There has been a lot of talk about Russell Wilson leading up to the 2015 season, from his contract to his relationship with pop star Ciara to his recent cover story in Rolling Stone magazine. Just about everything Wilson-related topic has been discussed ad nauseam aside from one thing: football.
Yes, in addition to spending time with President Barack Obama, dating a multi-platinum recording artist, hosting awards shows, posing for magazine shoots and cashing a very large check, Wilson has still found ample time to prepare for his fourth season as the starting quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks.
If ever there were a test of Wilson's ability to focus and compartmentalize, this year has provided it, and it's a test the quarterback is passing with flying colors, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said.
"It's not too big for him," Carroll said. "He takes it in stride. He never loses sight of what's most important to him. He seems to demonstrate a great ability to always be ready for everything that is going on here. He won't miss anything that's here, he's always going to be there for us. I just think it comes from confidence. It comes from a sense that he can handle the situations; they're not too big for him. Certainly playing football isn't."
As well as Wilson has handled everything thrown at him so far, Carroll is still aware of the pressures and the demands on his quarterback, and he does make a point of keeping a line of communication open to talk all things football related and otherwise.
"We do talk a lot, about what's going on and what's coming," Carroll said. "Just staying in connection with all that he's going through. It's a lot. He has tremendous responsibility and he handles it beautifully. We try to just stay on topic. I don't want him to be too far away from all of the things that we communicate on that keeps us close to football. He doesn't let that happen, but I'm on always on guard for that."
In Wilson's view, this exposure isn't a good or a bad thing, it's just "a blessing" that comes with having his dream job.
"I'm never worried about that," he said. "I just take one day at a time, try to be organized, try to be really zoned in. You've got to have your priorities straight. You make the main thing the main thing. First of all, it's my faith, and then my family, and then football. And all the rest comes with it, which is great, that's not a bad thing. I don't look at it as a bad thing. I've always been better busy, I like more on my plate, it keeps you zoned in, keeps you focused, keeps you organized. I don't look at it as a bad thing at all."
Wilson's biggest test, so far, of his ability to keep his priorities straight will come in Saturday's preseason game at San Diego, in which the starters are expected to play into the second half. So far the Seahawks' offense has produced just one touchdown in two preseason games, and that came from the backups late in their loss to Denver. With an offensive line in transition, some struggles were to be expected, but Wilson and company expect to pick things up a bit this week in what will be their biggest tune-up ahead of their season opener in St. Louis.
"Tempo," Wilson said when asked what he wants to get out of this game. "Tempo, execution, be great in the red zone, third down - just, like a regular game. Bring the fire, playing on the road it's going to be a lot of fun against a great team."
"I think we've wanted to score a little bit more, but we've had one or two drives the first game and then the second game, I thought we moved the ball really well. I missed that one throw to Doug (Baldwin), that I wish I had back, but that's what you practice for. In terms of practice, I was just saying some of the people today, some of the players and coaches, this week of practice has honestly felt like it's playoffs practice. Just by our attention to detail, the maturity that our team has really developed and shown across the board. On and off the field, from the way we prepare, to the way we train in the weight room, the way we're together in the locker room, we're on the right track. So I think the key is to stay the course and keep elevating the game, keep elevating practice. When we get in the game, bring the fire, bring the energy and play great Seahawks football."
A lot has changed about Wilson since last year, from his bank account balance to his love life, but when it comes to his day job, he is as dialed in as he has ever been.
"He's had a great camp," Carroll said. "Like he should be, he's the furthest down the road in understanding what we're doing. His conceptual understanding of what we're doing is at an all-time high. And there's still room to grow, but he's just really on it. The communication is great, the timing is really starting to pick up and look very consistent with our guys, with our receivers. He's just making really good progress, he's had a great camp."