By Toby Durant
For those who don't know, I love Russell Wilson.
The guy impressed me hugely during his time at Wisconsin. His athleticism, accuracy and cool head stood out not just in the Big 10, but nationally. I could understand the reservations NFL teams had about him coming into April's draft: He is smaller than even Drew Brees, he didn't have the arm strength of the other QB's in his class. And yet, I could see that if given a chance, he would do well in the NFL. And as it turns out, thanks to his work ethic and an open minded coach Wilson got his chance before many thought he would, and hasn't looked back.
In the early weeks, head coach Pete Carroll and offensive co-ordinator Darrell Bevell had the kid gloves on. Keeping everything basic, and pretty predictable. And yet, in week 1 against Arizona Wilson was able to drive the offense down the field at the death, just falling short of a game winning touchdown as the ball slipped through Braylon Edwards' hands.
2 weeks later Wilson threw the infamous "Fail Mary" on Monday Night Football to beat Green Bay. He had 5 interceptions in the next 2 games, but most of those were either unfortunate situations (Anthony McCoy slipping on his break in St. Louis) or going through his receivers hands to the defender (Marshawn Lynch bobbling in Carolina), but since then Wilson's been growing in confidence, as have the coaching staff, opening up the playbook and letting him do more. And Wilson's rewarded them.
For all the compliments that top draft picks Andrew Luck and Robert Griffiin III are getting (and rightly so) for their big stats and sensational 4th quarter comebacks, Russell Wilson should be getting just as many. With a 63.4% completion rate (2nd only to Griffin), a 19 touchdowns (most) and 8 interceptions (2nd only to Griffin) Wilson is clearly getting it done for a Seahawks team who still have a chance at the NFC West crown.
Many will point to Seattle's impressive record as being a result of their fast, young and angry defense. And they are giving up the 3rd fewest points per game in the NFL at 16.8, but here's a dirty secret for you; at the end of games the Seahawks defense sucks. Week 1 Kevin Kolb came down the field on them to score, week 8 they let the Lions get a last second winner, they couldn't hold up late in either of the last 2 games, costing them against Miami and forcing Wilson to repeat his 4th quarter heroics in overtime at Soldier Field.
That's 3 of their 5 losses that have come at the death with the stellar defense being unable to come down the field. Meanwhile Wilson has 4 successful last minute drives (Counting Chicago as 2) resulting in 3 highly unlikely underdog wins. If Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin are getting major credit for the last second wins and improving their team, so should Wilson.
Now I'm not so blinkered to deny that Wilson's had more help. That defense has meant Wilson's not had to put up as many points, Marshawn Lynch is a super-reliable running back to have behind you. But the Seahawks offensive line is every bit as bad in pass protection as Indy's or Washington's (which is worrying given the high picks spent on Okung and Carpenter recently), and while Luck has Reggie Wayne to throw to Wilson has an injury-prone Sidney Rice and Golden Tate.
Personally, I'd give my Offensive Rookie of the Year vote to Robert Griffin III, but if Seattle can overhaul San Francisco and win the division, and Wilson keeps up this impressive run of form, don't be surprised if it gets handed to the 3rd round pick who wears number 3.
- Toby Durant (@TDonSport)
- The Pulling Linemen