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Bobby Wagner insists Russell Wilson drama was ‘overblown’, but was it?

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson went public with some criticism of how the team is run earlier this offseason, but All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner downplayed the controversy and implied nothing has gone awry in the Emerald City.

Speaking to USA Today‘s Nate Davis, Wagner insisted Wilson was just venting some frustration about not winning the Super Bowl, and that the media ran with the narrative that the QB wanted out:

“I think, honestly, it’s part of how the league works. If you lose and don’t go to the big game, they always try to figure out what went wrong, what happened. […] I think after Russell made a couple of those comments, I think it was an opportunity for a lot of people to run with it. I definitely feel like it was a little overblown, but it’s all water under the bridge now.”

Over the past six seasons, the Seahawks have failed to go deeper than the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs. Little of that can be pinned on Wilson, who’s overcome conservative play-calling and lackluster pass protection to keep Seattle in virtually every game it plays.

Considering that Wilson was rumored to go to the Seahawks’ brass with a list of preferred trade destinations, and the Chicago Bears made a substantial offer before going on to draft Justin Fields, this feels like more of a smoke/fire situation than Wagner is letting on.

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Wagner entered the league with Wilson as part of a now-legendary 2012 Seattle draft class. He’s consistently been among the elite players at his position, just as Wilson has, for almost a decade now. It makes sense to go in full PR damage control mode to present a united Seahawks front.

You can’t blame Wagner for having Wilson’s back and defending Seattle’s phenomenal field general, but the reality is, there was palpable tension this offseason that even casual fans could feel from afar.

And look what arose as a result of Wilson voicing his concerns: The Seahawks upgraded their offensive line by trading for Gabe Jackson. Despite having an excellent wide receiver duo of Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf, Seattle made something of a surplus second-round draft pick in Western Michigan wideout D’Wayne Eskridge.

Seahawks GM John Schneider poached a couple new starters from the NFC West rival San Francisco 49ers in cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon and defensive end Kerry Hyder. Schneider tends to be proactive on the transaction wire, but he really did a fine job shoring up multiple areas of the roster and built on the strength of the receiving corps.

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Russell Wilson’s bad 2nd half of 2020 led to a long-awaited OC change

Jan 9, 2021; Seattle, Washington, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) slides after a run while being pursued by Los Angeles Rams linebacker Leonard Floyd (54) during the fourth quarter at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The famous “Let Russ Cook” movement transpired to start the 2020 campaign, as Wilson surged to the front of the MVP conversation amid a 6-1 start. He had an underwhelming outing against the eventual AFC finalist Buffalo Bills, and struggled versus the Los Angeles Rams’ stacked No. 1 defense.

From there, it was back to unreasonable conservatism under the guidance of offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, who’s successfully wasted multiple years of Wilson’s prime on antiquated schemes. At long last, head coach Pete Carroll saw a change was necessary, and Schottenheimer was fired.

It’s unreal how long Schottenheimer was in charge of the play sheet, especially since he’s so averse to quarterbacks calling audibles on his precious play calls. Wilson clearly got his way when Schottenheimer was shown the door, and that couldn’t have happened fast enough, really.

This narrative that the Seattle defense carried the team in the second half of last season is false, by the way. The offense declined because of Schottenheimer’s, um, stubbornness or refusal to make competent adjustments.

Wagner and the Seahawks faced a world-beating lineup of opposing QBs down the stretch that consisted of the following: Carson Wentz, Daniel Jones, Sam Darnold, Dwayne Haskins, Jared Goff, and C.J. Beathard. Many of those matchups were closer than they needed to be, considering the disparity between Wilson and his counterparts.

Bobby Wagner and Russell Wilson need to keep on keeping it real for Seahawks to win another Super Bowl

Bobby Wagner and Russell Wilson need to keep on keeping it real for Seahawks to win another Super Bowl
Nov 8, 2020; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Seattle Seahawks middle linebacker Bobby Wagner (54) jogs on the field prior to the game against the Buffalo Bills at Bills Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Sometimes you need to save face publicly. Tom Brady is the king of avoiding media controversy, because he admittedly doesn’t say what he’s thinking 90% of the time.

In all likelihood, Wilson is wishing he hadn’t said anything to the public based on the media circus that ensued this offseason. However, he also doesn’t have seven Super Bowls like TB12 does. He has one, and is disappointed about it.

By all accounts, Wilson and Wagner are great leaders, yet they can’t keep going around like everything is fine when it’s not. They’re well-established superstars at this point and are the heart and soul of their teams on offense and defense.

It’s no longer time to play nice. The NFC West is the best in all of football, and while the Seahawks are making strides in distancing themselves from the old-school tendencies of Carroll, they need to make something happen now while Seattle still has enough star power to compete for championships.

With Wilson under center, the Seahawks are always going to have at least a puncher’s chance. However, it’s key for the QB and Wagner to speak up when something’s not right.

Otherwise, a similar narrative will play out to the one Aaron Rodgers is living with the Green Bay Packers: A great career, but lacking that second Super Bowl to cement an all-time great legacy.

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