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Fans push to ‘let Russ cook,’ but Seahawks’ Brian Schottenheimer says it’s not that simple

UPDATED: Tue., Aug. 25, 2020

Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer walks with quarterback Russell Wilson during training camp earlier this month in Renton, Wash.  (Ted S. Warren/Associated Press)
Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer walks with quarterback Russell Wilson during training camp earlier this month in Renton, Wash. (Ted S. Warren/Associated Press)
By Bob Condotta Seattle Times

RENTON, Wash. – Just like everyone else who is a Seahawks player, coach or fan, Brian Schottenheimer wishes the team didn’t have to climb out of as many first-half holes to win games as it did a year ago.

Seattle was outscored 91-77 in the first quarter last season, and quarterback Russell Wilson led the NFL with four fourth-quarter winning drives and five game-winning drives.

To many fans, the fix is simple – just “Let Russ Cook!!!” from the opening snap.

Wilson gently added to the debate earlier in camp when he reeled off an oft-cited stat – that Seattle is 57-0 including playoffs since 2012 when it goes into halftime with a lead of four points or more.

“Let’s treat every quarter as the fourth,” said Wilson, undoubtedly cognizant of the fact that Seattle last year scored 126 points in the fourth quarter, 49 more than it did in the first (though to be fair, most teams tend to score more points in the second and fourth quarters than in the first and third).

But asked about the 57-0 stat Tuesday and Wilson’s comment, Schottenheimer repeated a version of what he’s said before when asked about the team’s overall offensive strategy, stating starting faster isn’t just a matter of throwing more or earlier.

“We all know Russ is an elite player,” Schottenheimer said. “We all know that. I’ve been blessed. I’ve had some great ones (having also coached the likes of Drew Brees and Philip Rivers) and I’m not saying who is the best. But he’s a great, elite football player and want him to be involved. We want him to impact the game early. We want to start faster. But how does that look each and every week? We don’t know that. It all depends on the opponent we are playing.

“If Russ can impact the game for us, we are going to win a lot of games, which is what we have been able to do. It doesn’t mean he has to throw the ball 50 yards down the field to DK (Metcalf) to do that. It doesn’t mean he has to scramble around and run for his life and make plays. It could be him checking out of a bad play that I called. He does that a lot. I call bad plays and he’s like, ‘This ain’t going to work,’ and he gets us out of it.

“Again, we recognize how lucky and fortunate we are to have this type of quarterback, and being around him now, going into year three (with Schottenheimer as offensive coordinator) there’s really nothing he can’t do. He’s terrific. But how that looks each and every week, that remains to be seen based on the opponent that we are playing and what does each situation look like. Those are lots of factors that sometimes don’t get talked about.”

Schottenheimer’s answer was much more expansive than that of coach Pete Carroll on Saturday, when he was asked about the “Let Russ Cook” debate, a phrase that first came to live via Seahawks fans on Twitter.

“We’re just going to hammer the rock,” Carroll said. “That’s all we’re doing around here, hammering the rock.”

Carroll then allowed that “we’re going to give him every opportunity to kick butt. You’re going to have to wait and see what that all means.”

Given that Carroll has a pretty time-tested offensive strategy and hired Schottenheimer in 2018 in part because he had lots of experience in similar offenses, the Seahawks are unlikely to deviate greatly in terms of overall run-pass numbers (Seattle last year ranked 27th in the NFL in pass-to-run ratio, passing on 54.34% of plays. Atlanta was the leader at 66.97, according to TeamRankings.com).

“We know what a great player Russ is,” Schottenheimer said. “And you can expect him to impact the game early on in every game, hopefully.”

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