For the past couple of years, every time Russell Wilson would reach new heights, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll would remind people that Seattle's quarterback was still growing.
Quarterback is such a complex position, Carroll noted, that it can take years to truly master. So even as Wilson piled up victories, impressive numbers and Pro Bowl honors, Carroll knew his quarterback was still a work in progress.
Asked about Wilson's development back in 2017, Carroll said, "I can't even imagine the awareness that Russell will have when he's in his ninth year, eighth year, 10th year in there. Tom Brady has three times as much (experience), so there's a lot to grow, and we'll keep challenging him and keep working him and he'll keep doing it. He'll keep competing to get better; it's a really exciting thought to how much he can improve."
Well, now Wilson is in his eighth year, right in that window Carroll mentioned two years ago, and just as his coach predicted, he's playing better than he ever has.
"I think he's off to his best start ever," Carroll said. "I don't know what it looks like numbers wise, but I think it is. I don't think he's ever been more accurate than he's been, and more consistent, and in command of everything. I think he's off to a great start. I don't care how big the numbers are, I'm not talking about how many yards or whatever, just his play has been really, really sharp."
Indeed the numbers do back up Carroll's assessment of his quarterback. Through four games, Wilson is off to the best start of his career in just about every statistical category. Wilson's completion percentage, a league-leading mark of 72.9 percent, is the best of his career, as is in 118.7 passer rating, which currently ranks second in the league. This is the first season of his career in which Wilson has posted passer ratings over 100 in his first four games, as well as his first four-game start without an interception, and his eight touchdowns are tied with his 2014 season for his best four-game start in that category. Wilson's 8.6 yards-per-attempt average would also be a new career best if he were to keep up this pace.
And it's not just the statistics that show Wilson's continued growth; teammates see him improving yearly in other ways as well.
"I'm not big in looking at stats and all that, all I want to do is win the game, but he has done a tremendous job leading us in the right direction and staying true to he is, which forces us to be true to who we are," said center Justin Britt, who is in his sixth season playing with Wilson. "Just the way he comes to work and the way he goes about his business, I think his leadership is the biggest thing that just keeps growing year after year."
Said left tackle Duane Brown, who joined the Seahawks in a 2017 trade, "He has been great since before I've gotten here. His preparation is second to none just throughout the week, and it shows up on Sunday. He's the coolest person out there, never gets rattled, he makes big plays. You look at that third down we had last week, making a throw while getting hit, key conversion for us, that's just who he is. He's just the model of consistency and he's playing at a high level."
Wilson wasn't ready to make any bold proclamations about his play after four games, but did say, "I think I'm playing good. I think there's some more things out there that you can always try and do. I wish I could've found a way to win the game, the game we lost against the Saints. I wish I had that one back somehow. There are things that you want to do to figure out how to execute and just find a way to win."
But While Wilson will always focus on the wins and losses first, he did admit, "I feel locked in for sure. If you're asking me how I feel, I'm definitely locked in and ready to roll. As you go throughout your career, you learn how to prepare that much more. I've been studying like crazy throughout the years. All those experiences, all those games you've played, all those games you've been in, all the tough match ups, all the tight moments, all the come from behind moments as well, it prepares you. It prepares you throughout your career. As you have longevity in everything else, being able to play out in the field, it allows you to continue to get better. My whole goal my whole career has been from day one, treat every day like it's day one. Treat every day like it's my first day. Treat every day as if it's the first time I've ever done it. The first time I've ever seen the play. First time I've ever seen the film. Use the experiences, because those are real. Use those experiences to help you continue to grow."
The Seahawks and the Rams will meet at Lumen Field for the Wild Card round of the 2020 playoffs on Saturday, January 9 at 1:40 p.m. PT. Take a look back at photos from past games between the two teams.