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How Russell Wilson spent his summer vocation

Posted Sep 3, 2014

What’s next? When it came to Russell Wilson, you had to wonder how the Seahawks’ quarterback would follow what he’s done in his first two seasons. If the preseason was any indication, Wilson is primed and ready to deliver even more.


Four preseason games. Fifty-two minutes of play time. Thirteen possessions. Nine incomplete passes.

That’s how Russell Wilson spent his summer vocation, being ridiculously proficient and also productive – as the Seahawks scored on 11 of those possessions directed by their third-year quarterback, with Wilson passing for three touchdowns and running for three more.

If this sounds familiar it’s because we dissected Wilson’s preseason performance last week, before the finale against the Raiders in Oakland on Thursday night. And all Wilson did on his only series of that game – the first series of the game – was complete passes of 44, 8 and 25 yards in directing a four-play, 80-yard touchdown drive that ended with that 25-yard scoring pass to tight end Luke Willson.

So we figured revisiting just how well Wilson played in the preseason – and why – was worth repeating on the eve of the Seahawks’ nationally televised regular-season opener against the Green Bay Packers at CenturyLink Field on Thursday night.

Just to recap, Wilson’s summer of we-love-what-he’s-doing included him fashioning a NFL-best 133.8 passer rating by completing 33 of 42 passes for 437 yards, without an interception. On seven of the scoring drives, Wilson did not throw an incompletion, and his TD passes went to three different players – wide receiver Jermaine Kearse, running back Christine Michael and Willson.

We asked it before (to coach Pete Carroll and QB coach Carl Smith), so we asked it again: Was there anything you needed to see from Wilson this summer that he didn’t show you?

“No, absolutely nothing,” said Warren Moon, a Hall of Fame quarterback who is the radio analyst for Seahawks games. “I think he’s upgraded his play in every aspect – even his pocket awareness, which I didn’t think could get much better than what it was. It seems like he feels the rush and knows exactly when to move even better than before. And he’s staying in the pocket more now and throwing from the pocket.

“That’s what’s improved the most to me – the pocket passing and the timing routes that he throws now. He’s throwing the timing post route and the timing curls and the timing outs. He’s doing a much better job of those things – seeing it, getting the ball out of his hand and letting it go.”

You could make the argument that no one who ever played in the NFL has thrown a more picture-perfect pass than Moon, who threw for 49,325 yards in 17 NFL seasons after passing for 21,228 yards while playing six seasons in the CFL.

Just as you could make the case that Wilson is throwing the ball better than at any time since the Seahawks selected him in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft.

“I think that’s because of his footwork and his awareness,” Moon said. “Whenever you’re confident of where you’re going to have to go with the football, it’s going to come out of your hand better. Most quarterbacks at the NFL level can really throw the football. But when it’s not coming out right or coming out kind of soft or maybe wobbly, that’s because they’re not really sure of what they’re doing and their feet aren’t proper.”

Asked that same is-there-anything-you-needed-to-see-that-he-hasn’t-shown question in regards to Wilson, Tarvaris Jackson, the Seahawks’ starting quarterback in 2011 and Wilson’s backup the past two seasons, offered: “Nah. Russell came back hungry still. He’s been preparing hard. He’s the same guy – he’s just trying to be the best he can be every day and just taking it from there. I think that mindset is pretty much embedded in him now. I think he pretty much has his routine down and he knows what he’s trying to get accomplished every day. He’s got everything pretty much mapped out.

“He’s comfortable throwing, because he’s done it before. He’s not rushing it, because he has a plan.”

Is there one thing in Wilson 3.0 that has stood out to Jackson?

“I can see the growth,” he said. “I won’t put out one thing. But I can see the growth as far as him being a leader and a little more vocal.”

Right on cue, Carroll announced Wednesday that Wilson has been voted the offensive captain by his teammates for the second consecutive season – after All-Pro center Max Unger and Jackson were the captains the previous two seasons.

And Wilson also is showing he knows how to play the share-the-credit game as well as the game of football. That was as obvious as “the separation is in the preparation” when Wilson was asked about his ability to make quicker reads during his proficient and productive summer.

“Just working on my footwork, working with my quarterback coach – coach Smith – and just working on seeing it and reading it and hitting it as quickly as possible,” Wilson said. “We’re doing a great job of that right now.

“The addition of Percy Harvin, when we really didn’t have him last year. And then you think about Doug Baldwin and how he’s playing. And Jermaine Kearse. And you think about all the other receivers that we have. And then you think about the tight ends. Luke Willson is really playing really well right now. Zach Miller always does. Then you think about our running backs. You can’t get a better tandem in terms of running backs with Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin. So it’s exciting.”

In those last 86 words, Wilson managed to share the credit for what he’s been able to do with seven other players.

“My teammates have always improved and always worked the same way,” he said. “So I’ve got to give a lot of credit to them more than anything else.”

And that, in 30 words or less, is Russell Wilson just being Russell Wilson.


Russell Wilson’s preseason roll

As impressive as Russell Wilson’s preseason stats were – and he led the NFL with a 133.8 passer rating – his performance looks even better when broken down by possession:

Denver

Drive Result
4 plays, 5 yards Punt
       Russell’s resume: 0-2 passing, sacked once
 
14 plays, 90 yards TD: Christine Michael run
       Russell’s resume: 4-4 for 37 yards, 7-yard run
 

San Diego

Drive Result
8 plays, 74 yards TD: Robert Turbin run
       Russell’s resume: 2-2 for 19 yards
 
8 plays, 78 yards Field goal
       Russell’s resume: 2-2 for 13 yards, 12-yard run
 
8 plays, 62 yards TD: Wilson run
       Russell’s resume: 3-3 for 51 yards, TD run
 
10 plays, 67 yards TD: Wilson run
       Russell’s resume: 4-5 for 38 yards, 2 runs for 16 yards
 

Chicago

Drive Result
7 plays, 61 yards TD: Marshawn Lynch run
       Russell’s resume: 3-3 for 51 yards, TD run
 
14 plays, 89 yards TD: Wilson run
       Russell’s resume: 3-3 for 51 yards, TD run
 
11 plays, 83 yards TD: Wilson pass to Jermaine Kearse
       Russell’s resume: 3-3 for 51 yards, TD run
 
3 plays, 16 yards TD: Wilson pass to Christine Michael
       Russell’s resume: 3-3 for 51 yards, TD run
 
3 plays, 16 yards FG: Field goals
       Russell’s resume: 3-3 for 51 yards, TD run
 
5 plays, 21 yards Missed field goal
       Russell’s resume: 3-3 for 51 yards, TD run
 

Oakland

Drive Result
4 plays, 80 yards TD: Wilson pass to Luke Willson
       Russell’s resume: 3-3 for 77 yards and the 25-yard TD