Gary Bogdon/Sports Illustrated/The MMQB
Gary Bogdon/Sports Illustrated/The MMQB

What About Russell?

The Seahawks' unflappable young quarterback got lost in the immediate aftermath of Super Bowl XLVIII, but he's a major reason Seattle's already talking repeat. Plus, readers weigh in on Peyton Manning, the referees and much more

“Russell Wilson! Eighteen for 25, two touchdowns, a 123 QB rating!”

—Seattle coach Pete Carroll, in his post-game speech to his team after the 43-8 Super Bowl victory over Denver.

* * *

What about Russell Wilson?

I’m as guilty of this as the next defensive devotee, but we lost Wilson in the aftermath of Seattle’s first Super Bowl victory in its history Sunday night. Consider that he was opposite Peyton Manning, playing on the biggest stage of his life, with lesser receivers than Denver had, and consider that from his very first big play—a rollout to his left, throwing awkwardly across his body, throwing a line-drive strike to Golden Tate for a first down—he never, ever betrayed any jitters. Like what Pete Carroll told me at Seattle practice Friday: “Russell is exactly where he’s always pictured he’d be in life. I think he is ready to play a very good game.”

Seeing the game Sunday night got me thinking back to the weekend of the rookie third-round pick’s first training camp practice as a Seahawk. July 2012, Renton, Wash., where Wilson, Matt Flynn and Tarvaris Jackson were in a three-way battle for the starting job.

Some of what I wrote coming out of camp that day:

The vibe I got here is that Wilson has a legitimate shot to win the starting job. Carroll loves him. GM John Schneider loves him. Plus, Flynn’s not the kind of player whose arm is going to wow you in a training camp. That gives the charismatic Wilson a chance, which is all he’s ever wanted. I spent 20 minutes with him Sunday, and I was ready to run extra routes for him after listening to him.

“I refuse to be average,’’ Wilson said on the field after practice. “I refuse to be good. All I want to do is work to excel every day.’’

It’s very difficult to make any judgments on a player, or a team, watching a pad-less practice, with players in helmets and shorts. But Wilson’s arm looked every bit as strong, and maybe slightly stronger, than Flynn’s in this practice. On one snap, Wilson was flushed from the pocket, scrambled right (“He scrambles to throw; he doesn’t scramble to run,’’ Carroll said) and launched a slightly wavering 32-yard strike down the right side to a covered Ben Obomanu, who came down with the ball.

That’s what he told me he was happiest about at Wisconsin—the ability to show scouts and NFL teams he could play in the land of the giants (the Badger offensive line is annually one of the nation’s largest) and get clear passing lanes to complete passes. At Wisconsin last year, Wilson had two of 309 batted down—0.6 percent.

“I’ve been told a ton of times if I was just two inches taller, I’d be a great prospect,’’ Wilson said. “But I played behind a huge offensive line last season, and I think what I proved is I’m not going to have any trouble getting the ball out.’’

The 25-year-old Russell Wilson became the third-youngest starting quarterback to win a Super Bowl. (David Bergman/Sports Illustrated/The MMQB)
The 25-year-old Russell Wilson became the third-youngest starting quarterback to win a Super Bowl, following Ben Roethlisberger (23) and Tom Brady (24). (David Bergman/Sports Illustrated/The MMQB)

Sunday night, I said to Wilson: “You just beat Peyton Manning in a playoff game.”

Wilson said, shaking his head: “I know, right?”

I made a couple of passes at Wilson, just to talk, and both times he brought up what he thought was the point everyone needed to remember: “Nobody here thinks we’re done.” That day in Renton, he talked about wanting to be good for a long time. If you’re good for a long time, you have to remember you’ve got to do something every offseason to be better. This is what Seahawks general manager John Schneider saw in Wilson.

In the end, credit goes to Schneider for coming back from scouting Wilson twice in 2011 at Wisconsin and careening into Carroll’s office and saying, “You’ve got to take a look at this guy. You’ll fall in love with him.” Credit goes to Carroll for being true to his competition gene and playing Wilson when the safe thing was to let Flynn play his way out of the starting job during the regular season—and credit to Carroll for sticking with Wilson when he playing just okay football early. And credit to Wilson for doing it, with the help of offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and quarterback coach Carl Smith, the well-traveled one.

And credit to them all for knowing winning multiple titles is what separates a franchise. They haven’t been afraid to talk about greatness, short- or long-term, since Carroll arrived four years ago, and I think that helps the team focus on what’s ahead without being distracted or intimidated by it.

Having Wilson as a new-wave quarterback—with a good-enough arm and legs that can get him out of trouble—at a dirt-cheap salary of $662,434 (he cannot renegotiate his rookie contract until next offseason) that should help the Seahawks sign some needed players; Michael Bennett would be the first on my wish list. So many GMs and coaches go to bed at night worrying about their quarterback. Schneider and Carroll don’t have to. They can focus this year on keeping a great defense intact. It’s a good time to be a Seahawks fan.

.

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309 comments
ChuckThompson
ChuckThompson

RW put the Hawks in winning position in each of the 3 losses. Oddly enough it was the defense that gave up the big play in each of those loses. RW also had a great season last year with a come from behind victor against the Redskins and near victory in Atl when again the defense gave up the big play. Say what you want, RW do not lose ball games for the Hawks, but surely does his job to put them in winning situations. Luck will be a great QB but he is to me a turnover machine, see Patriots game this year.

AdamSalazar
AdamSalazar

"A good enough arm."  I don't get this sentiment, and I didn't get it when Steve Young was saying it post-game; "He's not going to throw darts, but…"  When did this become the narrative? Wilson has AT LEAST above average arm talent. He probably takes something off so his receivers have a nice ball to catch, but when he needs to, he will uncork one. I don't get the sudden lack of faith in his arm-strength, the story has always been that his guy has a big-time arm.

TheHip1
TheHip1

Ray Guy...Hall of Fame...about damn time! 

MikeCourts
MikeCourts

As a 38 year Seahawk fan I will simply enjoy the moment. I am beginning to appreciate that comparisons of teams and players, although entertaining, are specious. Each era has its own style making the comparisons pointless. What I do know is that we enjoyed a magical season, had a truly team effort, were blessed with some good bounces and played our best game when it counted most. I have no idea what the future holds, but we have the nucleus of a very good team and I am optimistic. Suffice it to say, we have waited a long time in the NW for this moment and I hope other long suffering fans get their opportunity to enjoy their own special day.

Buck2185
Buck2185

Peter, just last week you were talking up Peyton Manning and how Denver was going to win. Now, you are all over Russell Wilson. What a fair weather homer....Now that the season is over, I suppose you will start to get back to normal and start writing about everything Patriot/Brady....

Horns8585
Horns8585

"And the Seattle secondary is absolutely premiere, while the Dallas secondary was pedestrian."


I agree that the Seattle secondary is great, but the Dallas secondary in the early to mid '90's was better than pedestrian. Pre-Achilles Kevin Smith was an above average cover corner. Larry Brown was an above average cover corner that won the Super Bowl XXX MVP (although gifted by Neil O'Donnell). Darren Woodson was a superior safety. James Washington was a superior safety that should have been the Super Bowl XXVIII MVP. And don't forget other speedy, aggressive, and hard hitting role playing DB's Brock Marion, Thomas Everett, Kenny Gant and Isaac Holt. Then you add the best shut down corner in NFL history in Deion Sanders for their third SB run. I would hardly call that a pedestrian secondary. They had a very good secondary.

Richard--Ramirez
Richard--Ramirez

At this point you have to say that Wilson is the real deal and Manning is just a glorified stat boy.

JimKelly
JimKelly

That picture of the first play says a lot. Peyton Manning is running off the field without even looking at the ball. Knowshon Moreno is hustling to the botched snap, and hasn't even started to cover it yet. Wouldn't Manning have looked like a fool if Moreno had been able to scoop the ball up, and gotten out of the end zone with it? Manning may have been trying to put a bad play behind him, but shouldn't he at least play to the whistle?

Drifter1
Drifter1

Consider the following QBs and how they won their first Super Bowls at the age of 25 or younger:


Terry Bradshaw:  9/14, 96 yards, 1 TD


Joe Montana:  14/22, 157 yards, 1 TD


Tom Brady:  16/27, 145, 1 TD. 


Ben Rothleisberger:  9/21, 123 yards, 0 TD, 2 INTs. 


Obviously, none of these QBs won the games on their own.  SF's defense forced four turnovers and put up the greatest goal-line stand in Super Bowl history.  Harris and Bleier combined for over 200 rushing yards and the Steel Curtain held the Vikings to six points.  The Patriot defense held the mighty Ram offense scoreless for three quarters and scored on a INT return - the Patriot offense only scored 13 points that day, and Brady was game MVP.  Rothleisberger's numbers speak for themselves - the Steelers practically won in spite of him.


Later in their careers, all four produced more in SBs. Bradshaw beat Dallas with four TDs and then beat the Rams with two second-half TDs.  Montana torched Miami and Denver.  Brady beat Carolina with 354 yards and 3 TDs.  Rothleisberger only had one TD in his next appearance, but it was enough to win the game in spectacular fashion.


If Seattle is able to make it back to another Super Bowl, Wilson may be called on to do more, or may have an opportunity for a game-winning moment.  Given the level he played at Sunday, plus the fact that he will continue to improve, plus the fact that Seattle may add weapons (Montana didn't have either Rice or Taylor for his first SB), and there's little reason to think that he wouldn't be able to rise to the occasion if he needed to.

badbeatya
badbeatya

The NFL has named co-MVP's before, so why couldn't they have given the award (& a few trucks and trips to mouseville) to the D-line?  They were the true catalyst in that exhibition of domination that is SB XLVIII.  (is this outdated numeral system still needed?!?!)


And how about John Schneider for MVE - Most Valuable Executive

PrideofJA
PrideofJA

Wilson is really good but, imho, the MVP should have been awarded to the Seattle defensive line.  They put pressure on Manning by rushing only four guys.  I only saw one blitz the entire game. I can't recall the last time I saw Manning harried an rushed on virtually every snap. 


Calling any single player an "MVP" on a Super Bowl team is kind of ridiculous.  To even get to the Super Bowl, you have to have a lot of stud players making contributions.

FOOLKILLER
FOOLKILLER

This was an as*kicking of epic proportions. Should shut Broncos fans up for at least the rest of the decade.

wlewisiii
wlewisiii

"In today’s game, the best teams are the ones less reliant on a single player." This is a good summation of why the Packers were not in that game on Sunday - the coaches are utterly reliant on a single player & when he went down, so did the team. 

Serena
Serena

The amount of smoke being blown up Wilson backside is amazing.

He is just another Trent Dilfer a good game manager nothing more nothing less. 


Let's not forget his SB performance was against a team missing it's three best players

Ell
Ell

@AdamSalazar  If you look at all his scouting reports after pro day and the combine, they all say he has a big time arm and they were surprised at just how strong it was. Maybe people just associate small = so so arm. Who knows but people who watch his tape can see the darts he throws in tiny windows. I do agree with your assessment that he takes something off so his receivers have a nice ball to catch. I've noticed when he throws to Willson he doesn't uncork one because he doesn't want him to drop it. I think next year, they add short to intermediate darts more consistently (similar to what they did in the SB) but just add all the deep balls the usually go for in the regular season. It will be interesting to see.

JayWasHere
JayWasHere

@Richard--Ramirez - that's ridiculous.  Wilson IS the real deal, but he wasn't playing against Seattle's defense like Manning had to.

Mike26
Mike26

@Richard--Ramirez  Not yet.  Not for a long time - and after years of consistently and significantly improved production from Wilson.

Darren1
Darren1

@JimKelly  Wrong, Manning is running to put a block on whatever Seahawk was closest to the ball. Moreno was by far the closest player on the field to the fumble.

MikeMcCann
MikeMcCann

@PrideofJA You do understand that the Super Bowl MVP is an award specific to THAT game, right?

Mike26
Mike26

@FOOLKILLER  Why do you say that?  Go back to MMQB and see that there are still Seahawk fans complaining about their loss 10 years ago.

ZachAnn
ZachAnn

It's not a single player, moron. It's your QB. If it's an elite QB any team would suffer. What a stupid comment.

ZachAnn
ZachAnn

Who is Seattle's backup QB? I guarantee you The Seahawks would have struggled without Wilson. Plus, let's see what happens when they have to pay him more than the rookie contract. Teams can consistently be good in the NFL these days and not win the Super Bowl. Anyone coronating the Seahawks as next year's champ is an idiot.

MikeMcCann
MikeMcCann

@Serena If you're going to use missing players as an excuse, let's all muse for a second what Seattle's record would have been if Harvin, Rice, Okung, Clemons, Wright, Browner, Irvin, Unger, etc. didn't miss as much time as they did? Hell, I don't think there was a single game this season when the intended starting receivers on the depth chart played together, and the same is almost true of the offensive line. 

Depth wins, plain and simple.


p.s. You insult Dilfer as much as you insult Wilson by invoking that tired old storyline of just managing games.

Fleeb
Fleeb

@Serena  If he can manage the Seahawks to another SB or two I'll be fine with that. 

GO HAWKS!

evangelio
evangelio

@Serena   who cares what type of quarterback he is if he wins games!?   There was a stretch this season where RW took control of the game to push the seahawks into the lead and ultimately a victory.  Game manager?  haha I don't think so... but either way he helps his team win games!  what more do you need?

Tim C
Tim C

@Serena Really?

Smoke? It has been a VOLCANO up Manning's backside for weeks PRIOR to the SB.

And what did he do?

NUTTIN HONEY.  The defense of the Broncos was being the next best thing since sliced bread as they stopped Brady and Rivers. Where were they? Perhaps Wilson runs a tighter ship than Brady & Rivers.

Missing three best players?

Whose fault was that?

It's football.

badbeatya
badbeatya

@Serena Well, in response, I'll use 2 hackneyed phrases:  everyone is entitled to their opinion (though she is obviously just trolling) & only time will tell.


Here's my opinion:  Russell Wilson possesses elite athletic ability coupled with extraordinary intellect.  His confidence in himself and his team is well founded and tempered with the knowledge that success is a product of sacrifice, hard work, and humility.  He crushed it at the collegiate level while setting records in the process.  Barring injury, he projects to have a highly successful NFL career.  I just hope he concentrates on 'managing' NFL games, rather than branching out into MLB.

Paul19
Paul19

@Serena You don't have a clue! do you? A typical HOMER remark.

jack.moskovita
jack.moskovita

@Serena My dear, you don't know football... Read my other post and this one:

Wilson completed 72% of his throws Sunday for 206 yards and two touchdowns. He added 26 yards rushing on three carries. Wilson didn’t win the Super Bowl MVP award (linebacker Malcom Smith took home the hardware), but many thought he deserved the nod. Some view Wilson as simply a game manager and Seattle’s success a result of its league-leading defense, but make no mistake — Wilson is a star.


http://www.forbes.com/sites/kurtbadenhausen/2014/02/02/seahawks-qb-russell-wilson-is-super-bowl-champion-and-a-future-100-million-man/


this is not ice skating ;)

BobHalstead
BobHalstead

@Serena  game manager? Have you seen Russell Wilson play? He has a really good arm, does not throw many interceptions, has thrown 52 TD's in his first two seasons(on a team that runs the ball more than it passes) He has made many amazing throws, from the pocket, on the run, under pressure, and most important of all, he just helps the Seahawks win. Let's not forget that the Seahawks with Wilson as QB have beaten all the "top QB's" in the NFL. Brady, Manning, Brees, Rodgers, Cutler, Romo."  I think some people look at stats and come to ignorant conclusions. Since Wilson has been QB in Seattle they have been the most consistent team in the NFL, never losing by more than 7 points.  I don't see how any person who has watched Wilson play could think he was just a "game manager. 

Rick57
Rick57

@Serena  If you think Wilson is just a game manager then you really don't know squat about football.


Let's not forget Wilson has won more games in his first two years than any other QB in history.


Please stick to ice skating, it's obvious football is way too advanced for you.

AVP
AVP

@JayWasHere @Richard--Ramirez  eh, Wilson has to play defenses of SF, AZ, and SL.  All of them built just like the Seahawks and an epic battle every time.  Let's see how Manning deal with entire NFCW defense next year and see if Wilson's the "real deal".

evangelio
evangelio

@ZachAnn Tavaris Jackson is the backup... and the games he has played for us in Seattle, he's actually done a decent job...  but isn't that what you said last year???

konenp
konenp

@Rick57 @Serena  Definitely not a game manager but if you think he is an elite QB you know about as much as her.  Mediocre stats the last half of the season.  Plays with the best defense in football.  He isn't Trent Dilfer but he isn't an elite QB either.

el80ne
el80ne

@evangelio @ZachAnn What games could you be referring to that tjack plays well? You mean the garbage time minutes he played the past year one the game was all but in hand? FYI, tjack's problem has always been his failure to deliver in the clutch. He chokes big time, and is totally lost out there, circa 2011. He's a great backup so long as he keeps his butt parked on the bench.

badbeatya
badbeatya

@evangelio T-Jack is a great backup, no doubt.  But Seattle does not even sniff the playoffs without Russell Wilson.  Although his stats don't really show it, Russell Wilson is a dynamic QB and his play wins, not manages, games. WINNER

ZachAnn
ZachAnn

Would you want him starting seven games? I didn't think so.

cronotose
cronotose

@konenp @PrideofJA @BobHalstead @Serena  It would also help if the word "elite" had any defined meaning in this context. Whether or not a QB is "elite" is an entirely subjective and meaningless call. Wilson is one of the best young quarterbacks a team could have, that's all that really matters for the Seahawks.

konenp
konenp

@PrideofJA @BobHalstead @Serena  Averaging 26 TD's a season is "the best argument" you've read yet for Wilson?  I guess that proves the point that there is no argument for him being elite.  Will he become elite?  Who knows.  

MattHoward1
MattHoward1

@konenp @Rick57 @Serena  It's too early to say how good he is.  But he has the poise of a seasoned veteran and pretty much always does what's expected of him.  The hawks, due to their excellent D, run a very conservative offense based around the run and not giving up turnovers.  So yeah, he's often forced into the role of "game manager", but he also has the second most come from behind wins in the last two years, trailing only Andrew Luck.  He's got all the tools to be great (aside from height, but that doesn't seem to be stopping him so far).  

Ell
Ell

@konenp @Rick57 @Serena  He was playing hurt during the second half of the season first of all (Pete Carroll announced it yesterday) and dude, look at his stats. They're better than ALL the young QB's. Also, look at Trent Dilfers stats and tape and look at his. COMPLETELY different. That's how I know you don't know much. 

AdamSalazar
AdamSalazar

@konenp @OwenCaterwall3 @Rick57 @Serena  Much of the confusion comes from the fact that people who don't follow Seattle regularly don't understand how they play. Seattle is the antithesis of the modern passing NFL. In New England, the idea is that the more plays they can pack into a game, the more likely they will win; in Seattle, Pete Carroll wants to smother the game—the least amount of plays means his team will win. I don't fault people for looking at the stats and putting them in context with the modern game, but what you are seeing in Seattle is just not comparable, it's a totally different way of looking at the game, and that is not hyperbole. Every so often you have revolutions in scheme that change the NFL, this is one of those, and it's successful mainly because of the Brees', Brady's, Manning's, Rodgers. It is a strategy DESIGNED to counteract that, and Russel's first job in that strategy is to always play smart and not try to do it himself. It's not just the defense—it's the whole football team that contributes to smothering the game. It's hard to understand unless you really follow the Seahawks; I'm not trying to puff us up or anything, it's real, and real football fans would be fascinated by it.


My point here, is that Russell has uncanny ability. Fans rarely have the right context for seeing it (unless you are SEEING it every Sunday, and not just looking at stats). One of the main differences between him and stat monsters like Matt Stafford (who won't be winning anything, by the way), is that he is not asked to do the same things in a game, in fact, he's asked not to. Could he? YES. EASILY. You can't watch him play without realizing he has enormous, game-changing talent. He does, absolutely. Brees? Rodgers? Brady? I don't know yet. What I do know is that he is an iconoclast; at his best, years from now, he will never resemble these players because he is cut from a wholly different cloth. Better or worse does not enter the equation. There is only one Russell WIlson.

badbeatya
badbeatya

@konenp The kid is still learning. His Superb Owl victory may draw parallels to Trent Dilfer's, but Wilson is an elite athlete with elite talent and ability.  As far as his 'mediocre' stats?  How different do you think those stats would be if he had both Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice at his disposal?  (& yes, we all know that both those guys seem to have a history of health issues, but that is another, unrelated story)


But even without Harvin and Rice, Wilson has thrown for MORE TDs in his 1st 2 seasons than almost EVERY OTHER PLAYER IN HISTORY (and Wilson has a SB victory to go along with this distinction).  Wait, that actually exemplifies the definition of elite... Hmmmm


Now I'm not a football player, coach, expert, analyst, or commentator.  I'm just a fan like most of the readership.  GO HAWKS!!!  BUT,  I've heard/read/seen numerous football players, coaches, experts, analysts, and commentators express that Russell Wilson is ELITE, so I'll just take their word for it.

konenp
konenp

@OwenCaterwall3 @konenp @Rick57 @Serena  I saw him at Wisconsin too and he was better than Brady was at Mich but that's irrelevant to what kind of pro he is and will be.  Good QB.  Obviously not in the same category as Brees or Brady in terms of the NFL.

OwenCaterwall3
OwenCaterwall3

@konenp @Rick57 @Serena  I saw him play at Wisconsin. He is extraordinary. And I saw Brees, Carr, Cousins, Brady, Nolan Cromwell (amazing athlete) and  host of other great Qbacks. This guy can play. Lights out.

AreYouKiddingMe?
AreYouKiddingMe?

@aberg7 That is very PC of you. Read her posts. She should be spending more time in the kitchen. Did I just say that?

aberg7
aberg7

@AreYouKiddingMe? @Rick57 You can disagree with someone without falling back on uncreative, sexist insults. Try to come up with something more interesting. 

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