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What, Wilson worry?
Russell Wilson had made things look so easy during the preseason, and then the Arizona Cardinals defense made things so difficult for the rookie quarterback in the Seahawks’ season-opening loss.
But at least the events of last Sunday – when Wilson was “under siege,” as coach Pete Carroll put it, by the Cardinals’ pass rush – were a good tune-up for what Wilson will face in Sunday’s home opener against the Dallas Cowboys at CenturyLink Field. It also prepared him for his Q&A session with the media on Thursday, for that matter.
Reporters came at him with the expected what-if and how-come questions generated by the 20-16 loss, but Wilson was like an 8-footer at the net in a doubles tennis match. Try as they might, they just couldn’t slip anything past him, or get him to slip up.
Q: How do you feel about your performance against the Cardinals?
A: “I’m past that now. That was the first game. That was a few days ago. Now it’s on to the next one and staying focused on what we can do to win the game. I think that’s got to be our focus.”
Q: What do you feel you struggled with last week and what do you feel you can improve on this week?
A: “I think the biggest thing is it was my first experience. It was a joy to be out there, first of all. Obviously, you want to win the game, and that’s all I care about no matter what the situation is. More than anything, we all have to communicate better and it all starts with me. I’ve just got to make sure everybody’s on the same page; I think that’s the biggest thing. And once you go out there, just play ball. That’s the biggest focus for us this week – executing when we need to when the game’s on the line; on third-down situations, and in the red zone. Our goal this week has to be better in the red zone and on third downs.”
Q: How do you feel you handled the Cardinals’ pressure, and was the tempo of the game faster than what you played against during the preseason?
A: “I wouldn’t say it was any faster. No. I think more than anything, we have to capitalize on some plays whether it’s me making the right throw at the right time or if it’s just reaching out for that first down on runs. I think we did a good job when we needed it. Put ourselves in a good situation to win the game at the end. We just came up short.”
Q: How do you feel about the play calling on the last drive (which ended with three incomplete passes from the Cardinals’ 4-yard line in the closing seconds)?
A: “To me, the play calling was great. It gave us a situation to win the game, and that’s all you can ask for.”
Hmmm. Drat. Phooey. Whatever. Pepper him all you want, this kid just isn’t going to get salty.
Yes, the Seahawks scored just 16 points despite getting two long returns from Leon Washington and two big turnovers from the defense that gave the offense the ball in Cardinals territory. Yes, they converted only 5 of 16 third-down situations, when Wilson was 5 of 9 for 35 yards. Yes, they had only one offensive play of more than 20 yards. Yes, they need to communicate better. Yes, the Cowboys’ DeMarcus Ware-led defense is capable of turning up the heat on Wilson even more than the Cardinals did.
But push the panic button? He doesn’t even know where it is, especially after only one game – even if it was a winnable game that the Seahawks let slip away. Instead, Wilson is hoping his calmness and composure can carry over to the rest of the team.
“I think the biggest challenge is just keep fighting and keep making plays,” he said. “We obviously want to complete some more explosive plays and get some more runs that are explosive and everything.
“That’s in every game, obviously. You always want to have more of those.”
And his teammates believe Wilson, even if this will be only his second regular-season start, is the one to produce them. If they provide him with better protection, and make more plays when the opportunities present themselves.
“I think he played pretty well. It was his first NFL game in the regular season,” wide receiver Doug Baldwin said. “You can talk about the preseason all you want to, but when it gets to the regular season it’s completely different.
“We put him a bind, because he was pushed to do more for us. But for what he was given, I thought he did a good job. He can only get better from here. We’re excited about that.”