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Clayton: How Russell Wilson showed Seahawks could ‘Let Russ Coach,’ too

Russell Wilson was on his own to call plays on the Seahawks' game-winning drive. (AP)

The offseason campaign in Seattle was for the Seahawks to “Let Russ Cook.” Russell Wilson is cooking as well as any chef who ever stood over a stove.

Maybe the new campaign should be to “Let Russ Coach.”

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The Miami Dolphins cut the Seahawks’ lead to just one point with 8:31 left in regulation. Wilson took over with a first down at the Seahawks’ 25. All of a sudden, the headsets and communication devices between offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and Wilson went out. Wilson couldn’t hear the play-calls.

No problem.

He called his own plays, drove the team 75 yards in six plays and put the Seahawks ahead, 24-15. That was the game-winning score and game-winning drive in Seattle’s 31-23 victory.

Wilson did it on his own. That’s the type of season he is having. He called three first-down passes and one first-down run. He hit Tyler Lockett for two passes for 39 yards on two first-down plays. He hit David Moore with a 17-yard touchdown pass even though the Dolphins had 12 defenders on the field. He used fast tempo plays. Basically, he stayed with the game-plan he and Schottenheimer have been mastering all season.

The result is that the Seahawks are 4-0, and Wilson tied Peyton Manning for the most touchdown passes in the first four games (16).

Thanks to the changes in the Seahawks’ offense, Wilson has become the best first-down passer in football. Jimmy Garappolo has a slightly higher quarterback rating than Wilson but he’s only thrown 15 passes on first down. Wilson is 50 for 62 for 597 yards and six touchdowns on first down, with a quarterback rating of 132.3. That’s an incredible 80.6 completion percentage. The next closest completion percentages on first down are Jared Goff of the Los Angeles Rams and Ryan Tannehill of the Tennessee Titans. Their combined records are 6-1.

The NFL used to say defense wins championships. Not this year. With no offseason programs and no preseason games, defenses started the season being behind offenses. There are 18 quarterbacks who are on pace for 4,000-yard seasons. And things are getting worse each week. Cornerbacks are going down with injuries. Scoring is at an all-time level. Pass-rushers are struggling. The point totals in games are going up by the week. Clearly, this is the season in which all quarterbacks need to cook or else.

In the first four weeks (not including the Week 4 Monday night games), teams have scored 30 or more points 51 times. That’s right, 51. The Atlanta Falcons averaged 30 points a game in their first three games. They were 0-3 before a Green Bay game. The Packers are averaging 40.7 points a game. The Dallas Cowboys are averaging 31.5 points a game and are 1-3 because they are giving up 36.5 points a game.

Quarterbacks need to cook. This season should lead to a coordinator like Schottenheimer getting head coaching chances. This should lead to teams mostly looking for offensive play-calling head coaches. Look at how offenses are expanding. A few teams are starting to go to more four-receiver formations. Coaches are using more pre-snap motion than ever before and the numbers keeps growing each week. Teams like the Seahawks have tripled the number of two-tight end sets because it keeps defensive coordinators guessing where the quarterback is going with running or passing plays.

It looks as though the Seahawks could have two 1,000-yard receivers in Lockett and DK Metcalf. David Moore is becoming a big-play third receiver. The tight ends are good and the position is deep. The backfield, led by Chris Carson, is deep and powerful. But the key is Wilson. He’s cooking.

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