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Beyond the immediate considerations of Hundley's potential, the quarterback's tape raises larger questions about the position.

12 Dec 2013

Film Room: Russell Wilson

by Cian Fahey

It is inevitable that Peyton Manning will be the 2013 NFL MVP. It's almost impossible to come up with a legitimate argument against him. Even before his Denver Broncos face the San Diego Chargers in Week 15, he has 45 touchdown passes and just nine interceptions. That production on a top seed from the AFC and while playing behind a less-than-stellar offensive line means that Manning wins seemingly every possible argument that one could make.

But even though there is no doubt who is the MVP, there is still value in recognizing the players who will at least be mentioned in the discussion that takes place before Manning is crowned.

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees has rebounded after a disappointing 2012 season. With head coach Sean Payton back on the sidelines and a reborn defense supporting him, Brees has thrown for 33 touchdowns, eight interceptions and over 4,000 yards so far this season. With the Carolina Panthers hoping to make the playoffs and the New England Patriots expecting another division crown, both Cam Newton and Tom Brady are being considered by some. It's difficult to argue that either player has outperformed LeSean McCoy, Calvin Johnson, Jamaal Charles or Josh Gordon, but that is the benefit of being a quarterback in today's NFL.

None of those players appear to be as deserving as the Seattle Seahawks' Russell Wilson.

Wilson has thrown for 23 touchdowns and just seven interceptions, with 2,871 passing yards on 330 attempts. Statistically, he doesn't compare to Brees or Manning and playing with Marshawn Lynch and the best defense in the NFL appears to be working against him. However, Wilson's statistics are very misleading. They don't take into account the cracks that he has covered on the Seahawks offense with his ability to elevate the play of his teammates. No, that is not a reference to his celebrated leadership qualities. It's a reference to what he has consistently done on the field from week-to-week.

For long stretches of this season, the Seahawks offense has been missing key players because of injury. Starting wide receiver Percy Harvin, who was acquired in the offseason to diversify the passing attack, has played just one game all year because of a hip injury. Sidney Rice, the team's second starting wide receiver, entered the season with injury issues before he tore his ACL and was placed on IR after Week 8. Losing Harvin and Rice hurt, but not as much as playing without both starting offensive tackles for an extended period. Starting left tackle Russell Okung was placed on short-term IR after tearing a ligament in his toe before Week 3, while starting right tackle Breno Giacomini missed seven games because of a knee injury suffered against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 3.

Lynch has been healthy all year and while he has been a valuable asset who has enjoyed an outstanding season, he alone hasn't offset the impact of losing both starting receivers and starting offensive tackles. Doug Baldwin and Golden Tate have been very good in relief of Rice and Harvin, so the drop-off in receiving options hasn't been detrimental. However, with a lesser quarterback the drop-off in quality on the offensive line could easily have destroyed the Seahawks season regardless of who was in the backfield or playing on defense.

The above chart represents every pass from Wilson through Week 14, though it excludes throwaways, passes tipped at the line of scrimmage and spikes. The chart doesn't reflect incompletions and completions, but rather accurate and inaccurate throws from Wilson regardless of the result of the play.

Clearly the Seahawks offense is based on a short-passing game with a heavy dose of screen plays. Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell intellegently designed his offense this way because it released some of the pressure from the team's leaky offensive line. Wilson has had an almost unnatural precision on passes that land 12 yards or less away from the line of scrimmage, while his accuracy throwing down the field is as good as any other quarterback's. His ability to find receivers all over the field consistently in different situations is a testament to how talented he is physically.

Even though Bevell built his offense on shorter passes, the Seahawks certainly don't run a limited offense through the air. On deeper throws, Wilson showed the ability to both bail out his teammates from their mistakes and to elevate the play of those around him.

Early in the fourth quarter against the Arizona Cardinals, Wilson was lined up under center with a fullback and running back behind him. Although the Seahawks were leading by 15 points, there was still plenty of time left for the Cardinals to catch up. On first-and-10, the Seahawks' heavy formation brought eight Arizona defenders into the box, with Patrick Peterson in press coverage against Tate to the top of the screen.

As he often does, Wilson takes a deep drop in the pocket to survey the field. His pass protection almost immediately begins to crack after play-action, but Wilson quickly locates his receiver down the field after the fake. While his height is always a talking point, Wilson is smart and composed enough to locate Tate down the field between the two incoming pass rushers.

Even though there is pressure coming up the middle from two defenders, something that is a nightmare for most quarterbacks, Wilson doesn't panic. He also doesn't immediately look to scramble or escape into the flat, showing that he doesn't have an over-reliance on his mobility. Instead, Wilson resets his feet by stepping sideways twice while keeping his eyes on his target downfield. This takes him away from the pressure and allows him to remain in a comfortable throwing position throughout the whole play.

Wilson has already covered for the failures of his offensive line at this point in the play. Now he is going to throw Tate open because he understands the coverage Peterson is playing and where the space is. Only a perfect throw will beat Peterson's coverage. So even though Wilson understands the situation and has perfectly managed the play to this point, he still has to have enough ability to make what is a very difficult pass down the left sideline.

Tate is able to catch the ball with his hands as Wilson leads him towards the sideline and puts the nessecary arc on the football to get it over Peterson. That is the type of play that only the very best NFL quarterbacks can make. Yet, it's the type of play that Wilson makes on a regular basis.

Wilson's mobility is well-documented. He regularly makes extravagant escapes from pressure in the open field and he can be used as a running quarterback like Colin Kaepernick or Robert Griffin. However, Wilson primarily only runs behind the line of scrimmage when he has to and more often than not he is doing so to buy time to throw the ball downfield. Any athletic quarterback can escape pressure frantically, but in the NFL you need to have the subtleties that Wilson has. Manipulating the pocket while keeping your eyes downfield is a sign of a poised pocket-passer.

When you face the better pass defenses in the NFL, they force you to make these kinds of plays or accept that your offense will be one-dimensional for the day. Of the 13 games that Wilson has played in this year, eight saw him face defenses that are currently ranked in the top half of pass defense DVOA and five are ranked in the top eight. Couple that with the number of blowout victories the Seahawks have enjoyed and it's easy to see why Wilson's statistical output is so modest.

In one of the biggest games of the season, Week 13 against the New Orleans Saints, Wilson had one of his best displays. The Seahawks won 34-7 in a very convincing fashion and the young quarterback finished with 22 completions on 30 attempts for 310 yards, three touchdowns, zero interceptions along with eight rushes for 47 yards. While one of his touchdown passes was very fortunate, his accuracy throughout the game was very impressive. In the second quarter, he made what could be the biggest play of the game.

There were roughly eight minutes left in the second quarter. The Seahawks were winning 17-7, but their offense was facing a third-and-3 deep in their own territory. Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan understood the gravity of the situation and he responded in a way that is typical of his philosophy. Before the snap, Ryan had eight defenders pressing the line of scrimmage threatening to blitz. His defense came out like this, not looking to mask their intentions, but rather get in the head of the young quarterback.

The Seahawks got to the line early, so Wilson had time to walk around behind the line of scrimmage and set his protections. After he did that, he dropped back into the shotgun and surveyed the field again for a moment before he looked quickly at Baldwin in the slot. After looking at Baldwin, who kept his eyes on his quarterback throughout, Wilson looked back to the center but clearly made a signal with his hand. Baldwin responded to the signal by reaching his own arm out to the receiver outside of him.

While we can't be 100 percent certain, it's likely that Wilson was adjusting the routes to that side of the field.

Wilson catches a slightly low snap, something he regularly has to deal with, and keeps his eyes on Baldwin from the moment his hands touch the ball. He doesn't hold the ball for very long, just a moment to allow Baldwin to get on the shoulder of the safety covering him.

Baldwin runs down the seam and Wilson finds him seemingly without much effort. He throws the ball at least 40 yards in the air and lands it perfectly on the outside shoulder of his receiver. That means the defensive back has no chance of making a play on the ball. Wilson's pre-snap adjustments set up the potential for a big play, while his execution eradicated any potential for an overwhelmingly negative play.

In theory, Rob Ryan was playing the percentages by being so aggressive. In big moments such as these, less experienced quarterbacks aren't supposed to be able to be so poised before the snap and so effective after it. Of course, if theory was to be followed, Wilson wouldn't even be on the field not least one of the best players in the league.

While poise, physical ability and intelligence are all crucially important aspects of playing quarterback on the professional level, so is toughness. Most of the quarterbacks in the NFL could likely play to an elite level in 7-on-7 drills, but it takes a certain level of bravery and toughness for that ability to translate to the field on Sundays. In spite of the rule changes that protect the quarterback more than any other position, those playing under center must still execute on every drop-back with a defensive lineman trying to fall on top of them or a linebacker trying to explode through them at speed.

It's cliche to reference Wilson's height while talking about his toughness. The reality is his height has little to do with how resilient he is. Is he more resilient than any other top quarterback? Who can really tell. Is he brave enough to get the most out of his ability? Yes and that's the only question that is important.

On one of the rare occasions when the Seahawks were in a hole at home, Wilson showed off his toughness in the pocket with a very poised touchdown pass. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were leading by 21-0, with just under two minutes left in the first half. The Buccaneers only rush three defenders, but defensive tackle Gerald McCoy quickly sheds the Seahawks lineman who is trying to block him. The Seahawks are running a fake screen play, so Wilson needs time to fake a pass into the flat before looking for a receiver downfield.

Just as Wilson turns back to find Jermaine Kearse and let the ball go for a touchdown, McCoy arrives. Wilson's quick release allows him to let the ball go with perfect accuracy, but he gets pummeled into the ground by the big defensive tackle. A roughing the passer flag is thrown, but the Seahawks have already kickstarted their comeback with the touchdown.

Poking holes in what Wilson has achieved this season is very difficult. The Seahawks may have a talented roster, but he's not simply supplementing superstars around him. He's not Josh McCown or Nick Foles and he's not Colin Kaepernick or Robert Griffin III. Wilson is clearly on that elite quarterback level. He may not be residing in the upper class level of the elite with Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning just yet, but based on this season he is clearly at least on par with Drew Brees and above Tom Brady.

Even if he's not today, it appears inevitable that Russell Wilson will someday be the best quarterback in the NFL.

Posted by: Cian Fahey on 12 Dec 2013

95 comments, Last at 13 Jan 2014, 6:11am by louis vuitton purses

Comments

1
by MarkMiller (not verified) :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 10:52am

Excellent article.

One nit to pick. Pro Bowl Center out as well (as well as half game last week). 3 starters on line missing 2 of which were pro-bowl.

Mark

5
by Cian Fahey :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 12:09pm

Thanks.

I know the center has missed some time too, but like how Zach Miller has missed time, I thought it better to give preference to the guys who were greater losses.

9
by Anonymous213 (not verified) :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 12:36pm

All Pro center is kind of a big loss, no?

10
by Cian Fahey :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 12:39pm

It didn't show up on the tape and personally I've never been as high on Unger as his reputation suggests I should be.

2
by dmstorm22 :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 11:10am

Assuming you haven't done this already (I may have missed it), could you do a Film Room on what exactly Philip Rivers is doing better this year to the last two. He's #2 in DYAR and #3 in DVOA (with Foles ahead of him). He's saddled with the worst defense in the NFL, an average running game, and an average O-Line. He lost his #1 and #2 WRs from preseason (Floyd in Week 2, Alexander in the preseason), and is having probably the 2nd best season of his career.

To me, he's a darn good MVP-runner-up candidate. He has no shot of getting a vote, and even if the NFL were like the MLB, and guys voted 1-5 instead of just a 1st place vote, I doubt too many would have him on the list.

Is it just a product of the Mike McCoy offense? Is he getting better protection? Is it mechanics? I think it would be a far bigger story if they were going to make the playoffs (and a loss tonight to Denver all but ends any chance of that happening).

6
by Cian Fahey :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 12:11pm

I'll try to fit him in, but can never promise anything because I don't always get to cover what I want to cover.

If I don't do anything on him for FO during the season, I will definitely be looking into him during the offseason either here or most likely on www.presnapreads.com(my own site).

8
by dmstorm22 :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 12:18pm

Thanks. Definitely don't want to seem like I'm demanding this from you.

I enjoy all your articles and film breakdowns. I just think the reserruction of Philip Rivers is a story that has gone slightly under the radar as the season has gone on, but is one worth looking into especially going forward into 2014 as that defense almost has to be better, and he should be getting some weapons back.

As you mentioned, it might work better as an offseason piece, especially since they are pretty much out of the playoff race.

45
by Andy (not verified) :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 6:08pm

If you're a Bolts fan, I'm sure you can agree we go unnoticed ALL the time, regardless of how well anyone (/the team) is doing. Unless they have to talk about the Chargers because they're playing in a nationally televised game one week - they don't.

Keenan Allen's epic rookie season is getting virtually zero non-local coverage, even though by advanced metrics it's looking to be one of the best since said-metrics were kept.

3
by milo :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 11:11am

Good article. Consider dropping the last two paragraphs.

7
by Cian Fahey :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 12:11pm

Thanks. Consider dropping the last sentence.

22
by intel_chris (not verified) :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 2:23pm

I liked the last two paragraphs. It shows where your opinions lie. Some might bridle at a person not thinking Brady currently the best QB in the NFL. However, at least we know where you stand and what you rate well.

24
by Bobman :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 2:43pm

Beyond awesome response

31
by coremill :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 4:16pm

Your comment is unnecessarily snarky and the article in general is overly hyperbolic. Wilson is not yet on a par with Brees or better than Brady. Seattle's offense is run-first and a lot of their passing game is based off play action; their offense doesn't ask nearly as much of the QB as New Orleans' or New England's offenses do. Far fewer of Seattle's passing play require complicated progression reads.

This is obvious when you look at volume. Wilson has attempted only 330 passes this season, or about 25 per game, which is the fewest attempts of any QB who has started all 13 games this year. Manning, Brady, and Brees all have over 500 attempts.

The three plays cited show what Wilson does well -- he's accurate, especially on deep throws, and he can take a hit to make a play. But these plays don't show his faults. If I looked, I could easily find plays where he makes big mistakes. Since your ridiculous tone in the article undermines your credibility, I have no reason to think your cherry-picked plays are any more representative than mine would be.

Wilson is nowhere close to being the 2nd best player in the league right now. He's probably toward the bottom of the Top 10 just among QBs. Manning, Brees, Rodgers, Brady, and Rivers are all pretty obviously better than Wilson right now by nearly any meaningful standard of evaluation (although Brady is having a down year). Nick Foles' rate stats blow everyone else away, although in a small sample size (218 attempts, or about 2/3 of Wilson's and 40% of Manning's).

I'm surprised I need to say this, but it's also obviously not inevitable that Wilson will become the best QB in the league. Wilson has played well but his team also makes him look good by keeping him out of difficult situations. If Seattle's running game (ranked #9 by DVOA with high volume, the most rushing attempts in the league) and defense (ranked #1) decline, Wilson will end up in much less favorable game-states, with more 3rd and longs, and more times trailing. That will diminish the effectiveness of Seattle's play-action passing game and allow defenses to focus on taking away Wilson's strengths, and Wilson's productivity (on a rate basis) will drop, even if his level of play and counting stats improve.

It's way too soon to know who among the Wilson/Kaepernick/Luck/Newton/RG3 group is going to end up being the best player. They all have weaknesses. Before last season, most people thought Luck would be the best. Toward the end of last season, most people would have said RG3. After the playoffs, everyone jumped on the Kaepernick bandwagon. Wilson has looked the best this season, but he's also had the easiest circumstances. Hell, maybe Nick Foles will be better than any of them. It's impossible to know now who will be better in 5 or 10 years, and certainly nothing about it is inevitable. Who knows if Jameis Winston or some guy currently in high school will end up being better?

For a site that prides itself on objective, data-driven, fact-based analysis, this article is remarkably silly. Something like this belongs on Field Gulls, not FO.

33
by Cian Fahey :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 4:46pm

My comment wasn't intended as snark. It was light-hearted.

84
by CBPodge :: Fri, 12/13/2013 - 8:12am

And funny.

35
by Brett (not verified) :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 4:50pm

It's funny. Every single one of your points were addressed by Can in the article. You just decide to dismiss them out of hand. I'll side with the guy who has studied the tape.

37
by Anonomys (not verified) :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 4:54pm

You are right in saying Wilson has not had to bail his team out. However, that doesn't mean he is any less of a good QB. Other than yards he has been better than Brady this season with more yards per attempt, more TDs, less INTs, etc. Are those not meaningful stats in your book? And if you look at total yards he is only 367 behind Brady. Brady has been working with a depleted WR corp but so has Wilson. He has had Tate, Baldwin, Kearse, and Lockette for most the season. Even when Rice was in he was not producing. Not to mention a lack of protection with Unger, Miller, Okung, and Giacomini missing significant time. So yeah Wilson has had a better season than Brady.

44
by theCougAbides (not verified) :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 5:59pm

I don't believe it is right to say Wilson has not bailed his team out. Twice in the playoffs on the road when down by 14 and 20, once this year down 21, and once this year down 17. Each time, Wilson lead comebacks and bailed out his team.

The poise shown by Wilson on the TD pass against Tampa is a great example of a cherry-picked play to highlight your article. But not in a bad way. Wilson is smart. When the Seahawks have the lead, he routinely runs away from pressure, slides or runs out of bounds without taking a hit, and rarely keeps the ball on read-option plays. When the Seahawks are down, he will take a hit in order to make a throw, dive for the first down, and run an actual read-option, not the fake "we-have-a-lead-don't-risk-the-qb" read-option.

38
by Perfundle :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 5:17pm

"Seattle's running game (ranked #9 by DVOA with high volume, the most rushing attempts in the league)"

Wilson himself accounts for a significant portion of that. He has 112 DYAR to Lynch's 126 and Turbin's -19.

52
by churn4016 (not verified) :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 7:06pm

The top run game and defense are certainly there, but it's simplistic and cliched to state that Wilson would tank without them or is undeveloped and unburdened because of it.

* Wilson has spearheaded several comebacks in his short career (failure of defense) and beat both Tom Brady and Drew Brees in games where Marshawn Lynch was getting nothing done.

* Lynch's success was a bit more feast-or-famine for the first eight weeks or so until FB Michael Robinson returned to the lineup, and has been quiet for the last two weeks without hurting Wilson all that much.

* Seattle's offense has done a lot of metamorphosis since last year, when they largely relied on Wilson getting into unpredictable 2nd-and-5 territory on a regular basis. This year his challenges on 2nd down have been much greater, and the short passing game wasn't even there last year anyway; the "go deep, scramble or nothing" offense was much truer of 2012 than 2013.

* Also, Lynch has almost NEVER been run on 3rd and 2+ this year. It's astonishingly rare that OC Darell Bevell has run on 3rd down, and it's caused no small consternation amongst Seahawks fans. But it means those 3rd downs have rested almost entirely on Wilson's shoulders, and the result is an 11-2 record against a lot of excellent defensive lines.

* The article says this already, but Wilson played for two months with three VERY questionable backups at LT, RT, and C, as well as three rotating guards so subpar in pass protection (though solid in run-blocking) that their coaching staff can't make up their mind whom to play. One area Wilson has Peyton Manning beat for sure is suckitude of his O-line for most of the year. Backup LT Paul McQuistan is so famously bad that he's become a punchline to Seattle fans. And even when Max Unger is in the lineup, his snaps are so scattershot that Wilson is regularly dipping and weaving and reaching to catch them. Once again, this has all been against seemingly every underrated AND well-known defensive line in the league. Wilson has survived this perfect storm fairly well.

* In fact, a lot of Wilson's biggest moments have come on broken plays. You'll miss this if you just look at stats, probably assuming that it's all on play-action. The reality is that Wilson's shiftiness in the backfield has kept plays alive long enough to outlast the secondary and get his receivers open. This happens, like the article said, on a regular basis.

* Also, the "Wilson is being held up" argument would be much stronger if Percy Harvin, Sidney Rice, a Bush/Sproles-type backfield weapon, the underrated Zach Miller, or ANY true #1 or interesting TE were on the field. They haven't been, at least not all the time. Rice isn't a true #1 himself, honestly.

Run-first+play-action+defense=pretender QB is a logical fallacy until proven, and there's less and less basis for that as the weeks go by. That's a conclusion possible only by blind stat-quoting and regurgitation of ESPN talking points. Watch the guy play; note his accuracy, his pocket steadiness, his awareness of the LOS and first-down markers, his lack of tipped passes (a hint of his quick release), his footwork, his intelligent manner of scrambling compared to a self-inflicting pinata like RG3. Your response sounds like you didn't even read the article, which pointed out some tremendous individual plays that few other QB's make and took pains to point out that Wilson has had nowhere near the easiest circumstances.

61
by coremill :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 7:49pm

I actually have no dispute with most of this. I didn't suggest that Wilson would "tank" without a good defense and running game. He just wouldn't look as good as he does now.

I think Wilson is a very good, but not great QB at this point in his career, probably towards the bottom of the Top 10 of QBs in the league. The "Run-first+play-action+defense=pretender QB" is not the argument I made; he's better than Alex Smith, for example, who fits that paradigm more closely. I just don't think Wilson has proven he's good enough (at least not yet) to run a Brees/Rodgers/Brady/Manning-esque passing offense that requires him to throw 35-40 passes every game while consistently making difficult coverage reads and completing throws with accuracy to all parts of the field. Manning is averaging 41 attempts per game this season, Brees 40; Wilson averages 25 and hasn't attempted more than 37 passes in ANY game in his career (his high this year is 33). He's just not being asked to do as much as the true top-echelon QBs.

FWIW, the advanced stats agree with me: Wilson is 7th in DVOA (which does not account for his more limited volume), 6th in DYAR (which does, and where his total is about half of Rivers and Brees and approx the same as Rodgers, who has played 4.5 fewer games), 7th in QBR, 6th in rating, 7th in ANY/A, etc.

Now will he improve to that level in the future? Maybe, perhaps even likely given his professionalism and work ethic, but it's hardly inevitable as the article claimed.

My point wasn't to rag on Wilson (a player I've enjoyed watching since his Wisconsin days), just that it's ridiculous to say a) he's the 2nd best player in the league, and b) it's "inevitable" that one day he'll be the best QB in the league. The article demonstrates no objective basis for either of those claims, and I don't think there is any.

77
by churn4016 (not verified) :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 11:00pm

I guess it's down to what defines a great QB, then. For my part, I wasn't aware that a QB had to "run a Brees/Rodgers/Brady/Manning-esque (hereafter referred to as BRBM) passing offense that requires him to throw 35-40 passes every game while consistently making difficult coverage reads and completing throws with accuracy to all parts of the field" in order to be a great QB. That's a narrow definition and one that most QBs would probably scoff at, given how vastly different those four elite QB's systems are in their details. Categorizing things as "pass-first" and "run-first" is something only we fans do. System is a valid component of a QB's greatness, and you're still implying that Wilson is undeveloped simply because of his offensive system. He's doing all the difficult things you want, just not as often.

Also, Wilson is doing a lot of other things that BRBM could never do, so marginalizing him for not fitting the pass-first mold is an apples/oranges thing. His mobility gives the offense an extra dimension, especially on short drives, where Wilson is statistically awesome and has been since college. His baseball background makes him terrific throwing on the run. Seattle's offense doesn't rely on YAC at all except on WR screens to Tate. And he's doing all this while being 5'10" and not throwing between the hashes at all, actually making things easier for defenses. This all shines an even bigger light on what he does.

So IMO, there is a case for greatness here. It's just a completely different kind of greatness. Getting hung up over the "2nd best" thing is rather pointless, even if the article did state it.

78
by coremill :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 11:41pm

"He's doing all the difficult things you want, just not as often" is precisely the point (even granting the premise, of which I'm not entirely convinced). Volume matters. Wilson's per-play rates are right up there but he's throwing only about 60% as often as the top guys. Volume matters because a) those plays have to go somewhere, probably to less productive uses (like runs), and b) rates don't scale linearly. You can't just assume that Wilson would be able to maintain his rate stats if he were throwing 40 passes/game instead of 25; most players' production rates decline as their usage increases. He'd likely be throwing against in less optimal situations against different defensive looks. Being able to maintain those rates at high volume is what separates BRBM from everyone else.

And FWIW, not only did the article state Wilson was the 2nd best player in the league, the whole point of the article was to prove that laughable assertion.

Why is everyone here so desperate to put Wilson in Canton already? There's nothing wrong with being a very good but not great QB in your second year in the league. He's probably somewhere around the 6th-10th or so best QB in the league right now; there's no shame in that.

90
by canfan (not verified) :: Fri, 12/13/2013 - 5:31pm

"volume matters" No, wins matter.

55
by willybhu :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 7:25pm

His career NY/A is 8th all time, behind Bert Jones, Randall Cunningham, Rodgers, Chris Chandler, Steve Young, and Roger Staubach. Russell Wilson's career ANY/A ranks 20th all-time, ahead of Dan Fouts, Roger Saubach, Jim Kelly, and Joe Theismann. The only active quarterbacks ahead of him are Peyton, Drew Brees, Rodgers, Brady, Philip Rivers, and RG3 (based solely on his ridiculous rookie season). Granted, a 1 and 3/4 year isn't enough to launch him into GOAT discussions, but he absolutely deserves to be considered among the elite quarterbacks playing today.

Source: Pro-Football Reference - http://goo.gl/T2LlVP

59
by Scott Crowder (not verified) :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 7:34pm

Coremill, It's blatantly obvious that you HAVEN'T looked at Wilson's play. Your statements make it crystal clear you don't know what you're talking about. The team has done anything BUT keep him out of difficult situations. You are obviously unaware that until just recently Wilson was the most pressured QB in the NFL.

What's that saying about ignorance and opening ones mouth?

71
by Anonymous465 (not verified) :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 9:45pm

Wilson's stats are actually pretty high among the best QB's in the league right now.

56.3% completion rate on passes over 20 yards, while no other QB is above 50%.
3rd in overall yards on deep passes(over 20 yard passes behind Manning and Brees, but his YPA is better than either of them.
Fifth best passer rating in his second season of any QB.
Only the fourth player in history to have two 20-TD seasons in his first two years.
One touchdown shy of 50 for his career. He would be the fourth player in history to do that in their first 2 years in the NFL.
106.5 passer rating on the season. Wilson and Otto Graham are the only two players in NFL history to have two seasons of 100+ passer rating in each of their first two years. (As long as Wilson keeps it up.)

I'm not sure of the "easiest circumstances" jab or the "Manning, Brees, Rodgers, Brady, and Rivers are all pretty obviously better than Wilson right now by nearly any meaningful standard of evaluation" line. Because that's not exactly obvious when comparing:
Passer rating: 5th in NFL
Yards per pass attempt: 3rd
Passing TD %: 3rd
Game winning drives: 2nd
Comebacks: 2nd
Fumbles recovered: 1st

89
by Zombie (not verified) :: Fri, 12/13/2013 - 4:16pm

Wow, that is a minimally thought out response to the piece, which actually addressed your first item about stats early on. Quarterbacks that have to throw the ball as often as Brees, Manning and Brady get tremendous stats as a by-product of surviving in games where they had to score a ton of points. No kidding, Wilson has less attempts, but he still has more than enough to be part of the conversation. You group Colin Kaepernick in with the 2012 group? It isn't too early to say that Wilson is going to be better than Kaepernick, Wilson has already played at a much higher level and had sustained it. Unlike Kaepernick, Wilson has not had news stories written in regard to his poor level of play. Kaepernick isn't even in the same ball park as Wilson and never will be.

46
by Dan Slotman :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 6:11pm

Great response.

4
by Will Allen :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 11:26am

I will repeat myself from a thread last week, and note that it is absolutely insane that being an inch shorter than Drew Brees made Wilson available in the third round. Anybody who saw him at Wisconsin, and didn't see attributes that easily made him worthy of selection in the first half of the 1st round, isn't watching the same game as I do.

Pete Carroll and the Seahawks were phenomenally lucky. Well, to be more fair, they weren't as stupid as teams like the Vikings. They signed Flynn for a good chunk of cash, but weren't so idiotic as to think they had the keys to the kingdom. In contrast, Ponder the behavior of Vikings' management. Egads. I'm gonna hate watching Russell Wilson play for the next decade-plus, as I love watching him play, if that makes any sense.

18
by BigWoody (not verified) :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 1:50pm

There is a crazy theory floating around Seahawk blogs that Flynn served as (and, really over-the-top, may have been signed as) a decoy allowing Seattle to draft Wilson in the 3rd round just ahead of several teams that had him targeted later in the 3rd or early 4th (cough, Vikings, cough) but would have taken him earlier in the 3rd/2nd had they feared Seattle's selection.

20
by Will Allen :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 2:15pm

Yeah, I don't buy that stuff. None of the experts had enough sense to trust their eyes, because if they did, they would have taken him earlier than the third, and nobody could have known that they would all make the same error. If the Seahawks had any confidence that Wilson would be as good as he is, then they would not have waited until the third to draft him.

23
by BigWoody (not verified) :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 2:36pm

Agreed. In 20:20 hindsight most teams should have thrown multiple 1st round picks at, uhm...no wait, Minny, Cleveland and Jacksonville had the 3rd, 4th and 5th picks that draft.

27
by ptp (not verified) :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 3:09pm

Schneider wanted to take him in the 2nd, and probably would've taken him in the 1st if he had any reason to think he wouldn't be there. It was basically Carroll that made him wait til the 3rd. Carroll is big, big, big on measurements, despite the fact that the two most important players on his team are a bit undersized (Wilson and Thomas).

57
by tunesmith :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 7:28pm

They had two second-round picks. If they wanted him that bad, I would think the marginal cost of using a 2nd-rounder on Wilson would be less than the cost of signing Flynn (which included a $10 million guarantee).

69
by BigWoody (not verified) :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 9:06pm

Yup, as I said, the theorys are crazy. But fun to hash over.

79
by The Ancient Mariner (not verified) :: Fri, 12/13/2013 - 12:14am

No, just one second-rounder, which they used on Bobby Wagner. (Whom we're very glad to have.)

21
by Kal :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 2:19pm

Yeah; watching him there was no indication at all that he was a poor choice or even a mediocre one. During the combine and interviews he was regularly wowing everyone with his intelligence and professionalism; he had that part down pat (as he has shown regularly in the Seattle media).

The thing that really stands out that I wish more people noted was how good he was at two different colleges. It's far more telling to me that Wilson was able to go to a totally different system, pick up all the lingo, study hard and become a captain and the starter of Wisconsin all before the season started. He learned their entire playbook in 3 weeks. When I heard that, I was all in on him; I figured he'd be a great pro if someone gave him the chance. And when he was drafted I stated he'd be the Seahawks starter by the end of the year. I wasn't so optimistic that he'd be the starter day one.

He does have his flaws; some of his passes do sail on him, he doesn't always read great coverage and he occasionally pushes too hard. That being said he is head and shoulders above Luck or RG3 or Tannehill and his mistakes largely come from dealing with horrible interior line play. Fix that and he'll be a juggernaut in this league.

29
by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 3:24pm

I agree that Seattle look a bit lucky that Wilson turned out as well as he has but I think that to some extent they made their own luck.

They overpaid the Chargers for Charlie Whitehurst and then made a big mistake with the Flynn signing, which implies that they are not such great evaluators of qbs and if they knew what Wilson was they would not have waited until the third round.

However, I think they do deserve credit for repeatedly making efforts to fix their quarterback position. They didn't marry themselves to the guys they'd previously brought in and were decisive when they finally found a good solution.

80
by The Ancient Mariner (not verified) :: Fri, 12/13/2013 - 12:16am

That's just the PC/JS team-building philosophy. It's a song by the SeaBirds: "Churn, Churn, Churn (To Every Roster Spot There Is a Season)."

11
by Jeff88 (not verified) :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 12:54pm

Is it possible that Peyton has won just one too many MVPs? I could argue that Rivers and or Brees deserved an MVP in one of his "typical Manning years". Manning is surely the MVP based on his stats, but like I've mentioned he has trumped other players who had career years when he won his. This year Wilson is the correct MVP candidate, and if Rivers had won 2-3 more games he would be right up there as well with the way he has played.

13
by Will Allen :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 1:10pm

I don't know how the logic works to conclude that if the wrong choice was made in a previous year, it becomes correct to make the wrong choice in this year. I love watching Wilson. Manning has played significantly better.

15
by dmstorm22 :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 1:29pm

The only career year he trumped that was possibly better than his was Rivers in 2009 (unless you want to argue that was Brees' career year).

My, admittedly biased, argument for Peyton in 2009 is he did more with less. He had the league's worst running game, a terrible o-line (they started Charlie Johnson at LT for 16 games, started Mike Pollak for more than zero games), and lost his #2 and #3 receivers from the year before and had them replaced by a 4th round rookie and 6th round 2nd year player, and led that team to 14-0 in games they tried to win.

Now, I think Rivers should have won that year because he was better than Manning, with a similarily bad running game, but it's close. I don't get the argument for Brees over Manning in 2008, but I agree that Manning's MVP in 2009 was fortunate.

Of course, I think Manning should have been MVP in 2005 (although Steve Smith has a great case, about as good as it could ever be for a WR), and in 2012.

That said, assuming things don't go very wrong in the last three games, if he doesn't win MVP this year, it is a joke.

That offense is just plain better than anyone else's and it starts and ends with Manning, who's having a ridiculous season. Rivers and Brees are close, but they aren't as good on paper or in advanced stats.

26
by Bobman :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 2:48pm

If Steve Smith at WR in 2005, then Marvin Harrison at WR in 2002. 41% of team's TDs, 41% of passing yardage, broke the receptions record by 15% (when Shaun Alexander won for breaking the RB TD record by a single score). All while being double- and triple-covered. He outpaced the team's next most productive WR (future HoFer Reggie Wayne in his soph year) by 96 catches and 1,006 yards.

If not Peyton in 2005, then Walter Jones.

Ah well, what's done is done.

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by tuluse :: Fri, 12/27/2013 - 7:58pm

I think 2nd year Peyton was better than Delhomme ever was, and Edge was pretty damn good in 2002 as well. The 2005 Panthers offense was basically Steve Smith. The Seahawks ended up triple covering him in the NFCC.

Edit: I also think an MVP award is silly in the NFL. The most valuable player is the most valuable quarterback. Since the early 80s if not earlier. So I treat it as the "most outstanding player" award. I fully understand if someone disagrees with this definition.

25
by Bobman :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 2:45pm

Jeff88, what about the word "most" don't you understand?

72
by Jeff88 (not verified) :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 10:21pm

If most, you mean most touchdowns passes, yards, attempts, and completions then yes Manning is the most productive player. He has the most talented offensive roster one could argue in his whole career right now. If you throw out the Baltimore game, all of a sudden the MVP picture doesn't look so cut and dry.

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by coremill :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 10:43pm

Yes it does. Not only does Manning have high totals, he also has far away the best rate stats. He's #1 in DVOA for QBs by a considerable margin, and has the highest ANY/A and rating of anyone who started the whole season (Foles is ahaed of him in both, but has only 7 starts). This is all while throwing the most passes in the league. He has a big edge in DYAR. Does he have weapons? Sure. But he's easily been the best player in the league this season and it's not really that close.

And no way is this roster his most talented. The 03/04 teams with Harrison, Wayne, Stokley, Edge James, Marcus Pollard, and Dallas Clark was a better set of skill players; even if you think the receivers are a wash (and I don't), Denver doesn't have a RB remotely as good James was (in 2004 James had 1500+ yds at 4.6 Y/A and also caught 51 passes).

12
by Crushinator :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 1:09pm

On Rivers, my brother did a film study on him last year watching through game tape and his take away was "Rivers is accurate, he's smart, he reads a defense quickly and is awesome at the mental and mechanical portion of his game, but the offense relies super heavily on deep posts that he just can't make and asks him to throw to them a lot. Also Defenses are not even a little surprised by the offensive playcalling".

As this was last year when he noted this and the offense changed, my guess on Rivers would be that his coaching staff put him into more of a precision passing offense and less of a big play offense which plays to his strengths of Being A Great QB With A Not Great Arm. Just my thoughts on this but I imagine that's what'll turn out - How badly Norv really just mismanaged him.

14
by dcrockett17 (not verified) :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 1:22pm

Those are bold statements, and that's coming from a Seahawks fan. Still, I think they're supportable. When you look at "how" he plays the position, what's so impressive is how quickly he works on his flaws. Last year, he WAS prone to bail out of the pocket against A/B gap pressure. Now, not so much. That is extremely difficult to change. His touch in the intermediate game has notably improved. The stuff you highlight here are largely not things he came to the league doing well. He's worked on that stuff.

One disagreement on a non-material point. Seattle's offense is NOT based on short passes and screens. That may be a more or less accurate description of Bevell's career, but it's not true in Seattle. It's a play action, big strike offense. In truth, I wish we threw MORE screens. That's one reason I bet Schneider and Carroll targeted Harvin.

28
by Perfundle :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 3:15pm

Well, his targets graph is there in black and white (well, green and red, because it's the holidays). Watching the games, I would say Seattle would ideally like almost every pass to be down-field, but opponents have picked up on that and try as hard as they can to eliminate the deep stuff, but sometimes Seattle's receivers get open anyway because of their route running and/or Wilson's scrambles.

Looking at that graph, there's a gaping, V-shaped void in the middle of the field. That's not typical for QBs, is it? I know he had at least three deep middle passes in the Patriots game alone last year.

30
by Kal :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 3:55pm

He had a healthy Sidney Rice last year. Golden Tate doesn't run post routes that well.

39
by Perfundle :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 5:24pm

What about a post route makes it more difficult to run than a corner route, which is what Tate runs in the first play?

Or is it that Tate simply doesn't run any routes particularly well, and corner routes don't get double-covered as much?

Maybe Tate needs to incorporate spin moves in his routes, because he certainly is top notch at those.

47
by Kal :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 6:38pm

It's really that he doesn't run much all that well. Rice was significantly faster when healthy and could get separation. Tate doesn't nearly as well. Most of Wilson's longer passes this year are to Baldwin (seriously) or YAC stuff. Most last year were to Rice.

If you're wondering whether that means that Wilson, who has been playing lights out this year, would be even scarier with a deep threat, the answer is yes. He'd be scary as hell. And we know from college and last year that he can throw a deep ball about as well as anyone.

50
by Perfundle :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 6:57pm

Yeah, Seattle's pass offense is built on deep shots as well as YAC; the only other team who does that well is Philadelphia (also Green Bay under Rodgers), who happens to be the only team with a higher yards per completion average.

51
by gozzerd (not verified) :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 7:01pm

Pete Carroll teaches control of the "redline" for both offense and defense. It is midway between the numbers and the sideline, and is actually marked on their practice field. The idea is that the sideline protects one side of the receiver, giving undefensed space to catch a ball, and safety on overthrows. So the absence of deep middle throws is probably play design. I bet Russel likes throwing deep posts.

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by Scott Crowder (not verified) :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 7:47pm

It's due to coaching philosophy. The WR's are trained to fight for the redline. They actually paint a red line on the practice field. All those tippy toe catches on the sidelines aren't happening by accident. The WR's fight for the redline and control the field from there to the sideline. Wilson throws to the sideline where the defender can't get it and the WR can. It's one of the reasons Seahawk WR's don't get a lot of YAC. Tate would be great at post patterns where his open field ability would shine, but that's not the offense Carroll wants to run.

So next time you wonder why it seemed like Wilson was doing so fantastic but the stat line says he barely broke 200 yds passing, that's why. In other offenses that allowed or even worked for YAC, he'd have thrown for more yards. In their redline philosophy to the pass game, he moves the chains, but his stats don't look so fantastic.

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by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 7:54pm

It's based on a West Coast offense, look at Cian's pass distribution chart with so many short passes. In no way is it working against YAC with the exception of the deep sideline stuff.

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by Perfundle :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 8:47pm

Yeah, Seattle is definitely no slouch at YAC. They're 4th in the league with 6.42 YAC per pass, but also 4th in the league with 7.18 air yards per pass, so they challenge you deep and short.

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by Scott Crowder (not verified) :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 8:49pm

http://www.fieldgulls.com/football-breakdowns/2013/8/23/4648046/seahawks...

Seattle wideouts end the play with the catch - Sidney Rice, in particular, has very little YAC; he is usually tumbling to the turf making an amazing toe drag and using his catch radius while diving for a pass. If you close your eyes and think about the big catches in 2012, think about how many of them ended with the receiver falling to the ground, into the end zone, or near the sideline.

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by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 9:44pm

Seriously, can you not try to convince me with field gulls posts, it's just SBNation noise to me. Use your words.

73
by Perfundle :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 10:37pm

Sidney Rice =/= every Seahawk WR. Rice's technique in catching passes is one of the worst ever for generating YAC. If it was him targeted on that blitz-beater against the Saints he'd catch it with his body and crumple to the ground instead of running for another 15 yards.

But yes, in general, those sideline passes generally don't generate a lot of YAC. It's those swing passes, screens and slants that do that, and Seattle throws a lot more of those. Below are Seattle's receiving stats; you can see that everyone but Kearse and Rice have a very healthy YAC, led by Tate.

http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/teams/sea/stats/

34
by gomer (not verified) :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 4:47pm

Well that and every now and then someone attempts the game plan that NO tried in loading the box to insure that Lynch didn't beat them. But I haven't seen that game plan against the Hawks all season and have feeling that NO may have succumbed to institutional memory in their fear of Lynch.

16
by Chris112233 (not verified) :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 1:29pm

On the Baldwin deep route, you call it a 3rd and long, but the screencap shows 3rd and 3.

Great article though.

17
by Chris112233 (not verified) :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 1:30pm

Nevermind I misread it.

19
by RolandDeschain :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 1:51pm

As a Seahawks fan, this article gives me wood.

32
by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 4:44pm

That first chart is interesting (BTW, where did you get it, if you made that yourself then that looks like a ton of work). There isn't a single pass attempted between the hashmarks more than 15 yards downfield, that is startling. The target frequency is much higher to the outside on short passes as well.

The most obvious reason would be to do with his height, I know it's a tired trope but his pass distribution is clearly skewed to the outside where he is more likely to be able to see his targets. However, I think it's also likely that the deep passing distribution will be at least partly due to teams playing a single high safety behind an eight man front, the exploitable area in the coverage is deep outside the numbers.

It also reflects on his coaching staff, if you have a shorter qb then wouldn't you design more routes to the outside, often off a roll? That's the textbook approach with such a passer. You have to wonder if teams will start to slant their defenses to the outside, though defensive coordinators generally Gutta's the middle of the field as it represents the fastest path to the end zone. The Bears used an interesting defense against Vick's Eagles a few years ago where they lined their safeties up five yards deeper than normal; leaving a void in the middle of the field, gambling that Vick would not be able to find open receivers there. Though Wilson has shown more commitment than Vick ever did and at the moment most teams are still struggling to stop Lynch.

I don't agree with the final sentence, I think it's too strong a statement. Firstly, we don't know how close to his ceiling he already is. He is already very polished, as the article points out, is being well coached and I disagree that he has poor receivers. While he hasn't had Harvin or Rice, hev has had Baldwin and the very impressive Tate to work with. However, the statement also make assumptions about the development of other quarterbacks, some of whom aren't even in the NFL yet. RGIII could come back with a full offseason and a more sympathetic coach, Kaepernick could refine his play after coming into the league as the most raw of the Gang of Four with the same being true about Tannehill and I think Luck deserves some benefit of the doubt.

I'd still put my money on Luck right now. And with Foles and Tannehill playing well, should it be The Gang of Six?

36
by Cian Fahey :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 4:51pm

I did make the chart myself yes. I don't believe I said that his receivers were poor, just that they weren't on the level of a Harvin-Rice combination.

41
by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 5:45pm

For me, Rice is a solid starter when healthy but that's not something we have seen very often and as he gets older I have doubts over whether we will ever see him regularly putting healthy seasons together. Harvin is an unknown to some extent, he was a devil on underneath passes and screens in his final year with the Vikings but is he the downfield receiver that will elevate their deep game? I have no idea.

So I think that the two most reliable and complete receivers available are the two he's had all year, Baldwin and Tate, who are very underrated in my opinion.

Have you any comment on Wilson's Forbidden Zone in the deep middle?

43
by Cian Fahey :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 5:57pm

I was wondering about it, but I didn't really have anything concrete without looking at other QBs to compare so I didn't want to put it in the article. I believe the height plays a role, but it also could simply be the design of the offense. Having that ability to find receivers down the sideline means that he doesn't really need to look over the middle of the field. I believe it's safer to attack the sidelines when pushing the ball downfield(stay away from safeties, linebackers who may be coming from blindspots, even though the throws are often more difficult.

58
by Perfundle :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 7:33pm

Interestingly, Seattle's defensive philosophy is to force receivers towards the same sidelines that their own receivers are running routes into. Of course, the routes are not the same. Seattle tries to force go routes by the outside receivers towards the sidelines, and Sherman in particular is exceptional at forcing receivers to run almost out of bounds while at the same time preventing back-shoulder or comeback passes. Seattle's receivers, while they certainly run go routes as well, often end up near the sidelines from corner routes and out routes, the latter often improvised after seeing Wilson scrambling.

On that last point, it's not like Seattle doesn't run routes between the hashmarks; Kearse is running one in that first play after all. But that route seems designed to become an out/corner/comeback route if Wilson chooses to roll/scramble to his right, and I believe a lot of those outside completions started out as routes up the middle.

56
by Pass the pease (not verified) :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 7:27pm

The Seahawks' passing offense emphasizes "red line" plays - i.e. the 5 yards closest to the sideline on either side of the field. I'm not sure if it has been designed that way to minimize restrictions presented by Wilson's height, create safer passes by putting more of them on the sideline where inaccuracy is usually less damaging, take advantage of current defensive trends, a combination of all of those items, or other factor(s). It is deliberate though, and you'll hear the receivers mention it on occasion during postgame interviews. (Field Gulls has featured at least a couple of articles about it this season.)

The other factor probably diminishing the number of attempts in the middle of the field is because of the O-line injuries - and not especially stellar pass blocking even when healthy - the TEs are frequently forced to help in protection and don't run as many routes as they'd like to.

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by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 7:49pm

Seattle fans here seem to be going on about this 'red line' stuff. They are not the first team to emphasise leverage in coverage and route running.

The red line is a teaching aid, a good one, but it isn't reinventing three wheel. I think Cian hit the nail on the head when he suggested that it's use on offense is probably about attacking downfield away from the safety. The red line is simply their way of emphasizing leaving the room for the qb to throw into on the outside. Other teams might describe it as route discipline, maybe it is illuminating that they bar so much of their offense around that particular set of routes.

Defensively, every corner is taught to squeeze the receive into the sideline. I can remember John Madden explaining how Dion Figures was doing a great job at it for the Steelers in the mid 90s. What makes it so effective for the Seahawks is partly their size (and holding quite a bit :)) but also having the best center fielder in football. The Ravens were doing the same thing back when Ed Reed was at his height in their defenses. The corners can widen everything to because offenses are terrified of throwing over the middle onto Thomas' horns. Would you base your gameplan around throwing over the middle against Seattle?

65
by Perfundle :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 8:44pm

"Seattle fans here seem to be going on about this 'red line' stuff. They are not the first team to emphasise leverage in coverage and route running."

As someone who reads and enjoys the articles on Field Gulls, I have a feeling that too many Seahawk fans think the schemes detailed in those articles are somehow unique to Seattle, or at least executed better by Seattle than other teams. Those plays are only a portion of what Seattle actually runs, but they're the most memorable/splashy, and so people think that Seattle is all about deep passes down the sideline. The graph in this article is quite illuminating in pushing back against that narrative.

68
by Scott Crowder (not verified) :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 8:58pm

Actually, it says right in those articles things like this:

http://www.fieldgulls.com/football-breakdowns/2013/8/23/4648046/seahawks...

this is not a new concept for coaches, or Pete Carroll at USC. However, there is a greater emphasis on it this year (2013) for Pete.

So no, this is nothing new and Seahawks fans are more knowledgable than you give them credit for. However, we also know that it is something Pete emphasizes more than most. So...since the discussion was on why the pass distribution has that great big V in it, I suppose some of us Hawk fans felt it would be educational for the other readers to understand something Pete places a large emphasis upon. I attribute the teams YAC to Tate's amazing ability to make something out of nothing and the fact that many deep strikes tack on so many yards afterwards that, given we don't throw a lot, skews the average. My statistics class was three months many decades ago, so forgive me if I remember my terms incorrectly, but I believe our Mean YAC might be significantly lower. I'd be interested in seeing if that were true.

40
by Perfundle :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 5:43pm

"It also reflects on his coaching staff, if you have a shorter qb then wouldn't you design more routes to the outside, often off a roll?"

Not just for shorter QBs; I've seen fans of the 49ers, Panthers, Colts and Redskins all demanding more rollouts for their mobile QB to lessen the hits they're taking from their poor pass protection. Now it's well-known that the downside of this is that it cuts the field in half, but the last two Seahawks games have shown that this is not always the case. Wilson's second touchdown against the Saints was a throw to the left after a rollout to the right, and Kaepernick made a similar throw last game. Defenses have seemingly taken that downside too much to heart and are abandoning coverage away from the rollout, and a good QB can easily take advantage of that.

42
by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 5:53pm

I wasn't criticising the use of the rollouts or trying to suggest that it's exclusively for shorter passers. More that as you move a shorter qb out from behind the line it makes it easier for him to see more of the field. Another tactic I've seen the Eagles use with Vick under Andy Reid and at times in Seattle is a deep drop out of the shotgun. More of the field is revealed as the qb gets further from the line.

That Kap pass to Davis I'd a slightly different thing. It was a play that was in vogue around the league a few years ago, a designed roll with a late throwback to a receiver who's snuck away from the coverage. It's not really a vision throw, that was to Davis all day. I think Davis actually scored a TD on his first ever NFL catch on that exact play some years ago against the Cardinals.

64
by Scott Crowder (not verified) :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 7:58pm

It's not just rollouts. If that were so, then the V in that graph wouldn't be so....graphic. Wilson doesn't roll out as much as you might think. He's a great pocket passer and has a lot of poise in there. But the WR's are trained to control the redline and the passes are designed to hit them where the defender can't get it. This is to limit turnovers, not give Wilson a better field of vision. He makes those passes from in the pocket just as accurately as out of them. Carroll believes in Toxic Differential: Having not only a high turnover ratio, but a high Big Play ratio. On offense, that means plays with a low turnover potential. A redline passing game limits turnover potential the most. Passes over the middle get picked off more often. On the sidelines, a tipped ball often goes out of bounds and passes can be made that no defender can possibly get to.

It has nothing to do with Wilson's height or his ability to see over the middle.

49
by Duderino (not verified) :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 6:44pm

The Seahawks have focused on "red line"* throws this year. When opposing teams do their research and see that your team really likes to throw the ball deep but are still trying to stack the box against the run, you end up seeing a lot of coverage like this: http://cdn1.sbnation.com/assets/3395679/PA3.png Not a whole lot of chances for deep passes in the middle in that situation.

*Explained here: http://www.fieldgulls.com/football-breakdowns/2013/8/23/4648046/seahawks...

53
by Perfundle :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 7:09pm

Somewhat poor play design for all the routes (well, that receiver second-to-the-bottom looks like he could be going deeper) to be run to the same depth, and a depth that the defense would be expecting (just past the first down marker). Impressive that Wilson still picked up a first down on that play with a scramble to his left, because there's a lot of DBs in that area to make the tackle.

85
by CBPodge :: Fri, 12/13/2013 - 8:19am

"There isn't a single pass attempted between the hashmarks more than 15 yards downfield, that is startling."

To me, this says that the Seahawks' tight ends must be dreadful. I get the stuff in posts above about the redline, but you'd think they'd have tried one seam route this season...

86
by Karl Cuba :: Fri, 12/13/2013 - 11:10am

But Luke Wilson looks pretty good and Miller isn't bad either.

87
by Perfundle :: Fri, 12/13/2013 - 1:06pm

They do run seam routes. It's just that either Wilson throws it to them less than 15 yards down the middle, or the routes just veer towards the sidelines for some reason. That near-touchdown to Miller against the Saints was definitely a seam route, just a little distance away from the actual seam.

Also, for a large portion of the season, they did throw very few seam routes because they had to keep the TEs back to help the depleted OL.

48
by Bay Area Bengal (not verified) :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 6:43pm

I consistently love these articles. I watch Russell Wilson in games and I think he's spectacular. Then I look at his numbers and I go, "Huh." Thanks for helping explain the disconnect!

I know you've mentioned that you don't always get to cover what you want to cover, but I'm wondering if Andy Dalton is on your film room list?

He drives me crazy in games, as it's easy to tell that his decision-making is extremely inconsistent. Yet he maintains efficiency on the level of guys like Joe Flacco and Jay Cutler ... not exactly great players, mind you, but guys who seem to be held in higher regard around the league. With the Bengals surging towards the playoffs for the third straight year (and gunning for a possible #2 seed), I'd love more insight into how an offense loaded with draft talent manages to under-perform so consistently. Is it all on Dalton? Is it the plays that Jay Gruden calls?

54
by Cian Fahey :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 7:10pm

Very lengthy piece on Dalton from before the season here: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1717482-breaking-down-the-development...

My opinion of him hasn't really altered since then. Even when he threw 5 TDs against NYJ, he didn't look much different from the QB that played MIA soon after. The Bengals have one of the very best supporting casts for a QB. Dalton is very limited, but they can compensate for that at times with the other players on the roster. Gruden has worked wonders with him in my opinion.

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by Bay Area Bengal (not verified) :: Fri, 12/13/2013 - 2:38pm

This is amazing, thank you! Now that I know you write for b/r, I'll keep an eye out for more great stuff from you.

75
by Flargan (not verified) :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 10:51pm

FACT: Of the very games that he has lost, Russel Wilson hasn't lost a game by more than 7 points in the NFL.

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by Flargan (not verified) :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 10:51pm

very few*

81
by Kal :: Fri, 12/13/2013 - 1:05am

That's a lot more telling about his defense, not his specific talent.

82
by Not_Wayne_Rooney (not verified) :: Fri, 12/13/2013 - 4:00am

Although, Russell Wilson often doesn't throw a lot of passes he certainly is capable. Many of his games where he could have thrown up 400 to 500 yards haven't happened, because the defense is good enough, that after 3 or 4 TD's the game is way out of hand, so he's either benched or they stop throwing.

Look at the comebacks he's had to engineer. He had 2 drives over 80 yards back to back in the 4th qtr and overtime to beat the Bears last year. in the playoffs he was clutch and dominated the Redskins after going down 14 points. RG3 was injured in that game, but the defense was not. He dominated for 3 quarters. The next game against the Falcons he had 4 consecutive 2nd half TD drives of over 80 yards. They lost, but that wasn't on him. They were down 20+ points this year against the Buccaneers and he staged the Seahawks largest comeback from a deficit in their history.

He's had to overcome the terrible pass protection this year and kept his composure, but his clutch comebacks are what's most impressive to me. He just doesn't crack.

I'd like to see what he could do with the Broncos receivers. I'm not saying he's as good as Peyton Manning yet, but in his 2nd year he's way ahead of normal pace and if he did throw 35 to 40 times a game, he'd be lighting it up and a fantasy players dream.

83
by Not_Wayne_Rooney (not verified) :: Fri, 12/13/2013 - 4:01am

Although, Russell Wilson often doesn't throw a lot of passes he certainly is capable. Many of his games where he could have thrown up 400 to 500 yards haven't happened, because the defense is good enough, that after 3 or 4 TD's the game is way out of hand, so he's either benched or they stop throwing.

Look at the comebacks he's had to engineer. He had 2 drives over 80 yards back to back in the 4th qtr and overtime to beat the Bears last year. in the playoffs he was clutch and dominated the Redskins after going down 14 points. RG3 was injured in that game, but the defense was not. He dominated for 3 quarters. The next game against the Falcons he had 4 consecutive 2nd half TD drives of over 80 yards. They lost, but that wasn't on him. They were down 20+ points this year against the Buccaneers and he staged the Seahawks largest comeback from a deficit in their history.

He's had to overcome the terrible pass protection this year and kept his composure, but his clutch comebacks are what's most impressive to me. He just doesn't crack.

I'd like to see what he could do with the Broncos receivers. I'm not saying he's as good as Peyton Manning yet, but in his 2nd year he's way ahead of normal pace and if he did throw 35 to 40 times a game, he'd be lighting it up and a fantasy players dream.

91
by Markus (not verified) :: Fri, 12/13/2013 - 9:57pm

What's astonishing to me is how Wilson has achieved this high level of proficiency and efficiency, while being the MOST pressured qb in the league. Doubtless, if Wilson had the kind of time this year behind the O line that Manning enjoys, he would be able to finish a crossword puzzle back there and his stats would be off the charts. And, discussion of him as MVP material would take on much more weight. All that said, the stat that matters most is wins. After he beats Manning in the SB, all this talk will be moot, compared to scoreboard.

94
by tuluse :: Fri, 12/27/2013 - 8:02pm

I think he creates a lot of the pressure himself. If he made decisions as fast as Peyton does, he would face less pressure. This is not a knock on Wilson, as Peyton is one of the 3 or so fastest decision makers ever to play QB.

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by PtownRob (not verified) :: Fri, 12/27/2013 - 4:32pm

Wilson is ELITE! He's played an insanely tough schedule against some of the most elite pass rush in the NFL with hobbled O-line that can't seem to run or pass block this year. What he's done by himself is unbelievable and he's had to stand and make unbelievable throws while getting blown up by these guys. Kid is tough and gets up to do it again and again. The O-line is last in pass blocking and average at run blocking.

Wilson's Murderers Row
1. Robert Quinn/Chris Long 2x
2. J.J. Watt
3. Aldon Smith 2x
4. Robert Mathis
5. Gerald Mccoy
6. Panthers DL
7. Jordan Cameron
8. Arizona DL 2x
9. Jared Allen

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by louis vuitton purses (not verified) :: Mon, 01/13/2014 - 6:11am

I will at some point place my time and tough earned