Seattle Seahawks

Russell Wilson hopes to overcome passing struggles with poise

Even your mailman seems to have an opinion on Russell Wilson.

He doesn’t look right. His can’t throw in the rain. He looks jittery. He’s too short.

Ultimately, it’s like complaining the sun’s too bright.

The Seattle Seahawks (6-3) enter Sunday’s game at the Kansas City Chiefs (6-3) riding their first three-game winning streak since last January’s postseason romp to their Super Bowl title.

Yet, Puget Sound’s freaking out over the usually precise, mistake-free Wilson having his fourth multiple-interception game of his career last weekend.

Wilson’s 10-for-17, 172-yard passing day against the New York Giants included two more sacks. But it also included impeccable decision making on read options. That led to Seattle’s franchise-record 350 yards on the ground. Wilson joined Michael Vick and Billy Kilmer as the only NFL quarterbacks since 1961 with three 100-yard rushing games in a season, and last weekend his outside runs opened inside lanes for Marshawn Lynch’s 140 yards and four rushing touchdowns.

Above all, Wilson helped the Seahawks win, 38-17. It was Seattle’s largest margin of victory since February’s Super Bowl rout of Denver.

“My accuracy’s been a little bit off, for whatever reason,” Wilson said before practice Thursday. “It’s just, I keep believing in myself. I’m not going to doubt myself. I’ve played a lot of great football, at times. I just believe that every time I’ve got the ball in my hands I’m going to make something happen. That’s never going to change. My confidence never wavers.

“Sometimes you go through a downward slump. But as long as you find ways to win, that’s all I care about.”

But … but …

Wilson’s win over the Giants came after victories over the Oakland Raiders 30-24 in which he had his sixth sub-50-percent passing day of his career and at the Carolina Panthers 13-9. In that Panthers game Oct. 26 he was 16-for-28 passing until a perfect 4-for-4 on the final, game-winning drive that ended with his touchdown throw to Luke Willson with 47 seconds left.

Wilson says faulty footwork and rushing of his throws have caused his erratic throwing lately. He’s got a reason to rush his passes. He’s spent the past two seasons, and especially the past six weeks, scrambling pell-mell behind an offensive line that has been too decimated by injuries and/or too ineffective to provide him with consistent pass protection.

Wilson has been sacked 18 times on 277 drop backs in nine games. Most less-elusive quarterbacks would have been dumped more times with the pass rushes Wilson has faced.

For all the times he has spun, escaped danger and scrambled for big gains — against the Washington Redskins, St. Louis Rams and late at Carolina — he has spun prematurely out of the pocket in some of the relatively few other times the defense hasn’t closed in on him.

He hinted Thursday that the constant pressure is effecting his throws.

“One of my strengths is just being poised at certain times,” Wilson said. “I think I have to get back to that, get back to and I think that I have to always go back to that. Always being as calm as possible and being smooth as possible and making those throws and hitting it when it’s there.”

Pete Carroll is like your mailman. He has an opinion about how Wilson’s playing. And it’s not a Chicken Little one.

“The good thing is that we have won three games,” the Seahawks coach said, “and we can do better. We can improve.

“It sounds like there are a lot of people that are real concerned about our passing game, I’m concerned that we run the football and keep adding that factor to our style of play.

“And we like it, so we’re going to keep going.”

Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell spent September into October unwrapping the renewed, supersonic toy they had in the finally healthy Percy Harvin. The first six games were centered around getting Harvin the ball on bubble screens, hitch routes and fly sweeps.

After Seattle stunningly traded Harvin on Oct. 17 for insubordination, the offense spent two games trying to find a new center. It was leaning toward more of the run with Lynch, but the loss at St. Louis and the rally past Carolina lacked a full commitment to it.

But the last two games, Oakland and New York, Bevell has called season highs of 38 and then 45 running plays — to team-record results.

It’s the approach that won the Seahawks the franchise’s only Super Bowl nine months ago.

“We’ve been in a mode where it’s been really focused in on the running game, trying to make sure that we get that done and it’s worked out. I think it’s helped us,” Carroll said. “I think we’re more like we’ve been.”

Wilson’s two interceptions last weekend against New York give him five for the season compared to 11 touchdowns. The interceptions have him on pace to finish with exactly the number of those he had last regular season, nine. He had 10 in his rookie regular season of 2012.

But he’s on a career and near-NFL-record rushing pace for a quarterback. His 500 yards on the ground would make him the leading rusher on 18 of the league’s 32 teams. He is 539 yards from Michael Vick’s 2006 record for yards rushing by a quarterback.

The Giants played “soft,” far off the line in deeper pass coverage outside, for much of last weekend’s game. That almost dared Bevell to call more runs for Lynch. Then, after the Giants began stuffing defenders between the tackles to combat No. 24 inside, Bevell had Wilson read those looks on read-option runs outside for many of his 107 yards rushing that, for a change, weren’t mostly off scrambles because his pass protection failed.

Those fretting over Wilson’s passing are likely to see more running on Sunday at Kansas City. The Chiefs have the league’s No. 1 pass defense. Justin Houston has 12 sacks in nine games and is just off the pace of tying Michael Strahan’s NFL single-season record of 221/2 sacks from 2001.

Houston’s fellow outside linebacker Tamba Hali has four sacks.

“Knowing where those guys are, Hali and Houston, you got to know,” Wilson said. “They’re great football players, some of the best guys in the league. We’re going to have to do a great job of slowing them down.”

The running game can do that.

As for Wilson speeding up his passing game that had a 70-percent completion rate just over a month ago, Seattle’s quarterback thinks that — and an offensive uprising — are on their way.

“I believe once I get back in my groove, which hopefully will happen this week, I think it’s going to be really hard to stop us,” Wilson said, “because of how our defense is playing, how Marshawn is running.”

EXTRA POINTS

Lynch wasn’t running anywhere Thursday. He missed a second consecutive practice with the previously listed calf issue and a new rib injury. He missed practices Wednesday and Thursday last week. … TE Luke Willson practiced on a limited basis for the first time since he sprained his ankle in last weekend’s game. … MLB Brock Coyle (gluteus strain) hasn’t practiced this week. Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said if the undrafted rookie can’t start for a third consecutive time for out-again Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright would move from outside linebacker to middle with linebackers Malcolm Smith and emerging rookie Kevin Pierre-Louis sharing time in base sets outside.

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