By Mike Salk
It was a win three weeks in the making.
For three weeks, Russell Wilson has stepped up his game, only to see his efforts wasted. In San Francisco, it was the five dropped passes that sabotaged his stats. In Detroit, the defensive miscues overshadowed what had been his best day.
But on Sunday, against a Minnesota defense that entered the game allowing the seventh-fewest passing yards per attempt, Wilson was nearly flawless.
In the first half of Seattle’s 30-20 win, he was 10 of 14 for 106 yards and three touchdowns. Those numbers are great, but remember that of the four incompletions, three were dropped and the fourth was thrown away on purpose.
Russell Wilson threw three touchdown passes and made plays with his feet to help the Seahawks score a season-high 30 points in a win over Minnesota. (AP)
As I said, nearly flawless.
He was called upon to throw only 10 times in the second half (thanks to a pounding ground attack and a lead), but still managed to complete 60 percent of his attempts.
Again, the numbers tell a great story, but only part of it. What the numbers omit is a multi-faceted skill set that fits perfectly within the Seahawks’ gameplan.
Wilson is, in a word, dynamic.
Need a quarterback to maintain possession of the ball? Wilson did not turn it over once in this game, and he has yet to throw an interception at home. Ball security is at forefront of his game and it’s especially important to a team that wants to run it 43 times (as the Seahawks did Sunday).
Need a quarterback to fire out the quick screens? Wilson set up Golden Tate on a couple of those and triggered the double-pass with Sidney Rice.
Need someone to stand in the pocket and fire it out to open receivers? Re-watch the 23-yard strike to Rice in the first quarter.
Need someone to avoid pressure, keep his balance, extend a play and fire it downfield? The touchdown to Rice should be on your DVR – watch it. Wilson was sacked just once on the day and has only been sacked 14 times in nine games.
Need a scrambler? His 13 yards on third-and-14 gave the Seahawks the opportunity to extend the final drive and put away the win.
For the second straight week, Wilson’s ability to read defenses and run to either side of the field has allowed coordinator Darrell Bevell to play games with the defensive ends, forcing them to either commit to the inside run or the threat of the sprint-out pass on the read-option. Wilson’s athleticism and quick decision making (along with Marshawn Lynch’s power running style) has taken the aggressiveness away from premier ends like Cliff Avril, Kyle Vanden Bosch and Jared Allen.
In a passing league where the elite pass rushers change games, Wilson is able to use their best assets against them. That’s just as valuable as a left tackle.
There will be tough days ahead for Wilson, I’m sure. Defensive masterminds will come up with responses to his unique abilities. But after seeing him grow and adjust over the first nine games of his career, don’t you feel confident in his ability to overcome those difficulties?
It was a daring choice for coach Pete Carroll to start his season with a third-round rookie at quarterback. Many scoffed. Others raged that he was “wasting” his championship-caliber defense.
And truthfully, the first few weeks had their rough moments.
But Carroll remained steadfast that his decision was about the future this season, not just for the years beyond. Nine games in and coming off three straight excellent performances from Wilson, Carroll looks prescient and his rookie quarterback looks like a star.