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Even greater expectations for – and from – Russell Wilson
A year ago, Russell Wilson was working out in Florida in preparation for the NFL Scouting Combine – wondering which team might take a chance on a “too short” quarterback, when they might do it and how significant an impact he could have in his rookie season.
The answers to those concerns, of course, turned out to be: the Seahawks; in the third round; and ridiculously significant.
|AN IMMEDIATE IMPACT|
How Russell Wilson’s statistics in key categories from the 2012 season stack up against the other quarterbacks in franchise history:
Passing yards: 3,118
Completion percentage: .641
Touchdown passes: 26
Passer rating: 100.0
Rushing yards: 489
Per-carry average: 5.2 yards (on 94 rushes)
Rushing touchdowns: 4
Wilson not only had one of the best statistical seasons by a quarterback in franchise history (see chart), he always put the team first while helping the Seahawks post the third-best record (11-5) in their 37 seasons, advance to the postseason for the 12th time and win a road playoff game for the first time since 1983.
So what’s next? How big a difference can it make that Wilson will be with the team for the entire offseason, rather than making his first appearance at the rookie minicamp in May?
“There’s nobody in our building that doesn’t think that this is going to be an extraordinary offseason for this club,” coach Pete Carroll said during his season-ender media session. “It’s just knowing that all of the kids that made the team last year, and played a lot, that they get to come back.
“There’s such a big jump that happens from Year One to Year Two.”
That group also includes Bobby Wagner, the rookie middle linebacker who led the team in tackles and finished second in voting for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year; rush-end Bruce Irvin, who led all NFL rookies with eight sacks; look-what-we-found seventh-round pick J.R. Sweezy, who started both postseason games at right guard and three during the regular season after playing defensive tackle in college; running back Robert Turbin, a fourth-round draft choice who made the most of limited opportunities (4.4-yard average on 80 carries) as the backup to leading rusher Marshawn Lynch; and Jeremy Lane, a sixth-round pick who started three games at cornerback and was a force on special teams.
But that group starts with the kid QB, because of the position he plays and the way he prepares to play it.
“If we can just hope that Russell Wilson will have an average jump, he’s going to be in great shape,” Carroll said. “He’s already so determined.”
Carroll then told a story about waiting in the security line with Wilson after the team’s oh-so-close loss to the Falcons in Atlanta in the divisional round of the playoffs.
“He’s already talking about what’s coming up, and how he’s going to take the offseason,” Carroll said. “It’s going to be really important for him because we’ll gain so much out of it. We envision his ability to command the entire offense and be able to do things at the line of scrimmage that we didn’t ask him to do this year because he’ll work his way through that and he’ll figure it out.
“There will be nothing to hold him back. We won’t hold him back at all. We’ll just teach him as much as we can and get him as well prepared as possible and see how that all fits together. He’s going to have a great offseason.”
It’s just that it took Wilson awhile to get to his offseason. There was the wild-card playoff win over the Redskins in Washington, where he rallied the Seahawks from a 14-point deficit to a 24-14 victory. There was the divisional-round game against the Falcons in Atlanta, where Wilson led what should have been a game-winning seven-play, 61-yard touchdown drive in the final minutes – only to have the Falcons kick a game-winning field goal with eight seconds to play for a 30-28 victory. Then there was the Pro Bowl, where Wilson led the NFC on five consecutive scoring drives to open the second half and threw three touchdown passes in the NFC’s 62-35 victory.
Through it all, however, Wilson was anticipating what it will be like to be the starting QB from the start of the offseason – rather than not joining the team until May, which he did last spring; and then winning the job during the preseason, as he did last summer.
“I think that will help a lot,” he said. “I think that obviously being here and being in the system, being with the players that we have and getting used to the unbelievable fans that we have and being in the tough stadiums and the venues that I’ve played in in the National Football League, being used to the speed of the game, understanding that being smart in the red zone and getting rid of the ball quick in the red zone and being great on third downs is crucial to being very, very successful.
“That’s what I can’t wait for. I have that learning experience now. The goal is: What can I do with it?”
Wilson rambled through all of that after being late for his Exit Monday media session because he was studying video.
Another thing Wilson had to do last season was win over his veteran teammates. He checked that one off in emphatic fashion, as his teammates voted him the Steve Largent Award that is presented annually to the player “who best exemplifies the spirit, dedication and integrity of the Seahawks.”
“It’s definitely encouraging,” fullback and special teams co-captain Michael Robinson said. “He’s just getting started. That’s the thing. He can will you to a victory. That’s what you want in your leader. That’s what you want in your quarterback. He can only get better, and I look forward to seeing it.”
Starting with seeing what Wilson will be able to do after having a full offseason as the starter.
“I think it’s going be tremendous for him to have a full offseason to be able to study some of the things he did during the season, evaluate his self and see where we’re trying to go,” Robinson said.
“So I think it’s going to be great for him.”