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So This Russell Wilson Guy Is Fairly Good At Playing American Professional Football

December 3, 2012
Get off me, child's play!

Get off me, child’s play!

Russell Wilson does so many things well, instead of asking “what does he do well?”, a more apt question may be “what doesn’t he do well?”. After completing 23 of 37 passes (62%) for 293 yards and 2 touchdowns against no interceptions, while also adding 9 rushes for 71 yards, it’s hard to find an answer to that second question. There are only three plays I can remember–two passes over Zach Miller’s head, and one time where Wilson didn’t throw to a wide-open Miller in the end zone. I’m not sure there’s anything else about Wilson’s performance to be unhappy about.

After finishing with a 104.9 passer rating on Sunday, Wilson is now the seventh best in the NFL in that stat on the season, at 95.2. That puts him ahead of some guys you may have heard of, including Matt Schaub, Matt Ryan, Jay Cutler, and Drew Brees. If you prefer ESPN’s QBR (which is silly, because that stat is not very good) Wilson still checks in at #11, one spot ahead of Brees. As Brian Nemhauser of Hawk Blogger pointed out, there have only been three seasons in which a Seahawks quarterback has posted a passer rating above 90.0, and Wilson would be second only to Hasselbeck’s 98.2 in 2005–the year the Seahawks went to the Super Bowl. Wilson has been outstanding any way you slice it, and yesterday was a jaw-dropping performance.

Wilson’s career has played in just 12 games, but none were finer than yesterday’s effort against the Bears. Wilson’s brain was on display in the fourth quarter, when Wilson apparently approached the coaching staff after reading the Bears’ defense and said that the Seahawks signature read-option play was “wide open”. That observation proved to be very useful during the Seahawks’ nearly game-winning 97-yard touchdown drive.

The read-option is a play where Wilson is in the shotgun, snaps the ball, and decides based on how the other team is crashing the line whether to hand off to Lynch, or keep the ball himself and take off. With 2:45 left to play and the ball at their own 21, Wilson called the read-option, and put it in Marshawn’s belly for 11 yards. Two plays later, they again ran the read option, this time with Wilson keeping for 13 yards. On the next play, they ran the play once more, with Wilson again keeping for six yards. With how good Lynch is, teams are forced to key him in the run game, so the read option allows Wilson to keep and get huge chunks of yards if he sees the other team is “cheating” to shut Lynch down. The Bears were cheating to shut down Lynch, and Wilson smartly took advantage of their over agressiveness.

Shut up Jay Cutler

Shut up Jay Cutler.

The play was even more useful in overtime, where they ran it three consecutive times to start the drive. resulting in 11 yards for Wilson and 14 for Lynch. It was used three more times on the drive for 19 yards, and could have gained more if Lynch hadn’t taken the ball when Wilson pretty clearly meant to keep it on a one-yard loss by Lynch with Wilson’s lane completely open. This look also means that a play-action fake from this formation allows receivers to get more separation. Wilson only passed three times in the overtime period, and connected on all three for 38 yards, including the game-winning 13-yard strike to Sidney Rice.

What stands out has to be the fact that Russell Wilson was able to read the defense himself and come to the coaches with adjustments on the fly. This is the #1 ranked defense in the NFL, and a rookie was able to just read and abuse them to the tune of 177 yards in two drives. Wilson just keeps getting better with every game. It seems clear now that the Seahawks have found their franchise quarterback. He doesn’t just have the physical talent, but he has the mental talent and intangibles too. Wilson never looks flustered, he never looks nervous. Nothing shakes him. Wilson is always positive and always expecting great things to happen. After watching him ruin the Bears in Chicago yesterday, I expect great things now, too.

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