The key endorsement came at the conclusion of Sunday’s Bears game, after Russell Wilson had led the Seahawks to an overtime victory on an 80-yard game-winning drive.
“Are you an @DangeRussWilson believer yet?” tweeted Rainn Wilson. “I just became one.”
Rainn (a Shorecrest grad, if you didn’t know) isn’t alone. Seahawks fans, myself included have fallen hard for Wilson. Writes Kenneth Arthur of the Hawks blog Field Gulls: “Wilson is young, he’s ridiculously inexpensive, he’s good, and he’s winning. The only thing more I could ask from him is to be my date to the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance.”
Let’s break down the many reasons for the powerful municipal mancrush:
Wilson’s an underdog.
Wilson is 5’-11”, which has long been considered too small for a quarterback. Not just for an NFL quarterback — the colleges that recruited Wilson wanted him to switch positions. Wilson was a four-year starter in college. The Seahawks already had a highly-paid and 6′-2″ presumed starter in Matt Flynn…but Wilson beat him out in preseason.
Wilson studies hard
A game film addict, Wilson reported to Seahawks HQ every day during the offseason to study opposing teams. Before every game he texts his receivers a scouting report on the opposing team’s defensive backs and linebackers.
Wilson has a sense of purpose
“I know that I’m playing for a lot of kids down the road, kids in the future that are my height,” he told the Miami Herald last week.
Wilson is advanced for his age
There is actually more to being a good quarterback than being tall — or even than having a strong arm. Wilson has a handle on the nuances of the position ridiculously early. Watch what he does with his hips on this TD throw against the Vikings. The whole play, his hips and feet point left, then he fires the ball into the right corner of the end zone for a touchdown. This is Advanced Quarterbacking, people. (This Field Gulls article has the full breakdown of the play.)
Wilson can beat you with his legs
Against a gassed Chicago defense on Sunday, Wilson led the Seahawks down the field with zone-read plays, which give the quarterback the option to run. After several successful runs, the Seahawks went zone read for the winning throw, with the threat of Wilson’s legs helping his receivers get open. Bears star linebacker Brian Urlacher pulled his hamstring chasing Wilson during the end of the game and now may be out for the season.
Wilson proves that math rulez
The stats and analysis gurus at Football Outsiders were stunned when their projection system for college players, the “Lewin Career Forecast,” gave Wilson the highest rating ever — higher than first overall pick Andrew Luck. The writers of the site started calling Wilson “The Asterisk.” Turns out their numbers — just like Nate Silver’s — may have turned out to be right. Check out how Wilson compares to Luck against seven common opponents this season.
Wilson doesn’t throw over the middle
This goes under the category of “just about everything.” Wilson has thrown over the middle on just seven percent of his pass attempts this season — less than any of the top 20 quarterbacks in the NFL. Does Wilson’s stature prevent him from seeing receivers in the middle of the field? Or does it have more to do with the Seahawks using their tight ends as blockers more often than as receivers? Either way, Wilson’s use of the middle of the field is so far below QBs in the rest of the league, it may be a weakness defenses can exploit. Let’s hope not!
The Seahawks “control their own destiny,” meaning that if they win their next four games, they’ll make the playoffs. Wilson would be only the third quarterback since the NFL/AFL merger to start all 16 games as a rookie and lead his team to the postseason. And think beyond the next four games. Have the Seahawks found Seattle’s sports star for the next decade?