Russell Wilson prides himself on “ignoring the noise.”
It’s an integral part of his focus, his mantra and regular goal of “going 1-0 this week.”
The noise has rarely been louder around the Seahawks’ fourth-year quarterback than it is right now.
He has nine turnovers in his last half-dozen games dating to the four interceptions he threw in January’s NFC championship game. That’s two more giveaways in six games than he had in the 16-game regular season of 2014.
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Wilson fumbled twice in the fourth quarter Monday night. That allowed Detroit to rally to within 13-10 and a half-yard from likely winning. Then Kam Chancellor forced a heroic fumble with 1:51 left.
The pressure and hits Wilson’s been getting are peaking along with the turnovers.
The Seahawks’ newly minted man has been sacked 18 times through four games entering Sunday’s test at undefeated Cincinnati. That’s the most times in the NFC. Seattle’s sacks allowed per pass play is the most in the NFL.
In August Wilson signed an $87 million, four-year contract extension with more than $61 million guaranteed. That’s a lot of coin to be splayed on the turf or getting chased all over it each game.
Seattle’s most expensive commodity is also currently its most endangered.
And as if he didn’t have enough to deal with behind his struggling line, Wilson had to reach down and across numerous times against Detroit to snag errant shotgun snaps from new center Drew Nowak. He’s a former college defensive tackle.
Wilson’s lack of protection and having to scramble to make plays — or turn the ball over — is why Seattle (2-2) has scored just five touchdowns on 42 offensive drives this season.
“We are fighting like crazy,” he said of the pass-protection issues, with the swarming Bengals up next. “It comes to us educating, all the way across the board. To me getting the pass out quicker, making sure I throw the ball to the right guy at the right time — all those things. That helps, too, as well.
“And then ultimately we have to make the plays.”
All this is the result of the Seahawks having starters in three new positions on the offensive line, including Nowak as the trigger man and protection co-caller with Wilson.
It’s also partly the result of Wilson holding onto the ball for longer times than that very iffy pass protection has afforded him. The league’s winningest quarterback over the first three seasons of a career said Thursday he must find a “happy medium” between getting the ball to a “hot” receiver versus incessant blitzing and him scrambling around in the backfield to extend plays.
Holding onto the ball was Wilson’s issue on his second fumble Monday, which Detroit returned for its only touchdown. Wilson got pummeled by unblocked Lions safety James Ihedigbo after he didn’t throw to the hot receiver.
“Russell makes so many special plays,” offensive coordinator and play caller Darrell Bevell said. “There’s times that there’s hot receivers there, and there’s times where you’ve got to get the ball out. Even when there’s not guys there, there’s guys in that area that we can get rid of the ball. That’s decisions that he has to make.
“He’s made a lot of guys miss in his career. Really, he had the same pressure early in the game and he made the guy miss. It’s a balance game that he has to make those decisions on.”
Asked for his assessment on how Wilson’s made those decisions through four games for the league’s 27th-ranked passing offense, Bevell said: “I think he’s done phenomenal.
“He’s a unique quarterback in his own right. There’s nobody like him in terms of the throwing game, being able to make guys miss, being able to make plays with his legs, being able to make great decisions when he runs. He just does so many good things, we’re not going to sit here and pick him apart and try to change the way he plays.
“Is there going to be a time when something like that happens? Sure there is, but that’s the game we’re going to play.”
Wilson’s first fumble Monday was not as issue of pass protection. Wilson chose to keep the ball on a read-option play for one of the few times this season rather than hand it off, even though Detroit end Ezekiel Ansah was rushing in free just off Wilson’s outside shoulder. Ansah smacked into Wilson to force the ball out.
Yet the man in charge of Seattle’s offensive line says that play — and every play — is on his guys, not Wilson.
“It always starts up front,” line coach Tom Cable said.
“We have to be better. That’s the bottom line. We have to be better.”
Thursday, Wilson sounded like the captain his teammates voted him to be in August.
“We’ve just got to play better,” he said. “It starts with me.”
After watching what St. Louis, Chicago and Detroit did while sacking Wilson 16 times in three games this season, Cincinnati is likely to blitz everyone back to David Fulcher and Paul Brown himself at Seattle’s line on Sunday.
Wilson, of course, knows this. He said his job is to “trust that play and trust the timing of it, and if something breaks down trying to make a smart decision with it.”
Often times, Wilson has looked caught within that not-so-happy medium of throwing quickly or extending plays. Yet Wilson says he’s not thinking too much or being tentative. At all.
“One thing I’m not going to do is, I’m not going to play scared,” Wilson said. “The key is to just playing smart.”
Despite all the pounding, Wilson said he felt fine Tuesday, just as he has after each game this season.
“I try to take care of my body,” he said, not saying anything about “Recovery Water” this time. “I feel great today. I feel 100 percent. That’s what you work out for all offseason and get ready for.
“This game’s not a game of … I should have played tennis otherwise. I’m expected to get hit every once in a while.”
But, hey, not this much. This is no way to win a division, return to playoffs and become the first team since the 1990-93 Buffalo Bills to reach three straight Super Bowls.
“Pass protection,” coach Pete Carroll said, “we need to get better there.”
SUNDAY: Seattle (2-2) at Cincinnati (4-0),
10 a.m., Ch. 13, 710-AM, 97.3-FM, 1030-AM