Russell Wilson proving the third time really was the charm

Posted Jun 24, 2013

The Seahawks have had three starting quarterbacks in Pete Carroll’s first three seasons as the coach. But the decision to draft Russell Wilson in the third round last year brought a needed end to that trend.

Of all the changes coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider have made since arriving in January of 2010, no position has undergone a more complete makeover than the most pivotal position on the team.

In that first season, Matt Hasselbeck remained the starting quarterback, but Charlie Whitehurst was acquired in a trade with the San Diego Chargers to be the backup. In 2011, Hasselbeck was out and Tarvaris Jackson was in as the starter after the former Minnesota Vikings’ QB was signed in free agency after the 136-day lockout – with Whitehurst still the backup.

Last year, Matt Flynn was signed in free agency to compete with Jackson, only to have rookie Russell Wilson win the starting job after being selected in the third round of the NFL Draft. That led to Jackson being traded to the Buffalo Bills last August, and Flynn being shipped to the Oakland Raiders in April. Then, Brady Quinn was signed in free agency to be the backup, only to have Jackson return after being released by the Bills to compete with Quinn.


Quarterbacks on the 90-man roster: 3

Quarterbacks carried on the 53-man roster last season: 2

Incumbent starter: Russell Wilson

Free agents signed: Brady Quinn, Tarvaris Jackson

Keep an eye on: Wilson, of course. As good as he was as a rookie, the real question is: Just how good can he become?

Confused? You shouldn’t be, because the one constant in this QB carrousel has become Wilson.

As good as he was as a rookie, Wilson is expected to be – and expecting to be – even better this season after spending an offseason as the undisputed starter.

“He’s on it,” Carroll said during the minicamp this month that concluded the team’s offseason program. “He’s working really hard to command every aspect of what the quarterback position calls for – at the line of scrimmage, coming out of the huddle, pre-snap alerts, line of scrimmage calls and protections and run calls. The whole thing.

“We’ve given him everything and he’s working to refine it and get it nailed. I couldn’t ask for more in terms of his preparation and what he’s putting together out there.”

As Wilson is fond of saying, “The separation is in the preparation,” and his prep work already has reached legendary status around Virginia Mason Athletic Center.

And there must be something to it, just look at what the Kid QB accomplished after becoming the surprise – if not surprised – starter last season. He led the team to the third-best record (11-5) in club history during the regular season and the franchise’s first road playoff victory since 1983. Individually, Wilson tied Peyton Manning’s 15-year-old NFL rookie record with 26 touchdown passes and then added three more in two playoff games. He also ran for more yards (489) than any QB in franchise history during the regular season and had another 127 rushing yards in the wild-card win over the Redskins and the two-point loss to the Atlanta Falcons in the divisional playoff game. He finished third in voting for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year behind the Redskins’ Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts, the quarterbacks who were the first two picks overall in last year’s draft.

The best aspect of Wilson’s game? He only seemed to get better as the season progressed – with the proof being provided by his four-TD pass game against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 16; the fourth-quarter and overtime drives of 97 and 80 yards that he led in a Week 13 win over the Bears in Chicago; his 92-yard, three-TD rushing effort against the Buffalo Bills in Week 15; and his season-best 136.3 passer rating in the regular-season finale against the St. Louis Rams.

In the playoffs, Wilson rallied the Seahawks from a 14-0 deficit to beat the Redskins, 24-14, and then directed three fourth-quarter TD drives – running for one score and passing for another – against the Falcons to give the Seahawks a 28-27 lead with 31 seconds to play.

Wilson accomplished all that after sharing reps with Jackson and Flynn through training camp and the preseason. Now, it’s his show – from start to finish.

With his increased role come heightened expectations – for Wilson, the offense and the entire team.

Asked how he is handling that, Wilson offered, “I make my own expectations. So I don’t really worry about what the media says or what other people say, to be honest with you. My only expectation is to work as hard as I can, to be consistent – for our football team to be consistent; and for our football team to play as hard as we can every Sunday, every practice. And then we’ll see what happens.

“You have to believe that success will come through hard work and I think that’s the way we’re thinking right now. That’s the way we have to believe and that’s the way we’ll play.”