a return to the smash-mouth football that got Wilson his only Super Bowl title back in 2013.

"“We have to run the ball better. Not even run the ball better, run it more.""

Pete Carroll

This year, the Seahawks rushed the ball on average 25.6 times per game, which was 18th in the league, and finished with 1,971 total rushing yards, which was 12th in the NFL. In 2013 when they won the Super Bowl, they were No. 2 in the NFL with 31.8 rushing attempts per game and No. 5 with 2,188 total yards on the season. The following year, when they lost to the Patriots in the Super Bowl, they were No. 2 in attempts (32.7) and No. 1 in yards (2,762).

Since 2014, the Seahawks have fluctuated between being pass-first and run-first. They slipped all the way to No. 22 in rushing yards in 2017, but were No. 1 in rushing in 2018 and No. 4 in 2019. Wilson, meanwhile, has been a model of consistency, throwing for at least 31 touchdowns in each of the last four seasons and reaching a new high with 40 this year. However, in order to for defenses to do what they want, the Seahawks believe they need to get back to a run-first mentality.

In the same press conference, Carroll admitted he knew fans wouldn't like this approach but mentioned the abundance of two-deep safety schemes as a reason he wants to get back to running more often. He said he wants to dictate to the defense when they pass, not the other way around. That makes sense. Pull the safeties in closer to the line of scrimmage and then go over the top at your leisure. But if Carroll wants to make running a priority, the Seahawks have to back it up on the personnel side.

Top running backs Chris Carson and Carlos Hyde are both free agents this offseason. Carroll called re-signing Carson a "huge priority" and said "we are trying to get him back" about Hyde. The problem is Carson has never played a full season because of various injuries and Hyde, now 30, isn't a No. 1 back. Quite frankly, that one-two punch pales in comparison to the likes of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Throw in the fact that the Seahawks haven't picked an offensive lineman in the first two rounds of the draft since 2017 and you can see they have work to do to build an offense that mirrors what they did in their heyday.

It's a dilemma of the first order for the Seahawks. On the one hand you have a star in Wilson coming off the best year of his career in a pass-first league. On the other you have the reality that Wilson struggled late in the year against better teams and the fact that the Seahawks won a Super Bowl recently based on a rush-first mentality. It appears Carroll is leaning toward the latter way of thinking, which could lead to more wins, but also means chef Russell Wilson will be doing less cooking in 2021.