Pete Carroll had a hard time hiding a smile while talking to reporters about rookie quarterback Russell Wilson’s performance in a 44-14 win over Kansas City Friday evening.
And why not? Carroll cracked the door for Wilson to compete for the quarterback job, and he basically kicked it down and slammed the door shut on Matt Flynn and anyone else who thought they had a shot with his performance against the Chiefs.
Wilson was impressive in his first NFL start, finishing 13 of 19 for 185 yards and two touchdown passes.
Wilson also was sacked twice, but totaled 58 rushing yards and finished with an impressive 134.8 passer rating.
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After putting up numbers against reserves in the first two games, Wilson proved that he can do the same thing against a starting NFL defense.
Through three games, Wilson is 35 of 52 (67.3 percent) for 464 yards. He’s averaged 8.9 yards per completion, has thrown for five touchdowns and just one interception. And he’s rushed 10 times for 150 yards and a touchdown.
He’s been sacked three times, holding onto the ball when facing the blitz inside the red zone.
But in a short amount of time, Wilson has emerged into that playmaker Seattle was looking for at the quarterback position.
“Honestly, this is what we had hoped to see,” Carroll said. “We wanted to see if he could just go do it again effectively and play well. And he was very comfortable in the pocket. He had good protection for the most part. He took off (running) when he needed to, and he did that really well
“He had run so much in the first two games – running meaning moving outside of the pocket – I wanted to see what would happen if he would just hold in there and do everything and read it all out. And he did exactly that. So it was a nice job by him.”
That said, with Wilson’s impressive performance and Matt Flynn unable to play because of a sore elbow, it appears the starting quarterback job is Wilson’s to lose.
Here are a couple reasons why it might be hard for Carroll not to start Wilson in the season opener against Arizona in two weeks.
He puts points on the board: The Seahawks scored on their first six drives against Kansas City – three field goals and three touchdowns. And on the seventh drive Wilson completed a 40-yard bomb to Terrell Owens and got his team in field goal position, but Steven Hauschka came up short on a 51-yard field goal. Wilson has put points on the board on 12 of 19 drives during preseason play, including eight touchdowns.
Flynn failed to lead Seattle to a touchdown in the first two preseason games.
He creates explosive plays: Offenses generally want to create at least four explosive plays a game because it makes it easier to score, rather than methodically moving the ball down the field. Most offensive coaches generally describe explosive plays as at least a 16-yard pass or a 12-yard run.
With Wilson running the show against Kansas City, the Seahawks had nine explosive plays. Further, with Wilson at quarterback, Seattle has had 16 explosive plays this preseason. Matt Flynn’s longest completion is a 14-yard pass play to Zach Miller, although Terrell Owens dropped a 46-yard pass for a touchdown, and Golden Tate would have had a 25-yard touchdown for a score against the Broncos had he came down in bounds in the back of the end zone.
He’s good during two-minute drills: Wilson led Seattle to a touchdown at the end of the first half against Kansas City, an 11-yard touchdown pass to Charly Martin, in his only opportunity to run a two-minute drill. Wilson was helped by two personal foul penalties on Kansas City linebacker Tamba Hali for roughing the passer. However, Wilson showed he can operate efficiently in those situations, something that has been a point of emphasis for the Seahawks after their struggles in those situations last year.
“The two-minute drill is huge for us because we’ve been practicing that every day,” Wilson said. “And we have to practice it more than any other NFL team. I mean it’s every day, probably two to three times a day at least, in different situations.
“You may have six different situations in the middle or at the end of practice where we’re really working on it. And going against our defense in two-minute situations is a tough challenge. And so it’s an area that you have to be very successful in to be successful in the National Football League. You see the top teams obviously in the past are great, and obviously the great quarterbacks are always great in two-minute. And so that’s something that I’m trying to continue to grow with, and continue to work on.”
He has support of the locker room: Seattle players continue to gush about Wilson’s confidence, his playmaking ability and his overall command of the offense.
It’s obvious that players in the locker room believe that Wilson has that “it” factor, and players want the best players out on the field who give them the best opportunity to win games.
“It’s just a feeling,” Seattle receiver Golden Tate said. “You get a feeling that someone is very, very special. You don’t know what it is, but you get that feeling. You get excited to see him get on the field, because you never know if he’s going to throw a perfect touchdown or juke a safety to extend a drive.
“So I’m always anxious to watch him.”
He’s healthy: Matt Flynn’s inability to play on Friday because of a sore elbow came as somewhat of a surprise. The Seahawks rested Flynn during the final two practices leading up to the Kansas City game because he had a sore arm. However, Flynn was expected to play on Friday.
But Carroll said that the team determined that Flynn couldn’t play after warming up before the game and experiencing too much pain in his elbow. Carroll said he does not know how severe Flynn’s injury is, and said that the team will further evaluate it to determine the extent of the LSU product’s injury. Carroll referred to Flynn’s elbow injury as a form of tendinitis. Whatever Flynn’s injury status is, if he can play against the Raiders, it makes it hard for him to start the season opener at Arizona. You can win the starting job from the sideline.
He does the little things: Something that continues to impress me about Wilson is his attention to detail and the subtle nuances of the game.
On Kellen Winslow’s 21-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter, Wilson said he saw that Kansas City’s defense wasn’t ready when he got to the line of scrimmage. So he got the offense set and quickly and called for the ball.
“We were going no huddle, but I recognized that they weren’t matched up right,” Wilson said. “And so I just kind of snuck up to the line real quick and called for the snap really quickly. And Kellen obviously knew he was going to be open, so I just got him the ball quickly.
“And Kellen’s such a tremendous football player. He’s got so much knowledge. We saw the same thing at the exact same time, so I kind of snuck up to the line and hurried it up a little bit.”
It’s those little things when you can take advantage of an unprepared defense that can help you win close games. And that’s not usually something you expect from a rookie who’s still trying to learn the offense.