Russell Wilson, Pete Carroll Are Hurtling Toward Divorce After Lost 2021 Season

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistNovember 23, 2021

Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll throws a football before an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021, in Seattle. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)
John Froschauer/Associated Press

Few splits are abrupt. Most of the time, you begin to see cracks, there are sometimes moments of redemption and then the bottom falls out. 

With the Seattle Seahawks, it feels as though the Russell Wilson era is about to collapse, which could result in Wilson and head coach Pete Carroll going their separate ways beyond what increasingly appears to be a lost 2021 season. 

The first major crack, of course, came in February when the seven-time Pro Bowl quarterback said he was "frustrated at getting hit too much." On The Dan Patrick Show, he also expressed a desire to be more involved in personnel decisions. The trade chatter grew from there, and it was only really forgotten when Wilson started the 2021 season splendidly. 

But now? The Seahawks are 3-7, Wilson is coming off the most serious injury of his career, only a handful of quarterbacks with as many starts as him have been under more pressure than he has, and he's posted a horrendous 55.6 passer rating across consecutive back-breaking double-digit-point losses since his return. 

ProFootballTalk @ProFootballTalk

Russell Wilson wanted out of Seattle after a 12-4 season. What’s he going to want after this 3-7 abomination comes to an end?

As for Carroll? He became so frustrated with the state of affairs that he uncharacteristically cut off his postgame press conference Sunday and abruptly left the podium. Carroll being Carroll, he did return and answer more questions from the media, but it was a clear sign there's acrimony in Seattle. 

You have to wonder if Wilson's non-trade request from last offseason will turn into a real trade request next offseason. This will likely be the first losing season of his career, and it will almost surely mark the seventh consecutive season in which the Seahawks have fallen short of the NFC Championship Game. Wilson turns 33 next week and is now a 10-year veteran.

His left tackle, Duane Brown, is 36 and slated to hit free agency in March. Ditto for right tackle Brandon Shell. Oh, and they're without a first-round pick in next year's draft thanks to their 2020 trade for safety Jamal Adams, who has one interception and zero sacks in 10 games this year.

Ben VanHouten/Associated Press

Wilson has been sacked 414 times since coming into the league in 2012—a span during which no other quarterback has taken more than 345 sacks.

And every season feels the same: amazing start leading to steady decline.

In 2019, he posted a 118.2 rating as the Seahawks started 7-2 and then posted a 90.7 rating as they finished 4-3. 

Last year, he was an MVP front-runner as the team started 6-1. He was sacked 2.7 times per game and posted a 120.8 passer rating during that run. After that, he was sacked 3.1 times per game as his rating dropped to 91.8 during Seattle's final nine regular-season games. He then took five sacks and was hit 10 times in the Seahawks' first-round playoff loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

This year, he posted a 129.9 rating in his first four games but has a 63.1 rating ever since.

Nothing's changing, and it's hard to see the team getting away from its frugal habit of bargain-hunting for mediocre veteran offensive linemen who unsurprisingly deliver mediocre results in support of Wilson. 

Could you fault him for deciding he wants to attempt to get back to the Super Bowl in a new setting? The Seahawks don't look remotely like a contender, and there's a strong chance that doesn't change significantly in the months to come. 

And if that happens, would anyone expect the league's oldest head coach to stick around for an inevitable rebuild? It's unlikely Carroll would want anything to do with the post-Wilson era at the age of 70, and Brown probably wouldn't sign on for that either. 

It's easy to see those dominoes falling, quickly. 

Brock Huard @BrockHuard

It’s time for the football people in SEA to be honest about the shortcomings in scheme & personnel. The Seahawks inability to pattern read, cover & finish on D is so, so hard to watch. The Seahawks passivity upfront & hesitancy of Russell is equally challenging to digest.

It's jarring because it wasn't long ago the Seahawks were supposed to be a dynasty. But the offense is broken, and it doesn't deserve the benefit of the doubt considering its failures under Carroll and former coordinator Brian Schottenheimer the last few seasons. They were plagued by a predictable, stale, run-heavy approach then, and little has changed despite some early signs that they'd take off and "let Russ cook" with new coordinator Shane Waldron in 2021.

They still can't convert third downs, and they still can't consistently produce big plays despite Wilson's undeniable talent. 

Of course, some of the blame belongs with Wilson, but it's also true that he'd have more support elsewhere. And we know that in the right environment, he has Super Bowl-level ability. 

Barring an epic turnaround in the weeks to come, don't be surprised if he attempts to make an exit in the new year, or if Carroll does the same.

We may be looking at the fall of an almost-dynasty in the Pacific Northwest. 


Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL for Bleacher Report since 2012. Follow him on Twitter: @Brad_Gagnon.