John Schneider, stand up and take a bow.
And while we’re at it, you too, Scott Fitterer, the Seahawks’ director of college scouting; and area scouts Jason Barnes, Eric Stokes and Matt Berry and Aaron Hineline, who scour the regions that produced the first three players the Seahawks selected in April’s NFL Draft.
The Seahawks entered the offseason with specific needs, and needed specific players with the unique qualities that coach Pete Carroll covets and GM Schneider has been so good at finding. And look what their first three selections delivered, and what those players have delivered in the team’s 6-4 start – the Seahawks’ best since 2007:
A year ago, these three were just about done. Not done as in stick a fork in them, but done as in almost finished with their final college seasons.
“I think the biggest thing is to relax the mind and relaxing the body more than anything,” Wilson said after Sunday’s game when asked about his plans for the bye week. “It’s been a long season so far.”
But they’re just getting started. Because the Seahawks will emerge from their bye week to play back-to-back games in Miami and Chicago, before hosting each of the other three teams in the NFC West during their final four games. So the play of Irvin, Wagner and especially Wilson down the stretch will help determine whether the Seahawks play into the postseason.
As well as they’ve already played, there are signs to indicate that each can give even more.
With Irvin, it starts with getting him on the field more. His seven sacks have come on limited snaps, because he usually plays opposite Clemons only on passing downs.
“He’s exactly where we thought he would be,” Carroll said. “It wasn’t a major projection for us. We saw (in college) what we needed to see. He’s a factor right away, which is what we had hoped for. … He’s so fast … it’s just a really good aspect of what he brings.”
With Wagner, he only seems to be getting better – not to mention more productive – with each game. Limited to the base defense at the start of the season, Wagner has been added to the nickel and other sub packages and now rarely leaves the field. As a result, 53 of his 81 tackles – and all three of his double-digit efforts – have come in the past five games.
“Bobby Wagner, I’m really impressed with,” said linebackers coach Ken Norton, a Pro Bowl linebacker during his career with the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers. “Really athletic. Really strong mentally. Really smart. Really cares about what he does.
“Am I surprised? No, we drafted him pretty high. When you draft somebody that high – in the second round – we expect him to be an impact player, and he has been that. And there’s such a tremendous upside to him.”
There is similar statistical evidence to indicate that Wilson also is progressing as the season does. Because he has shown he can do more, the coaches are allowing him to do more. In the past three games, he has completed 68 percent of his passes (53 of 78) for 597 yards, with seven touchdowns and one interception, for a 115.2 passer rating.
“He’s clearly done a better job of making more use of the opportunity to throw the football,” Carroll said. “He’s such a unique kid. He’s just done everything you could ever ask.”
It was Tarvaris Jackson, the QB that Wilson replaced, who first uttered what has become so apparent.
“Russell, he’s not like a regular rookie,” Jackson said, before being traded to the Buffalo Bills in September.
Jackson could have been talking about Wagner and Irvin, as well.