By just about any measure, Russell Wilson had a great 2018 season.
On his way to earning his sixth Pro-Bowl selection, Wilson established a career-high in touchdown passes with 35 while matching a career-low with seven interceptions. That ratio, combined with a 65.6-percent completion percentage—the second best of his career—and an 8.1 yards-per-attempt average—third best—gave Wilson a career-high 110.9 passer rating.
And of course, the Seahawks posted a winning record for the seventh time in as many seasons with Wilson under center and made the playoffs for the sixth time in his career.
But for as good as Wilson was last year, he and his coaches think his best football is still in front of him. And that's not just the typical beginning-of-the-season optimism; Wilson's play in training camp was truly impressive, even compared the high standard he has set since winning the starting job as a rookie in 2012.
"Russ is the best he's ever been," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "There is no question. He's the smartest, the farthest along, the most aware, the most in control. He had a great year last year in controlling the offense and he's just another step towards more of that. That just makes us more efficient. That just keeps us out of bad plays. It should put us in good plays. He has a lot of freedom to do stuff within the system. He has a fantastic offseason of conditioning and throwing and all of that. It's shown all the way through camp, through all of the offseason work. He's ready to play his best football. I've always said, one of these years, Russ is going to complete 70 percent of his passes. I don't know when it's going to happen, but this is his next shot. We'll see what happens. How much better can he get? Let's just go one year at a time here. See if we can get him ready to play this time."
Completing 70 percent of his passes would put Wilson in rare company—it's only been done 11 times in NFL history, and Drew Brees is responsible for five of those 11 seasons—and it could be even tougher considering Seattle's propensity to throw deep passes that are inherently more difficult to complete, but Wilson, who completed 68.1 percent of his passes in 2015, sees it as an attainable goal.
"I think it's definitely something we can do," Wilson said. "I think sometimes, it's really about the efficiency more than anything else. I think obviously, completions are about efficiency. I think also, too, touchdowns. At the end of the day, what I really care about is what it takes to win. I think completions help, obviously, moving the ball down the field. I think we want to be in the 70 plus completion percentage if we can every game. For me, ultimately, it's about finding ways to get the ball in the endzone too. I think that's definitely a focus as my career keeps going and going and going. I think that you want to see guys like Drew, I think he was 75 last year or something, something like that. You realize you can do it. You have to have great players, which we do. You've got to throw the ball on time and on the money. I'm looking forward to that."
One of the biggest reasons why Wilson and the Seahawks offense are expecting big things is the fact that he and the rest of the offense have a whole year under their belts with offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. At this time a year ago, the Seahawks were heading into the season with a new coordinator and new offensive line coach, and there were some early-season hiccups as the Seahawks started 0-2. This year, Wilson and the offense plan to hit the ground running.
"The communication is really good," Carroll said. "The familiarity is excellent. Probably, more than anything, Brian knows Russ better. He knows what he can do and how he does stuff and how he thinks and operates and functions and all of that. He's been able to, all throughout the offseason, adjust things to fit strengths that we have. They're really in the midst of a really strong relationship and it's really figuring to be a real positive for us."
Talking about the offense as a whole, Schottenheimer said the Seahawks are "lightyears ahead of where we were last year." And like Carroll, he sees big things in store for Wilson.
"He's playing really well," Schottenheimer said. "The confidence is there, again, year two in the system helps. He doesn't have to think with some of the new concepts or some of the new checks and things that we do. It just kind of happens for him naturally. We get so much work during training camp with those guys. He gets a ton of the work. He's just in a really good spot—very comfortable, playing really well."
Photos from Thursday's Seahawks practice at Virginia Mason Athletic Center in preparation for Sunday's regular season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals.