JOHN CLAYTON

Clayton: Seahawks QB Russell Wilson’s start isn’t just historic, it’s needed

Sep 21, 2020, 1:14 PM | Updated: 1:34 pm
Seahawks Russell Wilson...
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has nine touchdown passes in the first two weeks. (Getty)
(Getty)

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is off to one of the greatest starts in NFL history, but it’s needed.

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Two weeks into the 2020 season, the NFL is all about offense. The league record for touchdowns scored in the first two weeks of the season was passed by Sunday night. There were 179 touchdowns scored prior to the Monday night game, including 175 on offense.

Shootouts are becoming more likely. Great scoring comebacks are plentiful. Dating back to last year, the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs have overcome six consecutive games in which they trailed by double-digit deficits. The Detroit Lions have lost four consecutive games in which they had double-digit leads.

The Dallas Cowboys overcame a 29-10 deficit to win a 40-39 game over the Atlanta Falcons. And even though Wilson put 35 points on the New England Patriots, Cam Newton was within a yard of getting a comeback victory in Seattle in a 35-30 Seahawks win.

The Seahawks are letting Russell Wilson cook, but he needs to do that. The NFC West’s four teams are a combined 7-1 after two weeks with the Arizona Cardinals, Seahawks and Los Angeles Rams all 2-0, and the San Francisco 49ers at 1-1 (their loss coming to the Cardinals). Since the league went to eight divisions in 1992, the only time a division started out 7-1 was in 2002 when the AFC West reached that mark.

FiveThirtyEight, the analytics website, projected Monday that the NFC West could have four playoff teams. They predict the Seahawks at 11-5, the Rams at 10-6 and the Cardinals and 49ers at 9-7. The Rams are better than projected. The Cardinals look so much better on defense and they have Kyler Murray at quarterback.

The Rams, Cardinals and 49ers rank among the best eight defenses in fewest yards allowed after two weeks.

But no one is off to a better start than Wilson. He’s completing 82.5 percent of his passes. He has nine touchdowns. He’s averaging 9.7 yards an attempt. He won the NFC Offensive Player of the Week award last week and should win it against this week.

What he did against the New England Patriots in the 35-30 victory was incredible. The Pats have the best man-to-man coverage cornerback trio in football. Bill Belichick put Stephon Gilmore, the 2019 Defensive Player of the Year, on DK Metcalf in what turned out to be the most physical man-to-man matchup of the year. Gilmore pushed on Metcalf and Metcalf pushed back.

In the end, thanks to Wilson, Metcalf got the best of the matchup. He caught four passes for 92 yards and looked like a Pro Bowler. Gilmore was beaten for only one touchdown last year. Metcalf got one on him Sunday night.

The Pats put a couple of their smaller cornerbacks on Tyler Lockett. He still caught seven passes for 67 yards and a touchdown.

Wilson ended up throwing five touchdown passes, including four to four different wide receivers. All last year, the Patriots were beaten for only four touchdowns by opposing wide receivers.

It was interesting to see how running back Chris Carson’s game keeps getting better. He had 17 rushes for 72 yards, running with his physical style of getting yards after contact. But the Seahawks are making a point to get him the ball on passing plays. He caught three passes for 36 yards and had a touchdown reception. He also had two TD catches in Week 1, and his three on the season is tied for second in the NFL.

The only downside to the game was the potentially season-ending loss of linebacker Bruce Irvin, who may have suffered an ACL tear. Nickel cornerback/safety Marquise Blair could also be lost to the same injury.

Next Sunday’s game should be a high-scoring one against Dallas, but the Seahawks have an edge. They have Russell Wilson.

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