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Postseason pressure? Russell Wilson refuses to feel it
The players’ schedule read “off” the past two days. But, of course, Russell Wilson was “on.”
Monday, the team’s rookie quarterback was in to lead the rest of the Seahawks’ rookie class through a workout at Virginia Mason Athletic Center – a routine initiated by Wilson when coach Pete Carroll started giving the players a “Victory Monday” after the overtime win in Chicago that kicked off the team’s five-game winning streak to close the regular season.
Tuesday, Wilson was in to get a jump on this week’s preparation for Sunday’s wild-card playoff game against the Washington Redskins at FedExField – an “off” day ritual for quarterbacks around the league, and especially the “separation is in the preparation” mentality that Wilson preaches and practices.
And why not? Sleeping in can be done in the offseason, not that Wilson does it even then. New Year’s Day gives way to the start of the new season – the postseason – for the rookie QB and his team.
Can this game be any bigger for Wilson? He grew up in Richmond, Va., which is less than a two-hour drive from Landover, Md., where the Redskins play their home games. The quarterback on the other team is Robert Griffin III, the second pick overall in April’s NFL Draft – when Wilson was a third-round selection – and expected to be Wilson’s primary competition for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.
As unlimited as his talents have been on the field this season, Wilson has limited the effervescence of his comments to the media when asked about, among other things: Throwing 26 touchdown passes to tie the NFL rookie record that was set by Peyton Manning in 1998; leading the Seahawks to 11 victories, the third-highest total in franchise history behind the 2005 (13) and 1984 (12) teams; fashioning a 100.0 passer rating, the second best by a rookie QB in league history behind RGIII (102.4); becoming the first rookie QB to lead his team to an unbeaten record at home (8-0), and joining Matt Hasselbeck as the only Seahawks’ QB to do it; shoving the zone-read option into high gear by rushing for 489 yards, the most ever by a Seahawk QB; passing for 3,118 yards, making him the seventh Seahawks QB to surpass 3,000; beating the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers and Patriots’ Tom Brady in head-to-head matchups; and rushing for three TDs (against the Bills) and throwing four TD passes (against the 49ers) in back-to-back games.
But surely this week will be different, especially in a one-on-one conversation at his cubicle in the locker room on Monday rather than the group interview sessions in the hallway that he does each Thursday. Surely you don’t know Russell Wilson if you’re buying into that one, or expecting anything more or anything less than what has been delivered by the rookie QB to this point.
Q: You’re the first rookie quarterback in franchise history to lead the Seahawks into the playoffs, so you must take some pride in that?
A: “It’s going to be a great game. We’re really excited about the opportunity to go to Washington and play there. It will be a great battle.”
Q: You’ll be playing basically in your backyard, right?
A: “It is home for me. It will be exciting to play there and be back there. But it is a business trip. So we’re excited about the opportunity.”
Q: There is going to be a lot of talk this week about you going against Robert Griffin III in the matchup of rookie quarterbacks. How will you approach that?
A: “It’s pretty awesome. Obviously he was the No. 2 pick overall and I was a third-round pick. So it’s a great opportunity to play a great quarterback, and their football team. But I’m playing the Redskins, we’re playing the Redskins. I’m not playing him.”
Steady as he throws. Steady as a runs. Steady as he talks. Wilson has arrived at this lofty stage of his rookie season by continuing to do all the things that helped him help his team have one of the most successful regular seasons in franchise history.
Told of the above exchange, coach Pete Carroll smiled and offered, “That’s Russell. And that’s why you have to love this kid. As I’ve been saying all season, he is special.” Read