Reporting Jason A. Churchill
Over the past three weeks, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has tallied 240 yards rushing on 33 attempts. Some of those attempts are by design — the read option has been effective, and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell has called a few draws, too — but many have been Wilson scrambling from pressure or off a roll-out when he took off running because there weren’t any receivers breaking open down the field. The second-year signal caller put the team on his back three weeks ago at Houston in an overtime win and was nearly flawless Sunday.
Not just with his feet, however.
Wilson was 23-for-31 for 257 yards versus the Tennessee Titans, including a cross-field beauty that Marshawn Lynch took for 55 yards. Wilson rushed for 61 yards, and his runs are key to the club’s early-season success, particularly with the injury problems on the offensive line.
Wilson is a great running QB, there’s no questioning that. But it’s not his legs that make him a special quarterback, it’s how well he performs on plays when he doesn’t run or scramble outside the pocket.
Really? Yes, really.
Monday on the Steve Sandmeyer Show, I asked NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon about the growing number of quarterbacks that can do damage with their running ability. Moon said “the most important thing is being able to throw the ball from the pocket first. If you look at all these guys that can move around in the league today, whether it’s RG3, whether it’s Cam Newton, whether it’s Russell, they can throw the football from the pocket, and that’s where it all starts. And then if you have that extra dimension, that makes you special. But if you can’t throw it from the pocket all you are is a guy that can run around and scramble, you’re not going to last very long in this league because it’s going to come down to you having to make big throws in games, and all these guys can do that.”
OKay, so if Wilson wants to be a high-quality starting quarterback, he has to be able to throw from the pocket.
Through six games in 2013, Wilson has posted a 93.7 QB efficiency rating from the pocket, which ranks No. 7 in the NFL, ahead of Andrew Luck, Matt Stafford, Newton, Ben Roethlisberger, Robert Griffin III, Joe Flacco and Colin Kaepernick, among others.
Wilson finished No. 6 in the league a year ago in that category, proving his success in 2013 is no fluke. So Wilson is good throwing from the pocket. Very good. And we know he can run. That combination makes him special.
The key to the Hawks’ offense the rest of the season may be as much about getting Wilson more opportunities from the pocket as it is about anything else. They’ll probably need to be fully healthy on the offensive line for that to happen, and that isn’t expected to be the case until late next month at the earliest.
When it does come to fruition, however, look for more balls thrown down the field, and more touchdowns from an offense that has had to lean heavily on the legs of Lynch and Wilson, and the foot of Steven Hauschka. And if the Hawks find themselves behind late in a game and there’s no time to hand it off to Lynch, no worries, mate. One of the league’s best pocket performers wears No. 3 for your Seattle Seahawks.
- Jason A. Churchill, 1090 The Fan
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