It turned out to be nothing. But at CenturyLink Field on Sunday afternoon, for about 30 minutes, 69,000 people sat on their hands, hearts in their throats.
Russell Wilson was down. Then he was up. Then, he was a shell of himself.
As we were witness to, after yet another game-winning drive, Wilson -- barring any setbacks -- will be fine. His ankle, although precariously situated underneath the weight of Ndamukong Suh, made it through and will live to see another day.
But for the Seahawks and GM John Schneider, every move from this day forward must be in preparation for the worst. Because even with Wilson limited to one ankle, there was nowhere to turn. Not to Trevone Boykin, the lone QB on the roster besides Wilson, who, as an undrafted rookie could be a catastrophe. Not to a veteran backup, destined to hold a clipboard until times get rough.
It was a disturbing reality for a Seattle team, hell-bent on a Super Bowl return, that the fate of their entire offense rests on the health of one man.
Yes, they have their all-world defense. No, that won’t be enough.
The offense, which relies heavily on sleight of hand and Wilson’s ability to improvise, crumbled after his injury transformed him into a lavish statue. Thanks to inept coaching on the part of the Dolphins -- who, for whatever reason, did not blitz Wilson on every play -- the Seahawks were able to tread water long enough to survive.
According to Pro Football Focus, Wilson recorded a 95.7 passer rating when the Dolphins did not apply pressure.
To make matters worse Seattle’s offensive line, young and unproven entering the season, did absolutely nothing to assuage the fears that they won’t be able to protect Wilson, or open holes for Thomas Rawls and Christin Michael. Only left tackle Gary Gilliam managed to post a positive grade (79.8), and Bradley Sowell and J'Marcus Webb were simply atrocious; each surrendered two QB hurries and recorded 46.6 and 40.7 grades, respectively, according to PFF.
Add it up, and your entire season is riding on Wilson playing behind a maladroit line.
Schneider and Pete Carroll knew they were rolling the dice this season with the quarterback position. For the first time since he was named the starter in 2012, Wilson was devoid of a heady, veteran backup. But more than having a player they could turn to in times of crisis – if Wilson were to miss extended time, for example – the Seahawks appear to be lacking a player they can turn to for any time.
When Wilson hopped off the turf and looked to the sideline, you could see in his face he needed out. The next play? A handoff. The one after that? A flat-footed throw, no zip. Without the ability to plant, or throw on the run, Wilson was missing the most important tool in his arsenal: the threat of the run. After the game, in a press conference lock-jawed with clichés, Wilson told those gathered that he doesn’t like to run, but he knows how it can be used to his advantage.
According to ESPN, “Wilson attempted a career-high 43 passes Sunday. It was the first time in his career his team won when he attempted 40 or more passes in a game. Wilson averaged 6.0 yards per attempt Sunday, a lower figure than he had in any game last season. Part of the reason was that Wilson's average pass traveled 4.7 yards downfield, the third-shortest of his career.”
He attempted those passes out of necessity. And when he is forced to be a stabilizing pocket-passer, he struggles mightily.
The Monday of Week 1 is often referred to as “Over Reaction Monday,” and for good reason. Fan bases across the country, those happy and those sad, woke up today with the thought that their team is better than they originally envisioned. Or, they're worse. That’s up for water-cooler debate. But for Seahawks fans, one glaring truth lies before them:
Their team is good. Really good. But he could be gone in an instant, incapacitated on the field, without a soul behind him to help.