You could see by the look on the face of the out of uniform Matt Flynn that he might realize his starting aspirations are starting to slip away. Russell Wilson looked like a seasoned veteran Friday against the Chiefs. But he’s just a rookie third round draft pick in only his third pre-season game, and first start. Flynn can be forgiven for thinking the job was his. When he signed with Seattle all he had to do was beat out Tavaris Jackson. But NOBODY expected anything like what Russell Wilson showed us in his first start in game 3 of this pre-season. Wilson was not just phenomenal himself, he made the entire offense look as if they were in mid-season form as they scored on their first six possessions, including 2 touchdowns. He was in complete control from the first snap to his departure mid-way through the third quarter, which is all the time he needed to destroy a very respectable Kansas City Chiefs defense. After the game Wilson gave the team all the credit, saying the team had the help of some great runs from Robert Turbin, and a nifty 90 yard punt return from Golden Tate, and a 75 yard pick-six from Pro-bowler Earl Thomas. But I submit this is the kind of play that can happen on a team when they are inspired by the performance of one individual. Things tend to snowball… Just ask Kansas City, who found themselves on the ugly end of a 44-14 drubbing, and it wasn’t even that close. The Chiefs had just one decent long scoring drive for a TD in the first half and added one more in garbage time.
Teams and players sometimes come out of nowhere to dominate the league. Of course it’s not an accident at all, but to those who don’t follow a teams development over several years, it seems kind of sudden. I recall the year the Rams rolled out an unknown quarterback and former grocery clerk by the name of Curt Warner who proceeded to set the league on fire with his passing. They eventually called that offense “The Greatest Show on Turf” after an unlikely Super Bowl win. Warner will probably end up in the Hall of Fame along with several of his receivers. The Warner story was probably much more unlikely than what could be about to happen to the Seahawks if they decide to put Russell Wilson under center. That Rams season probably started out a lot like this one is for the Hawks, with a new QB who isn’t a household name quietly emerging and eventually convincing the coaches he should be the starting quarterback. So, is the little secret up here in the northwest (no pun intended) about to be unleashed on the rest of the NFL? If “unconventional” Pete Carroll goes the way I’m thinking he’ll go, the answer is YES.
Based on Friday’s Seahawks performance fans should believe something special is happening in Hawk-Ville. What was initially characterized as an outside chance by most sportswriters is quickly turning into a foregone conclusion. After three comparably amazing performances Wilson has shown he is for real. Cautious optimism from the first two pre-season games is giving way to open boasting that Pete Carroll and John Schneider might just have snookered the rest of the league and drafted the best quarterback in the 2012 draft in the third round. This is a draft class that includes Andrew Luck, RGIII, Ryan Tannehill, and Brandon Weedon. Of course they all have yet to play this week, so let’s wait and see where they are after Saturday, but Wilson’s Quarterback Rating was a ridiculous 135 this week.
I know, I know…. It’s JUST the pre-season, and my fellow writers and 12th Man Rising readers are probably wondering what am I getting all worked up about. Ok, fair enough. But answer me this: When was the last time you saw a rookie QB, from his very first snap, tear up the competition so convincingly in the pre-season? Anyone? Usually you hear about rookies having horrible pre-seasons as they “learn the system” and maybe they have a fairly decent season once they get their NFL legs under them. Wilson is different.
Let’s calibrate the scale a little bit here v.s other “veteran” QBs. Wilson is throwing where only his receivers can catch the ball. He’s running out of trouble for big yardage when the pocket collapses. He’s putting touch on the ball in the red zone. He’s finding 2nd and 3rd options when primary receivers are covered. He’s playing smart with few mistakes. If he’s this good this early in his career, doesn’t it follow that he might actually improve over the course of the regular season? After all, it would seem the relatively minor task (for Wilson anyway…) of “learning the system” is pretty well in the can. Now it’s all about gaining game experience, getting more familiar with his receivers, and adding “his plays” to the playbook; i.e. plays that are specifically designed for Wilson’s style of play. And to lay one myth to rest; it’s clear, and Pete Carroll said so in a post-game interview, that Wilson’s diminutive height is a complete non-factor. Carroll emphatically stated he’s “seen nothing at all” related to height-caused errors. The question about Wilson’s height is answered. Done, over, put to bed.
So, how good can this team be? Well, can you see any team in the NFC West other than possibly the 49ers beating the team you saw Friday night in the first half? With an amazing playmaking quarterback running a punishing offense and a top 5 defense that will keep handing Wilson and the offense the ball when they’re not scoring themselves, might the Hawks surprise a few teams? I had the Seahawks at 10-6 in my best case scenario. I’m going to have to go back over that schedule. I think there are a few good teams with dubious defenses, like Green Bay, Dallas, or perhaps New England, who are ripe for an upset. That would certainly set the Seahawks up to be that “team from nowhere” this season, wouldn’t it?