Can Seahawks golden boy Russell Wilson carry the team to a blitz?
by Art Thiel
Russell Wilson, Seattle's rising superstar QB, warming up during his reign at NC State University. Credit: Seth Youngbloof
Run the table? Well, that isn't realistic. Is it?
But in the last few weeks, the Seattle Seahawks have taken long strides, not just steps. In the past three games, the previously constrained offense has scored an average of 27 points. Then this week, the rookie quarterback, Russell Wilson, went all Tony Robbins after practice:
"Today is a huge day for us," he said. "It’s got to be the best day of our lives right now and tomorrow’s got to be the next best and keep going from there. That’s the way we look at it."
Years of journalism experience taught me that those kinds of sunshine statements are a threat to my vision. So I had my optic muscles surgically replaced with bridge cables to prevent terminal eye-roll.
But Wilson says these kinds of things all the time. He's a perambulating think-positive seminar, a human Hallmark card, a motivational steamroller.
Whether my bridge cables grow taut is of no matter; he believes this stuff. Most important, he gets his teammates to buy in, because the offense grows incrementally better as he gains more experience.
He is doing things rarely seen from a rookie in NFL history (see Steve Rudman's column earlier this week), especially for a third-round draftee.
Five teams had rookies open the season at quarterback this year; the most since at least 1950, and two more than the modern era mark of three in 1968. Wilson's performance is on par with heralded rookie Robert Griffin III of Washington, and better than two others taken in the first round, Indianapolis's Andrew Luck and Ryan Tannehill, a longtime Wilson pal who runs the Dolphins offense in Miami (4-6), where the Seahawks play at 10 a.m. Sunday.
Among them only Luck's team has a winning record, the same 6-4 as Seattle, and the Colts played a softer schedule, owing to last season's dreadfulness (2-14). And now, for the first time in his infant career, Wilson plays a game after having had a week off from drinking at the fire hose.
"The coaches recommended I get away," Wilson said, sounding as if he did it only under orders. "It was a good thing – let the body relax and let my mind relax a little bit. But I’m right back at it. Like I always say, there’s no time to sleep."
Yup. He always says things like that. Nobody has yet caught him lying. You know, like actually sleeping.
"He’s on, 24/7," said Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. "You get here [to the VMAC practice facility], he’s here. You leave, he’s still here. He puts a lot of effort into it and a lot of work."
"it’s always good to ease your mind [and] take everything off of it, so you can be fresh when you get back.”
Really, if Wilson didn't make so much eye contact and wasn't as sincere as a left turn at the Indianapolis 500, you have to think he's making up stuff. Check this, when he was asked about his health following the longest stretch of the most rugged football he's experienced.
“My body feels tremendous, actually," he said. "It feels like I haven’t even played a game yet. That’s a tribute to the offensive line."
Spoken like a true Golden Child.
Now Wilson's relentless, contagious optimism will be supplemented by a favorable schedule: Miami (4-6), Chicago (7-3), Arizona (4-6), Buffalo (4-6), San Francisco (7-2-1), St. Louis (3-6-1). Miami, Chicago and Buffalo are on the road, where the Seahawks are 1-4, but the Dolphins have lost three in a row and the Bears were pantsed on national TV Monday night by the 49ers, 32-7. The other road game against the Bills is indoors in neutral Toronto, and it's anybody's guess as to whether more than a few dozen Bills fans will find going through customs worth the trouble.
None of these games are easy, but, based on 10 games of evidence, all are winnable for Seattle.
The match of the regular season, as has been expected since the schedule came out, remains Dec. 23 at the Clink with the Niners, now operating with quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has less game experience than Wilson, but has replaced veteran Alex Smith, at least for this Sunday after outwitting the Bears' top-ranked defense.
While playing for low-profile Nevada in college, Kaepernick became the only player in NCAA history to pass for more than 10,000 yards and rush for more than 4,000 yards. He's a stud in the making. But he's never been yelled at for three hours at the Clink.
The Niners won the first game with the Seahawks this year, 13-6 in San Francisco on Oct. 18. This just before Wilson experienced the best day of his life, which, as we have learned, was the next day. By Christmas Eve's eve, he will have had more than two months of best days of his life.
Don't ask me to explain how that works. All I know is what my unrolled eyes see: It is working.
Run the table? Yeah. The guy doesn't sleep, doesn't get hurt. Who am I to doubt?