- Seattle Seahawks’ quarterback Russell Wilson will be sidelined four to eight weeks due to a ruptured tendon in the middle finger of his right (throwing) hand.
- Wilson suffered the injury in Thursday night’s loss to the Los Angeles Rams.
- Wilson has been a remarkably durable competitor and the injury will end his consecutive start streak at 149–most among active NFL quarterbacks.
The Seattle Seahawks will be without starting quarterback Russell Wilson for at least a month and possibly up to two months due to an injury in the middle finger of his right (throwing) hand. Wilson injured the finger in the third quarter of Thursday night’s loss to the Los Angeles Rams. He was following through on a pass attempt to Tyler Lockett when his finger made contact with the hand of Rams’ defensive lineman Aaron Donald. Wilson returned for one series before being replaced by backup Geno Smith.
The loss of a starting quarterback would be a challenge for any team but for the Seahawks it’s ‘uncharted waters’. Wilson has been remarkably durable throughout his NFL career, making 149 consecutive starts since 2012. This is the longest such streak among active NFL quarterbacks and the second longest streak to start a career behind only Peyton Manning (208 games) among all quarterbacks since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger. Wilson will be replaced under center by veteran Geno Smith. Smith looked very sharp after entering the game in relief after Wilson’s injury and should be even better after a week of concentrated practice with the starting offense. The Seahawks will next travel to play the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Sunday night game on October 17.
Initially, there was hope that Wilson’s injury was not particularly serious. Immediately after the game, Seattle head coach Pete Carroll characterized the injury as ‘a badly sprained finger’ though he declined to put a timetable on his return pending further testing:
“There is a lot of work to be done in assessing all of that. Russell is one of the great healers of all time, and he’ll do whatever he can to get back as soon as absolutely possible.”
Unfortunately, the diagnosis turned out to be a ruptured tendon in the middle finger of his right (throwing) hand. He underwent surgery on Friday morning with Dr. Steven Shin stabilizing the finger with screws. He’ll begin the rehab process next week. Simultaneous to that, head coach Pete Carroll spoke to the media and indicated that the decision to pull Wilson for Smith in the previous night’s game wasn’t an issue of pain management–he simply couldn’t hold onto and/or throw a football. Carroll then made an extended point about Wilson’s ‘toughness’ which no one was questioning in the first place:
“Nobody should question his toughness. Nobody should question his resolve. If he could have thrown a football and held on to it, he would have done it. Anybody that says otherwise doesn’t know what they’re talking about. So you can deal with all kinds of stuff with your hands and you can still throw the football, and he tried last night and did not have … the control of the ball. So if he could have, he would have.”
The typical recovery time for an injury of this type is six weeks, which is why the ‘four to eight’ week timetable is being widely reported. There appears to be a strangely fatalistic tone in the media about Wilson’s absence–given backup Geno Smith’s strong play in relief there’s little to suggest that he’s not capable to keeping the team on the rails. If Smith has an issue it’s his lack of playing time–his fourth quarter touchdown pass to D.K. Metcalf was his first since 2017. Head coach Carroll spoke very highly of Smith in his comments to the media, emphasizing the poise and discipline required of a NFL backup quarterback playing behind a starter that hasn’t missed a game in his career:
“I thought Geno did a marvelous job last night. Geno’s been practicing with us for all this time and waiting for his opportunity if called upon. The patience that he’s shown with us and to stay with it and his relationship with Russ and the coaches, he’s been impeccable. And when he went out, he executed like he can. He’s a very talented football player. He’s got a great arm, he’s got great sense and he knows the system really well.”
“It’s not the makeup that Geno would like to be proud of — that I’m really good at backing up — because everyone wants to be a great starter and I’ve always talked to him like that, that he is and that’s what he will be when the time comes. So now he’s going to get a chance and I’m thrilled for him.”
“I totally trust that Geno can do this and I think you saw it last night in a really difficult situation — hurry-up, all that kind of stuff, he was really good at it. He really understands the system so we’ll be able to stay with the preparation and that’ll help everybody. Geno makes guys around him feel confident and feel comfortable and I thought that was a great showing.”
Smith’s last NFL start came in 2017 with the New York Giants. The 30 year old is in his third season with Seattle and the fact that the Seahawks are paying him $1.2 million per season speaks volumes. In theory, they could find a much less expensive option for a backup so clearly they value not only Smith’s talent but his mental and psychological makeup. As head coach Carroll noted, it’s a tough job to be a NFL backup and that’s compounded by playing behind a quarterback with legendary durability like Wilson. The Seahawks bottom ranked defense is a much bigger issue than being forced to play a backup quarterback until Wilson’s return. Seattle will likely need to sign a backup for Smith as he and Wilson are the only quarterbacks listed on their depth chart.
Working in Seattle’s favor is their upcoming schedule starting with a game next Sunday on the road against the bumbling 1-3 Pittsburgh Steelers. This will be followed by home games against the 2-2 New Orleans Saints and the lowly 0-4 Jacksonville Jaguars. They’ll then get a bye week followed by a pair of tough matchups on the road against 3-1 Green Bay (November 14) and at home against currently undefeated Arizona (November 21). At the end of this scheduling segment we’ll be at the six week mark and Wilson should be getting close to a return–if he hasn’t done so already.