Russell Wilson's Last Ride?
Entering the 2020 season, the Seattle Seahawks were coming off of back-to-back early playoff exits in which it seemed that Pete Carroll refused to acknowledge his team's relative strengths. While reality suggested a team that should lean on its quarterback to win shootout-oriented games, Carroll was managing games as if he still had a good defense. Sure, there were some defensive pieces around—Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Quandre Diggs, and the newly acquired Jamal Adams—but it seemed more likely that if Seattle was going to make a serious run at Super Bowl LV, it was going to be driven by the offense.
Observers were in awe when Carroll and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer appeared to completely change their philosophy through the first half of the season. Russell Wilson and the offense led an all-out aerial assault, and while the team was by no means balanced, they were still winning games. Wilson was dropping back to pass on over 68% of plays through their first eight games—only Kansas City passed more often when the score was within a touchdown—and the Seahawks were averaging over 34 points per game in the process. Up to that point in the year, Wilson was playing like an MVP favorite, and the fans who had been begging the team to lean more on the star quarterback were seemingly vindicated.
Wilson's MVP-level start was absolutely needed for Seattle to succeed early in the year because as overwhelming as the offense was, the defense was similarly impressive for the wrong reasons. Through that same eight-game span, the run defense was playing well, but the pass defense was a major liability, ranking 29th in the league in DVOA. Seattle's struggles were best encapsulated by a Week 9 contest where Buffalo handed the ball off only four times in the first three quarters while the Seahawks offered Josh Allen little resistance. The pass defense's struggles allowed opposing offenses to gobble up yards and put up points in bunches without having to deal with running the ball.
Then some cracks started to show, and the formerly...