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This Seahawks season, it’s Russell Wilson or bust

Quarterback Russell Wilson was the Seattle Seahawks’ leading rusher last year, scrambling for 586 yards. (Jim Mone / Associated Press)
Quarterback Russell Wilson was the Seattle Seahawks’ leading rusher last year, scrambling for 586 yards. (Jim Mone / Associated Press)
By Matt Calkins Seattle Times

As a favor to Seahawks fans everywhere, I typed this column with my right hand while repeatedly knocking my wooden table with my left. Of all the seasons Russell Wilson has played in the league, this would be the worst one to jinx him.

One of the more underappreciated stats in sports is that Russell Wilson has missed just one play due to injury in his six-year career. And I can’t think of a time when his durability has been more critical.

Yes, the Seahawks acquired quarterback Brett Hundley from the Green Bay Packers on Wednesday, but that took no weight off Wilson’s shoulders. All it really did was eliminate any QB drama from Thursday’s exhibition game, as it was clear no signal caller on the field was going to make the 53-man roster.

I said a year ago that a return trip to the Super Bowl would require the best season of Wilson’s career. Now I’m saying a return trip to the postseason will require the same.

I don’t know how many fans would question a statement like that, but I do wonder if they recognize how incredible it is that Wilson has always managed to take the field. I understand that his 96 consecutive starts pale in comparison to Brett Favre’s 297 or Peyton Manning’s 208, but I wonder if he has already surpassed those two for most seconds with his hand on the ball.

Wilson has spent his career eluding trouble – his lack of height and shoddy offensive lines eliminating the comfort of a pocket. And though he may frustrate pursuing defenders more than any quarterback in football, pursuing defenders hit him more than any quarterback in football, too.

The 215 sacks Wilson has absorbed since 2013 are the most in the NFL. He was fourth in most times sacked last year, tied for second in 2016, tied for third in 2015, sixth in 2014 and tied for third in 2013. And remember, most of those seasons were when the Seahawks were a run-dominant team.

How does he stay out there amid all those hits? How does he consistently run on to the field when his time on the field is spent on the run?

“It certainly is a testament to his overall athleticism, staying out of trouble. His understanding of the game, knowing situations and staying clear of the difficult situations you can get in,” Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said. “It’s also good fortune, too.”

Yes, it’s definitely good fortune.

You have to wonder whose heart rate is higher when Wilson is running full speed at a linebacker – Russell’s or Pete’s. Wilson might get praise from teammates when he eschews sliding so as to get the first down, but he just gets wrath from Carroll.

Seeing Russell take chances with his body is like watching someone dangle your winning lottery ticket over a balcony. All you’re going to imagine is the worst.

Yet the only play Wilson has missed due to injury came last November in Arizona, when concussion protocol required that he pop into the trainer’s tent. Other than that, he has answered the bell regardless of how hard he’s gotten his bell rung.

Will it continue for 16 games this season? Well, the Seahawks had better hope so.

Hundley’s passer rating of 70.6 and total quarterback rating (QBR) of 44.2 last year weren’t inspiring.

And considering everything Seattle has lost on defense, it has never been more dependent on Wilson for wins.

There’s a chance that the run game will improve if Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny stay healthy at tailback – especially given that they’ll have a full season with Duane Brown at left tackle. But if it was anything like last season, it’s Russell or bust.

Wilson’s durability has been remarkable. Now, it is essential.

I’ll send this column in on that note. Actually, let me knock one more time.

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