By Chris Cluff
Russell Wilson, QB #3
Hometown: Richmond, Va.
Russell Wilson was not the right choice to start for the Seattle Seahawks. Matt Flynn was. But there is absolutely no denying that Wilson has improved by the week — especially over the last month — and essentially made the starting quarterback position his. The last two games have been his best yet. He led the Seahawks to 24 points against the Detroit Lions, and it should have been enough. He led them to 30 against the Minnesota Vikings, and it was enough.
Pete Carroll’s decision to start the rookie had the expected drawbacks. He played like a rookie in the first month, failing to see open receivers, running out of the pocket too soon far too much and playing poorly on the road. The simple fact is the Hawks might have one or two more wins if Flynn had been playing. That said, there is no denying Wilson has progressed just as quickly as the top two picks in this year’s draft, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, and has the Seahawks in great position to make the playoffs this season.
Wilson has thrown more touchdowns than either of those two: 13 to Luck’s 10 and Griffin’s eight. His completion percentage (62.0) and passer rating (87.2) are both ahead of Luck’s (56.5, 79.0) and not far behind Griffin’s (65.6 and 93.9). And, like Luck’s Colts, Wilson’s Seahawks would be a wild-card team if the playoffs started this week. In the last four games, Wilson has thrown eight touchdown passes and two interceptions. In the last two games, he has completed 41 of 59 passes (69.5 percent).
The coaches have expanded the offense over the last month, giving Wilson more options, and he seemingly has become more comfortable. Against the Lions, he came out throwing quick passes and moved the Hawks down the field. Against the Vikings, he threw a lot of receiver screens and ran some zone reads. Carroll told reporters the screens were built-in options for Wilson at the line.
“A lot of those situations there’s runs and passes going on at the same time,” Carroll said, per the News Tribune. “And depending on how the look presents itself, the quarterback has the choice of where to go with the ball. And so if they’re working, he’s choosing well, and we’re blocking well along the edge.”
Carroll said the coaches put the zone read in about a month ago but started using the quarterback run option more this week.
“Most of the time the ball gets handed off, so you can’t tell,” Carroll said. “But it has been a part of our offense for about a month now. And it continues to grow for us. I like it. It puts Russell in a good situation. And it also puts a very difficult task on the defense, so we like all of that. Sometimes you get some real easy plays because of it.”
But Wilson has as a passer even more, and his teammates have noted it.
“He’s a talented guy, man,” center Max Unger told The Seattle Times. “In the huddle, he’s been pretty much been like this the whole time. But he’s become a lot more fluid with his play calls. He gets in and out real quick.”
“He’s really settled in,” guard John Moffitt told The Times. “He’s got a real grip on things. I think a lot of this is just settling into yourself and playing the game.”
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Chris Cluff worked as a sports editor and writer for The Seattle Times for 11 years and has written two books on the Seattle Seahawks. Since leaving the Times, he has written about the Seahawks and Seattle sports for Bleacher Report and the blog he shares with a fellow sportswriter, outsidethepressbox.com. His work can be found on Examiner.com.