The Incredible Development of Russell Wilson

Was Wilson ever really considered for the role of Qb1? Credit: Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE

Yesterday, I sat down to watch some game tape with the purpose to re-watching every preseason snap taken by Russell Wilson. I fully expected the Seahawks to name him starting QB today, and I thought it would be fun to put together a full scouting report on him for when that happened.

It turns out the Pete Carroll decided that he didn’t agree with my schedule, and announced Wilson the starter yesterday afternoon instead. So much for my timing, right? But it also gave me a chance to spend more time on each of Wilson’s snaps and really look at all the details; the footwork, the arm angles, the ball placement. Everything.

The results of this exercise were completely unexpected. Any scouting report on Wilson from any one of the games would be completely invalid for the other 2. Wilson simply hasn’t been the same QB in any 2 games. And it’s not just that he’s changed, he’s simply gotten better each week.

I’ve been scouting QBs a long time now, and I’ve never seen a player develop as fast as Wilson has. His evolution in 2 weeks time is what you ideally expect to see out of a rookie over an 8-10 week period, maybe longer. Its why most rookie benefit greatly by just practicing for at least part of their rookie season.

If you look back at the Titans game, Wilson seemed to be scared of the pocket. There were a number of designed rollouts, and a few plays in which pressure forced him to scramble to extend the play, but there were also a number of plays in which he should have stayed put.

2 plays in particular stood out. In the first he decide to run to his right outside the pocket when the correct move was to simply take a half step to his left and then step forward. Doing what he did cut the field in half, and Braylon Edwards was open on the far side of the field. The other play was an odd one in which Wilson dropped back, then suddenly bailed out of the pocket to his right despite the fact that there was no pressure at all.

It was telling that, despite playing in a West Coast Offense that is built on timing and precision, Wilson threw just one pass from the pocket in rhythm, and that was his interception.

I think this is why Wilson didn’t get the start vs. Denver the following week as he was supposed to. I wrote after that game that perhaps Wilson was never really going to be given a chance to start. Having looked back at the tape, I think it was more that Wilson simply wasn’t ready, and needed to show he could actually run the offense before being given the chance.

Please don’t think that I’m just being negative about Wilson here. He made plenty of plays, and definitely flashed his tremendous potential. I’ve just chosen to highlight those plays because they contrast so completely with how he’s played more recently.

Looking at the tape from the Denver game, Wilson seemed much more comfortable in the pocket. He stood tall and delivered a number of balls on time. He also was willing to scramble to his left, something he refused to do against the Titans.

Watching the the Denver tape immediately after the Titans tape really showed me the big change in Wilson. He no longer had to rely on his athleticism like he did in the first game. He was able to actually run the offense at times and look like a West Coast Offense QB.

Not that Wilson didn’t use his athleticism to make plays against Denver. He did, and plenty of them, but they seemed to come only when the defense took away almost everything else. His stat line wasn’t that different between the first 2 games, but his play from a scouting perspective was so different it was barely comparable.

Its one thing to so that against players whom most wont be in the league anymore once rosters are cut to 53. Its something entirely different to do so against NFL starters. And yet, against the Chiefs, Wilson had his best game of the three, by far.

Against the Chiefs, the Seahawks offense looked inefficient early with Wilson at the helm, but that wasn’t a product of Wilson’s play. The run blocking was substandard on the first 2 drives, and there were some dropped balls. The only play in which Wilson “missed” on was his pass down the sideline to a well covered Zach Miller when there was an open player on the far side of the field.

On that play, the pre-snap read suggested cover-2, making Miller the primary target. The Chiefs instead had man coverage on Miller. While it wasn’t the correct pass on Wilson’s part, it is still encouraging that he recognized the cover-2 look, so I’ll give him a pass on that play. He’ll learn to check off of Miller after he sees man coverage, once he has a little experience.

During those first 3 drives, the only reason the Seahawks managed those 9 points was because of the plays Wilson made with his legs. When the rest of the offense bogged down, he picked them up. It was impressive, especially against NFL starters on defense, but it wasn’t what I was hoping to see from the offense.

After the first 3 possessions, the rest of the offense began to get things going. The running game got going and the receivers started getting open more regularly. At this point Wilson looked fully in control of the offense. He stayed in the pocket and flung the ball around like a seasoned pro.

Then came the 2-minute drill run by Wilson right before halftime. Mostly no-huddle, against a dime package defense when the Chiefs knew Wilson was going to throw on every play, and Wilson diced them like he was making a salad. He was calm. He made the right adjustments at the line. He made the right throws. He ran the offense.

The difference between that two-minute drill drive and the way he played vs the Titans is staggering considering it had only been 13 days. Thats the type of development that normally takes months to happen.

Wilson’s development is far from complete. I think he still has a long ways to go before he reaches his potential, but thanks to a couple of incredible weeks, he’s far enough along in his development to be the starting QB from day 1.

Topics: Russell Wilson, Seahawks, Seattle Seahawks

Want more from 12th Man Rising?  
Subscribe to FanSided Daily for your morning fix. Enter your email and stay in the know.
  • SeahawkSon

    Thanks for this article. Solid analysis. It’s really amazing to watch a young man develop so quickly before your eyes. Analysts who aren’t watching closely can bang on all day and pontificate their lazy opinion, but when you look at RW’s body of work, from his first day at camp until running the O at yesterday’s practice, it’s simply stunning.

    • 12thMan_Rising

      I think it’s simply easier for most to look at the stat line and use that to determine if someone played well or not, rather than looking at the tape and figuring out in what way those stats were earned. It’s lazy analysis, but unfortunately its extremely common.

  • Biestieboy

    Sorry, but this is not solid analysis. Like many pro fans,
    you obviously do not follow the college game very closely and as a result, you
    are really ill informed about Russell. You have focused so much on his height,
    but if you had known his prior body of work, his so-called rapid development would
    have been no surprise to you. Wilson threw for over 11,000 yards and 109 TDs, against
    only 30 interceptions, in college, and already proved his height is not a
    factor in playing with and against some very large linemen. As many people have
    commented in other forums, he is really not like a rookie, as few quarterbacks
    are four-year starters in both high school and college. So, he is simply not
    used to sitting on the sidelines. The only time he did so was when he red-shirted
    during his first year of college.

    Wilson is smart (finished college in 3 years and is already
    very close to finishing his masters degree) and is already nearly 24. He has
    always been extremely focused and for a young man, has clear goals for what he
    wants to accomplish. Yes, of course there has been further growth since he
    arrived in Seattle, but if you followed RW from his first days at NC State
    through his one year at Wisconsin, you would know that what you call developing
    quickly is simply the way he has always done things. For example, after
    arriving at Wisconsin in July 2011, he learned the playbook in three weeks. He
    immediately earned the starting job and after a few weeks of practice, was
    voted captain by his teammates. He
    is always the first to arrive at practice and the last to leave. While many
    other players relish the free time they have away from practice, Wilson uses it
    to study his playbook and watch more game film…not with the team, but on his
    own.

    His ascendancy to the starting role will not surprise anyone
    who has been paying attention.

TEAMFeed More Seahawks news from the Fansided Network

Comments 6

NFL Analyst Adam Schein Blasts Seahawks’ Repeat Chances

Comments 3

Report: Seahawks got one prime-time home game due to ‘recent blowouts’

Comments 0

Seahawks senior personnel executive Scot McCloughan resigns unexpectedly

Hot on the Web From seahawks.com