"This is why you play in the NFL."
That is what Russell Wilson said today about the Seahawks' showdown Sunday night at Arizona essentially for the NFC West championship on the next-to-last weekend of the regular season.
Wilson offered his "hope" that all his injured starting offensive linemen -- center Max Unger, left tackle Russell Okung and right guard J.R. Sweezy -- will play against the blitzing Cardinals. Signs I'm reading say only Sweezy has a realistic chance to start after he sprained his ankle during last weekend's win over San Francisco yet finished that game. If Sweezy does start, that would allow Lemuel Jeanpierre to stay at center for the fifth consecutive game for Unger and Alvin Bailey to fill in for Okung, as he did in the second half last weekend. That's a far better, though still not optimal, proposition than having fourth-stringer Patrick Lewis starting at center and Jeanpierre having to play guard Sunday night.
Wilson talked about how much he and his receivers practice his scramble plays in drills such as seven-on-seven pass scrimmaging. Part of the reason rookie Paul Richardson, who missed Thursday's practice with a new hamstring injury of unknown severity, has moved up to the third wide receiver and a prominent target of Wilson's on third downs the last couple games because of his improvement in breaking off routes and improvising along with Wilson on his many scrambles.
'They do a tremendous job," Wilson said of his receivers. "Sometimes I go all different directions and they don't know where I'm going -- I don't, either."
When I asked Wilson about his longevity and the fact he's taken every snap this season and has never been on an injury report for any day of his three NFL seasons, he responded that his goal is to never miss a practice in his career. The Seahawks are indeed fortunate to have their starting quarterback entirely intact for the last three seasons; just look around the league. Heck, just look at the Cardinals team they are playing Sunday.
I'm writing more about that this weekend The News Tribune.
QB Russell Wilson
December 18, 2014
(On the primetime game this week with a lot at stake against a great team) This is what you play in the NFL for – this is why people watch the games. It will be a great game, a great matchup. It will be a physical game, an NFC West battle. We’re looking forward to it – I know they are too. Going on the road is never easy. We’re going to have great communication and everybody be engaged and capitalize when we need to.
(On how he works on his escape-ability) I think my quarterback coach, Coach Carl Smith and I, we work on escape-ability stuff and try to play the game but at the same time it is kind of instincts and trusting your guys. You get some reps of it but we don’t necessarily focus on that the whole practice or anything like that. I think it’s also playing a lot of games. I started in 50-plus games in college and then I think it’s 50-plus games now in the National Football League so you play a lot of games and understand and trust the guys you have around you.
(On how long it takes the receivers to get on the same page as you) I think they do a tremendous job because sometimes they go all different directions and they never really know where I’m going – I don’t either. They do a great job, a phenomenal job of getting open for me and working to get open and it’s tough on the defense because having a play that can go longer than four or five seconds, sometimes it tires those guys out. That kind of breaks their rules a little bit. That’s not anything that we rely on, I think it’s something we do really well and we can always improve on but it is a huge part of our game for sure.
(On distributing the ball more to the wide receivers) Well, I think how they played the game against us last time. We were able to get the ball to different guys and we want to be able to share the ball around – equal opportunity. I think for us, I’m always hoping for the open guy and trying to facilitate the ball to the right guy at the right time like I always say. Our receivers have done a great job as of late and they continue to show up for me. The tight ends are doing a great job of being physical and making big time catches and obviously the running backs too.
(On scenarios changing because of injuries to the offensive line) No—in terms of offensive line and what we have going on, first of all, I think the guys are going to be ready to go hopefully, but if not, we’ve played a lot of football games with a lot of different guys and that’s the great part about it. I talked about this several weeks ago when we were going through those injury battles and the next guys step up. The great thing is that you have Lem [Lemuel Jeanpierre] who is a great center—who has played a lot of football. You have Patrick Lewis too—who is a great center and played against them last time ironically and did a phenomenal job so we have guys that can step up and play at a high level—that’s a tribute to John Schneider and Coach Carroll and how they get them prepared and just bringing the right guys in. So I’m looking forward to it—whatever 10 other guys step in the huddle, I’m looking forward to being out there on the field with them.
(On the fans being in Arizona) Well hopefully we’ll have a whole bunch of Seattle Seahawks fans and 12s there at the game. I remember last time we had tons of them—this is a huge game and we know the crowd will be electric and we know that it will be a lot of fun. The field is one hundred yards—fifty three and a third as we always say so when you get out there, you just try to play the game with poise, calmness to you, but also have an attack mode mentality.
(On handling Arizona’s blitzing) Well I think a lot of it is protecting the football, not make any bad decisions when they bring their pressures, just be smart, understand what they’re trying to do. At the same time, I like it when teams bring pressure because there’s a lot of green grass in the flats, over the top of the defenders, and in front of the guys so you can make a lot of plays. If we can make that catch and that throw, I’m just going to come down to one-on-one matchups and we can to do that. I think some guys can have some big time games.
(On what is the identity of the Cardinals defense) I think their identity is to play a very physical game, they’re going to fly around to the football, and they’re going to bring a lot of pressure. You expect that—it’s going to be a lot of one-on-one matchups, like I said; we’re just going to have to make the plays. We look forward to that—that’s what championship football is all about and stepping up in those moments.
(On him meeting Ryan Lindley) Yes, I’ve met Ryan Lindley—we’re actually decent friends. I’ve gotten to know him over the past few years: Combine, training, getting ready, we had some events together and we went to PAO together too as well and we were able to get to know each other really well then. He’s a good football player and I have a lot of respect for him and he’ll be excited. I’m excited for him to be out there and I’m sure he’ll do a great job—hopefully not too good.
(On him improving on quicker passes) Well that’s where my biggest focus is right now for me personally is just to continue to grow as a quarterback, continue to develop, work on my craft—before practice and after practice. When I’m watching film and understanding what I can do better, always getting the ball out on time and in rhythm. It makes it tough for a defense when you can get the ball out of your hands, but you also have the ability to escape as a factor and those guys wear down and get tired. Hopefully, I’m able to get the ball out and make some completions, stay on the field, and capitalize in the red zone.
(On missing any games in high school or college) I didn’t miss any in high school and I didn’t miss any in college. I missed maybe one game in college while at NC State, I actually got knocked out my first college game ever and that was a good experience. We were playing South Carolina—I think we could have won that game if that wasn’t the case, but I got knocked out. The next week, I was cleared to play. I played a couple snaps and I think we were playing William and Mary, but I didn’t play the entire game. I’ve been fortunate enough not to miss too many games—I try to get down, I try to play smart. Like I always say, I’m short and stalky for a reason so I can take a couple of hits every once and a while.
(On how he got knocked out of the game) I just got a knee to the head—it was kind of one of those freak accidents; nothing that I could have really done.
(On what continuity does for his game) Well in terms of continuity of being out on the field, I think that’s a major part of it. One of my goals is to never miss a practice in my career—it’s just one of those things that I want to do. So hopefully that’s the case, but you just take it one day at a time and you keep progressing, you keep trying to learn, you keep taking notes, and you just keep studying as much as I can learn. I try to take care of my body—I learned a lot from some veterans when I first got here and asking questions. I remember Leon Washington and Michael Robinson, I use to ask them questions about what they ate, how do they rehab, is there a certain schedule that they do, and anytime that I meet a Hall of Fame quarterback or a player in general, I always try to ask them, ‘What was the difference for you, how did you go from good to great and great to a Hall of Famer,’ and all those types of questions I try to ask. A lot of it is just consistency—can you be out on the field, can you take care of your body, can you be discipline enough to do the things that it takes to be out on the field and that’s one of the things I pride myself on. I try to get here early in the morning, do my routine—I stay consistent to my routine and that’s one of the things I try to say too is, ‘Don’t get bored with consistency.’ Just try to be out there and continue to do the right things as much as you can.
(On his biggest diet change) I try to stay away from a whole bunch of sugar that helps me. My dad died of diabetes so I try to be real particular about that—that’s probably the main thing that I struggled with and I do have to eat certain things—carbs and stuff like that to keep my body going through the season, but those are kind of the main things that I try to watch.
(On how his connection with Paul Richardson has improved) He’s done an incredible job—you got to give a lot of credit to him for what he’s been able to do and the constant progression that Paul Richardson is on and the rest of the guys too, but Paul as a rookie, he’s continuing to develop, he’s got great speed, he’s got great quickness, he reaches for the football extremely well, and he understands the concepts. So he does a great job and he continues to work against some of the best corners in the league every day. I think that’s a great experience for him and it gives him a great opportunity to be successful.
(On K.J. Wright’s extension) Well to have a guy like K.J. Wright on our football team for a long time that’s a great thing. He’s one of the best in the National Football League and he’s a long, long-armed, fast, and physical defensive player. He’s got great smarts—going against him in practice is never easy and to have him on my team, I’m definitely excited about that—he’s a phenomenal football player.
(On why he’s having more success as a passer) Well I think the game dictates itself—I just try to play the game the way it comes to me. Sometimes it’s there, sometimes it’s not, and sometimes you have to sit there and edit and it’s always good to be able to sit there and make the throw, but sometimes defenses make a play—they have great players too. So sometimes you have to improvise a little bit, but I do try to pride myself to continue to try and learn as much as I can about what can I eliminate as quick as possible and how can I get the ball out—the quicker the better.