Russell Wilson: Mastering the Game

(Seattle Pi.com)

It isn’t a stretch to think Russell Wilson is capable of leading the Seattle Seahawks to Super Bowl glory.

In his first two seasons, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson hasn’t posted the glamour numbers or highlights of his NFL contemporaries. All the 75th pick in the 2012 draft has done is put up win after convincing win, while remaining cool under fire.

If Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman is the Seattle Seahawks outspoken assassin, Russell Wilson is their silent killer. Though cast as polar opposites, each is driven by being seen as just not good enough throughout their lives.

What Wilson lacks in physical stature he more than makes up for with a cerebral approach with the vigilance of a surgeon. Wilson’s early numbers aren’t as dazzling as Carolina’s Cam Newton, but are no less impressive. He is the only quarterback to begin his career with back- to-back 100+ QB passer ratings. He has passed for 52 touchdowns to only 19 interceptions (9 this season). Deservedly, the Seahawks defense and running back Marshawn Lynch get most of the ink and game highlights, but it’s Wilson who is the architect of an offense whose leading receiver caught a respectable 64 balls.

At first glance, Wilson resembles a young man hired to help move the chains during games on game day. At 5’11”, he’s not the ideal height for a starting quarterback in the NFL. From his collegiate days at NC State and later at Wisconsin, Wilson has heard how his height was a drawback and would ultimately keep him from reaching NFL stardom. Prior to the 2012 NFL Draft ESPN Monday Night Football analyst Jon Gruden said of Wilson, “If he was 6’5″, he’d probably be the No. 1 pick in the draft.” Gruden continued, “The only issue with Russell Wilson is his height. That might be the reason he’s not picked in the first couple of rounds.”

Head coach Pete Carroll still had the taste of USC’s cafeteria food in his mouth when he selected Wilson in the third round. The Seahawks already signed free agent quarterback Matt Flynn to a three-year, $20.5 million deal with $9 million guaranteed. Throughout training camp and the preseason Wilson outplayed Flynn — winning the starting job in the process. The Seattle brass backed Carroll’s decision despite what was being said and written around the league about a rookie getting the nod over a top free agent signee.

In 2012, Wilson led Seattle to an 11-5 record and a playoff win. His rookie season totaled 3,118 yards, 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions along with 94 rushes for 489 yards and 4 scores.

The decision to start Russell Wilson has paid off lottery ticket dividends while Matt Flynn’s multi-millionaire status has produced chump change results. Save your pity for Flynn as he has found a new home in the NFL’s recycling bin of under skilled yet overpaid signal callers.

Wilson improved in every statistical category from the previous season and remains a problem to defensive coordinators — who have yet to get a read on him. Having Marshawn Lynch in the backfield serves as a plus because it doesn’t make Wilson the lone running threat and keeps the defense on edge. Fake hand-offs and gadget are considered on every snap. Wilson’s ability to extend any play makes him Seattle’s most lethal offensive weapon. Being caught on an island of indecision could mean six points.

Sports is in an age of relativity. In order for us to stay in sync with the past we look at players, teams and coaches from today and look for comparisons between the two. I don’t believe any of us has seen Russell Wilson’s comparative equal. I’ve heard Doug Flutie’s name thrown out there, but Wilson’s 32 career starts are nearly half of what Flutie had for his entire NFL career (66). Pound for pound Wilson’s equal may be pioneer Fritz Pollard, Hall of Fame quarterback of the Akron Pros. Like Wilson, Pollard was small in stature (5’9″, 165 lbs.), but was an enormous dilemma for the opposition when the huddle broke. Unfortunately, most of what we know about Pollard is through hearsay and limited grainy film. Wilson’s game is alive and well in 3D, HD or LED and by linking the two, I can see where Pollard and Wilson are one in the same.

A win for the Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks will mark the unofficial end to the era of Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and Ben Rothelisberger, thus opening the door for Robert Griffin III, Colin Kaepernick, Andrew Luck, Cam Newton and others. Expect Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers to be pushed to the front of the latter. It also means Wilson being the second African-American quarterback to claim the Vince Lombardi trophy as his own.

Unlike Doug Williams, Wilson will have an opportunity to win several Super Bowls and not live with the fear of being blackballed from the league.

History literally runs in Wilson’s veins, his great-great grandfather was the slave of a Confederate colonel — who was freed after the Civil War. His grandfather, Harrison B. Wilson Jr. is the former president of Norfolk State University and his late father Harrison Benjamin Wilson III had a cup of coffee with the San Diego Chargers. Wilson is also said to have Native American ancestry.

Who said history was on Peyton Manning’s side?

 

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