Seahawks Are Not All-In On Russell Wilson

After Russell Wilson‘s performance yesterday there has been significant hand wringing over his future at the position. That’s actually a step up from having the majority of the fan base looking for Matt Flynn to start as soon as possible.

But somehow, over the course of the first five weeks of the season, Matt Mikolas and I have totally reversed our opinions on Wilson’s viability as a starter. (Twitter war included)

Before Wilson’s first preseason start Matt and I put words to microphones (or just phone in his case) and locked horns over what should happen if Wilson was successful in his first start. After Wilson’s performance, Matt came around, and the rest is history. Immediate, mediocre history.

I’m not going to do a one-sided point counterpoint with Matt’s opinions on Wilson in the present day. A written and edited blog is a totally unfair medium for debate (a word that has four letters politically right now). Instead, I’d rather just have our readers read Matt’s work, my work, and come to their own conclusion. You see, I really respect Matt’s opinion, which is why he writes for this site. I just happen to disagree with this one.

One notion of Matt’s that I’d like to combat, however, is that the Seahawks are all-in on Russell Wilson. There’s no doubt that Pete Carroll took an enormous, potentially career-defining risk when he named Wilson the starter after signing Matt Flynn to a multi-year deal this offseason. The problem I have with this notion is the actual conditions of going “all-in.”

At the risk of simply over-hashing Matt’s terminology, going all-in in poker, which is where the phrase has gained traction in pop culture, is the ultimate leverage play. Going all-in is putting everything you have on the line. The major difference, of course, is that in poker you don’t have the choice to pull your chips back if things don’t go well.

In football, you obviously can pull your chips back. The reason a team is “all-in” in a situation where they’ve named a starter at the quarterback position, especially a rookies, is that generally they’ve incurred a significant risk in terms of either financial or draft pick consideration, and that they have no viable alternatives. So by letting Peyton Manning (a proven, albeit risky in his own way commodity), and drafting Andrew Luck first overall the Colts really went all in. They will pay Luck a lot of money, have wagered a pivotal tool of player acquisition (the draft pick), and let easily the most viable alternative free agent walk.

Leverage in football is based on three basic variables: performance, financial commitment, and viable alternatives.

What the Seahawks did was very different than what the Colts did. The Seahawks took a quarterback in the third round, and signed a veteran. The Seahawks have very little invested in Wilson financially, as a result, and have the opportunity to do what the Colts don’t have the opportunity to do: atone for a mistake.

What we certainly do know, is that Wilson hasn’t performed very well as a whole. Many of us thought he should have been benched before this week. The coaching staff didn’t, and Wilson appeared to make significant strides this week. But if those strides don’t continue, in the name of competition, Wilson must be benched.

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