This week I enjoyed watching one of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL. I say young, because he is only 26, yet he has accomplished a great deal in three seasons as the Seahawks’ starting QB. Russell Wilson has dominated the NFL for the last few years. He has made unfathomable plays and led his team to back-to-back Super Bowls, winning Super Bowl XLVIII and losing last year’s classic title game to the Patriots.
What I love most about Danger-Russ is his ability to extend plays and throw on the run, a skill complimented by his continued improvement in the pocket. To me he is the future at the position, routinely making plays like the ones below from Sunday’s 27–23 loss to the Panthers that give defensive coordinators nightmares and infuriate defenses.
This first play is a key reason why Russell has dominated his first three years and is one of the best quarterbacks in the league. After a great play-action fake, he stands in the pocket to read the defense. When his protection breaks down, he doesn't collapse or panic—instead, he lures the free defenders towards him, knowing full well that neither one of these 300-pound behemoths will sack him or even touch him. Wilson eludes them, sprints towards the line of scrimmage, keeps his eyes downfield and finds Luke Willson for a big play. His ability to scan the field while moving out of the pocket, thus remaining a threat to run or pass, will always spell danger for opposing defenses and give defensive coordinators fits.
Trick plays are great, when they work. Sometimes the key is knowing when to call them. Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell makes a gutsy call on this pitch-right, throwback double-pass for a touchdown. I love coaches that make calls like this in big games. Players enjoy practicing trick plays, and they love it when they finally get called in a game. Kudos to Marshawn Lynch for starting this crafty play off right with a perfectly located throw to Wilson. The rest of this play is about trusting in your personnel. Wilson heaves the ball toward the end zone and gives Ricardo Lockette a chance to make a play. That’s how you go get the ball, and that’s how you get more trick plays called in the future.
This was a tough loss for the Seahawks. An upstart, unbeaten team walked into their home, pushed them around and left with a signature win. But fear not, Seahawk faithful. I saw a connection that will play a big part in the coming weeks for a team that needs to string together some wins: Wilson to Jimmy Graham was in full effect. On the play below, Danger-Russ eludes the rush, runs away from the spy Carolina is using to try to contain him, directs some traffic and on a full sprint drops a dime in Graham’s hands for 45 yards. Oh so sweet!
Trying to protect a three-point lead and facing third-and-20 on your own 30-yard line with 2:36 left in the game can be a tricky position for any offense. No negative plays, no turnovers, let the defense close it out—these thoughts usually dominate the mindset in this situation. On this play, Russell does what he is coached to do by taking the sack and leaving it up to his defense to close out the game.
I thought Wilson played a great game and gave the 12th Man plenty to look forward to. His playmaking abilities are unparalleled, and his pocket skills are steadily improving. As his connection with Graham continues to grow and Beast Mode finds his groove in his return from injury, I expect to see some big wins down the road.