The Seattle Seahawks are coming off what has to be described as one of the most tumultuous offseasons in recent NFL history.
General manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll pretty much blew up one of the greatest defenses we’ve seen in some time.
By trading Michael Bennett and releasing Richard Sherman, the team made it clear that Russell Wilson was the face of the franchise. By refusing to give Earl Thomas any security beyond the 2018 season, Seattle is guaranteeing that the last remaining member of the Legion of Boom won’t be around for too much longer.
What was the root cause of this mass exodus? What led to the break up of a dynasty that never was?
In a tremendous piece, Greg Bishop and Robert Klemko over at Sports Illustrated detail precisely what happened while making clear that a rift in the locker room between Wilson and Seattle’s once-dominant defense played a major role in what transpired.
“But a dozen sources with direct knowledge of the Seahawks’ internal dynamics who spoke to Sports Illustrated this summer also pointed to a locker room they contend had fractured last season, with private spats spilling into public view and a rift deepening between those who supported Wilson and those who felt the coaches held him to a different standard,” the two noted.
The report went on to indicate that certain unnamed current and former Seahawks players were upset with the special treatment that Wilson received. It also pointed to a quarterback that was not a part of the larger team dynamic.
One particular detail stands out the most.
“When (Tony) McDaniel arrived in Seattle in ’13, he went to dinner with several defensive players and asked them why things seemed off between the defense and the quarterback,” the reported read. “He was told by those players to be careful speaking frankly when Wilson was around, because they believed what they said could wind up on Carroll’s desk.”
Some players describe Wilson as “fragile.” It was a way to respond to Carroll telling the rest of the team not to treat him in the same manner. To go away from the foundation that Carroll himself had built.
“One former Seahawk says he and a handful of teammates speculated that Carroll judged Wilson too emotionally fragile to handle the criticism, be it from them or his coaches.”
An incident during practice back in 2014 paints this dynamic in a broader light. Following an interception of Wilson, then-Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman called the quarterback out in a big way. It led to Carroll bringing the team to the side and telling them to treat Wilson differently. That he was not a part of the larger environment that Carroll had built.
“And we hated that. Any time he f—– up, Pete would never say anything. Not in a team meeting, not publicly, never,” an unnamed player said. “If Russ had a terrible game, he would always talk about how resilient he was. We’re like, what the f— are you talking about?”
There had been rumors that Wilson was somewhat of an outlier. That he did not communicate with teammates off the field. In a way, that he viewed football as a practical initial step in his business aspirations.
Dating back to his days with both North Carolina State and Wisconsin, there were rumors that Wilson wasn’t the traditional team leader. That he saw himself separate from the rest of his teammates. This report seems to magnify that even further.
What does it all mean? Carroll and Schneider chose the franchise quarterback over an aging defense. They did so knowing full well the pressure is on them this season. The backdrop here being a growing divide between Wilson and his teammates.
It will certainly make for an interesting dynamic once the regular season kicks off this weekend.