Pete Carroll is getting a reminder about what it's like to compete in the NFL without a game-changing quarterback.
The Seattle Seahawks coach admitted following Monday night's woeful offensive performance in 13-10 loss to the New Orleans Saints that he probably wouldn't have lasted into his 12th season with the club if it weren't for Russell Wilson.
"Let's say it this way: I've been here a long time, and if we didn't have Russell, I probably wouldn't have been here a long time," Carroll said when asked about how much Seattle misses Wilson. "Because of all, think of all the magic that he's created in the years. He's got numbers and stats and fourth-quarter thises and thats, and all that stuff. One of the winningest quarterbacks in the history of the NFL. It'll be really fun when he comes back and plays football again for us this year. We owe a tremendous amount. You can see how hard it is. All of these games, the Rams game … the Steelers and this one, Russell's a factor. He's a fantastic, positive factor and always has been, and those were exactly his time. That's his time. That's when he shines. So, we miss him. In the meantime, we're going to keep fighting and clawing and doing everything we can."
Since Wilson took over as Seattle's starting quarterback in 2012 –- Carroll's third season as head coach, after one year with Matt Hasselbeck and another with Tarvaris Jackson as the main starters -- the Seahawks are 100-48-1 in games Wilson has started.
For the third straight game, Geno Smith got the ball back with a chance to make his own magic. He came up short. This time the QB took two sacks and misfired on a fourth down to end any chance of a miraculous Seattle comeback.
Wilson has generated 31 game-winning drives since entering the NFL in 2012, second-most in NFL over that span behind Matthew Stafford's 34.
It's not just the comebacks where Seattle misses Wilson. It's his every-down genius and ability to make something out of nothing. With Smith in the lineup, it also showed the coaching staff's lack of trust in the backup, as they continued to pound their heads into a brick wall with first-down runs against a Saints defense that stuffed them at every turn.
Smith finished 12-of-22 for 157 yards, one TD, and took five sacks. The Seahawks are averaging 15.0 points per game with Smith starting at QB, after generating 24.0 PPG with Wilson starting in the first five weeks. The offense is also averaging 100.0 fewer pass yards per game with Smith starting than Wilson.
Seattle now sits at 2-5, staring at a lost season. Had Wilson played the past three weeks, the script could have been flipped.
"He's a special, special guy," linebacker Bobby Wagner said of Wilson. "Whenever you give him the ball back with some time left on the clock, you know something's going to happen. For me, I don't need to be reminded. I know what he's capable of doing."
Now the Seahawks hope that when Wilson returns later this season, he'll have enough magic left to push for a potential wild-card spot in a top-heavy NFC.