By Danny O’Neil
August told us Russell Wilson was ready to be a starting quarterback.
That was last year, though.
This time around, August has told us very little about Wilson’s readiness for this season of unprecedented expectations.
That’s not a criticism of Wilson, more of a commentary on the reality that two weeks before Seattle begins its regular season in Carolina, it’s tough to know just what to make of Wilson’s preseason.
He failed to guide the Seahawks across midfield on its first two possessions in San Diego, but piloted two early scoring drives against the Broncos. He was a perfect 6-for-6 passing in the first quarter of last Friday’s game in Green Bay, but was 4-for-9 passing in the second period for 20 yards and two interceptions, one of which was an unambiguously bad decision on his part.
That play was the one negative that even Wilson pointed to when asked to summarize his preseason to this point.
“I’m a lot further than I was last year,” Wilson said. “I’ve come a lot further in terms of my knowledge of the game and knowledge of the situations. The only negative was the second interception more so than anything last week. Just held onto the ball too long.”
How would you grade Russell Wilson this August? It’s a question that is inherently subjective not only in terms of judging his performance, but with regard to the criteria being used. And while no player’s performance will have more to do with Seattle’s success this year than Wilson, there’s not a player whose performance is more difficult to judge this preseason.
In some respects, he has not been as good as he was a year ago. At least not in the measurement that matters most: points.
He was on the field for 22 possessions last August. Thirteen of those drives (59 percent) produced points, and eight of those were touchdown (36.4 percent). Compare that to this season: Wilson has led 14 drives, six of which have produced points (42.9) and three have resulted in a touchdown (21.4).
But it’s not just the statistics that have changed, but the circumstances. A year ago, Wilson played the second half of the first two exhibition games, coming on the field to face the opponent’s second and even third-string defenders.
Not only that, but Seattle needed to see what he could do. He was auditioning for a job, and Seattle wanted to a gauge of how ready he was to play against NFL defenses.
Seattle no longer needs to see how well he can play. There’s nothing to prove this preseason – it’s about being prepared for the regular season, and this month he hasn’t had the benefit of throwing to his leading receiver last season (Sidney Rice) nor his starting tight end (Zach Miller), though both are expected to be ready for the regular-season opener.
A year ago, everyone had an opinion on Wilson’s performance. This year, everyone has an expectation, and August isn’t going to tell us how Wilson is going to measure up to that. We’re just going to have to wait and watch when Wilson and the Seahawks take the field at Carolina in Week 1.