Russell Keeps on Rolling

When Russell Wilson was taken in the third round of the 2012 NFL draft after just one year in Wisconsin, there was more than a chuckle under many people’s breath. After defying athletic expectations in the 2012 preseason and taking charge of the team like a war-tattered veteran, his detractors began to trail off.

The rest is quite literally history.

With 26 touchdowns in his first season, he vaulted among names like Marino and Manning. Even in a heartbreaker against the Falcons and Matt Ryan that same year, he passed for more yards than any rookie ever in a playoff game. Rumblings of a Seahawks team finally ready to compete for a Lombardi Trophy began to spread. The following year Seattle left no doubt in a blowout of the Broncos in Super Bowl 48.

While Seattle’s defense has been historically good over that time, Wilson was, and remains the lynchpin of the franchise’s most recent success. Numbers don’t lie—Wilson was the first QB in NFL history with a passer rating of over 95.0 in each of his first four seasons, and is already ranked second all-time (min. 1200 attempts) with a score of 101.6. Only future Canton, Ohio resident Aaron Rodgers has proved better.

Despite a miserable start to their 2015 campaign, Wilson shined while his offensive line stumbled—finishing the year ranked 30th out of 32 teams in pass protection. Over the last five games of that season, Wilson was unstoppable, becoming the only quarterback in NFL history to throw 3-or-more touchdowns and zero interceptions over five consecutive games. He broke numerous Seahawks single season passing records that year, including most passing yards (4,024), most passing touchdowns (34) and highest passer rating (110.1).

“The idea that Wilson can’t operate from the pocket is tired and silly,” writes ESPN’s Sheil Kapadia. “In his first four seasons, he completed 67.8 percent of his passes (fifth), averaged 8.16 yards per attempt (first) and posted a passer rating of 105.9 (second) on throws from inside the pocket.”

Last Sunday playing on a sprained MCL and a bum ankle, Wilson finished 23 of 32 for 309 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions. In the press conference following their 27-17 victory over the Jets, Wilson answered a question about his inhuman durability.

“I think a lot of it starts with mentality, how are you going to approach a little bump in the road, adversity,” Wilson said, “the Seahawks trainers have been amazing in keeping me well.”

With healthy receivers coming back to bolster Wilson’s options from the pocket like Jimmy Graham and Paul Richardson, this is a team whose passing attack could be their best ever.

“When we get back [a week] from now, we’re going to get healthier. The roster that we’ve talked about to you guys, and told you how competitive it is, is going to show up,” Coach Pete Carroll said.

If this is what the team looks like beat up, 2016 could end up looking a lot like a particular 43-8 victory in 2013, and Wilson could finally earn the MVP title he has so thoroughlyearned.

Les may be reached at
ltobias@su-spectator.com

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