Turns out the education of a rookie quarterback can be a two-way street.
Because as much as Russell Wilson says he has to learn, he’s also teaching a franchise, a city and a league what he’s capable of right now.
Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll still won’t say it’s Wilson’s job to lose, but his performance Friday was a pretty compelling argument.
So the three things we learned about the Seahawks this week, not surprisingly, revolve around the quarterback who answers to two last names and wears No. 3.
Three things we learned
1. See Russell throw: Wilson not only got to face Kansas City’s starters, but he got to play behind Seattle’s starting offensive line. That meant better protection, which provided Seattle’s coaches a chance to see how willing he was to hang in the pocket and throw the ball downfield. The results were pretty convincing as he completed 13 of his 19 passes, and after running eight times in the first two games, Wilson had two rushes against the Chiefs. He also was sacked twice – one of those the result of a cornerback blitz.
2. See Russell run: It’s one thing to play sandlot football when you’re facing a defense cobbled together from guys scrambling for a job. It’s quite another to tuck and run when you’re facing the starters with defined roles and playing experience. But darned if Wilson didn’t elude starting linebacker Jovan Belcher on his second-quarter scramble and buckle the knees of two Chiefs linemen on his way to a 31-yard gain. He also had a 27-yard rush in which he was barely touched. In three exhibition games, Seattle has six runs of 20 or more yards, and Wilson is responsible for four of them.
3. See Russell step up to the challenge: His statistics from the first two exhibition games included a footnote.* Well, he went up against Kansas City’s starters Friday, a group that included Pro Bowlers like defensive end Tamba Hali and linebacker Derrick Johnson, and Wilson was just as effective, passing for 185 yards, rushing for 58 and leading Seattle on six scoring drives on its first six possessions. So unless you want to chalk all that up to the fact the Chiefs didn’t play Brandon Flowers, their best cornerback, then a tip of the cap is in order. Wilson’s quarterback rating of 119.4 ranks No. 1 in the NFL after Friday’s games.
*-Those stats were compiled against the opponent’s scrubs.
Three things we’re still trying to figure out
1. The significance of Seattle’s blowout victory? You can’t say that steamrollering an opponent like the Seahawks did Friday in Kansas City is a bad thing, but it’s also good to keep in mind that it doesn’t prove anything, either. The last time the Seahawks won their first three exhibition games: 2009 under coach Jim Mora. Seattle finished 5-11. The last time Seattle scored more than the points it totaled Friday: 1997, Dennis Erickson’s third year. The Seahawks went out and lost their first two games by a combined score of 76-17.
2. Is there a spot for Terrell Owens? He had another drop, and while it was nullified by a roughing-the-passer penalty, that didn’t change the fact he didn’t hold on. He also caught a 40-yard pass on the sideline, showing he still has the speed to separate from defensive backs and then demonstrating the ability to track the ball, which was a bit underthrown. He’s in great shape and remains a big-play threat on a team that didn’t have a player catch more than 51 passes a year ago. But with Braylon Edwards also playing well, Owens is no sure thing to make the roster. This could be a call that comes down to the wire.
3. Is Seattle’s defense really this good? The Chiefs gained 11 yards total on their first four possessions, and Seattle’s first-string defense has scored as many touchdowns as it has allowed this month. And while it’s easy to dismiss that kind of dominance because it’s only August, keep in mind the Seahawks haven’t been blitzing linebackers at all. The closest thing they’ve come to providing anything other than a vanilla pass rush is in their Bandit package, which features Winston Guy as a sixth defensive back who is a designated pass-rusher.