Small Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson playing big
BY MARK POTASH email@example.com November 29, 2012 7:48PM
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) looks to pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Nov. 25, 2012 in Miami . AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
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Updated: January 1, 2013 6:39AM
Russell Wilson is generously listed at 5-11 by the Seattle Seahawks, but that doesn’t seem to matter anymore.
His most memorable play as an NFL quarterback is considered one of the biggest flukes in league history. But that doesn’t seem to matter anymore, either.
The rookie from Wisconsin via North Carolina State is proving his many doubters wrong by not only starting in the NFL, but by thriving. Wilson is 12th among NFL quarterbacks of any size, shape, age or experience level with a 93.9 passer rating. Even if the 24-yard touchdown pass to Golden Tate that beat the Green Bay Packers in Week 3 is an interception, he’d still be 12th in the league with a 90.6 rating.
‘‘He’s got our attention,’’ Bears defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said.
That’s great, but it might not be enough. There’s no telling if Wilson is the next Doug Flutie or Fran Tarkenton. He has yet to play an NFL team for a second time in the same season. But in the capable hands of coach Pete Carroll, Wilson is as dangerous as Colin Kaepernick is in the hands of Jim Harbaugh. In his last four games, Wilson has completed 73 percent of his passes (74-for-101) for 821 yards, nine touchdowns and one interception for a 122.6 passer rating.
Wilson is Carroll’s latest X-factor, creating an element of the unknown against the Bears no matter who’s starting at guard or returning kicks. Carroll has beaten Lovie Smith twice in three tries since returning to the NFL. And while Smith convincingly won the one that counted in the playoffs after the 2010 season, the way the Seahawks beat the Bears in the regular season can’t be discounted.
In 2010, the Seahawks sacked Jay Cutler six times with an array of blitzes that had the Bears wondering where the next guy was coming from. Five of the sacks were by defensive backs in a 23-20 Seattle victory.
And last season, the Seahawks were playing on a short week on the road but beat the Bears in all three phases — returning two interceptions for touchdowns in a 38-14 victory. Cutler did not play in that game. But in their three previous games with Caleb Hanie, the Bears lost by five, seven and three points. Carroll beat them by 24 at home.
Carroll is 21-26 in three seasons with the Seahawks. But in his first two, the Seahawks beat three teams with 11 or more victories, plus the 9-7 Giants last year, who won the Super Bowl. The Seahawks came into East Rutherford, N.J., ranked last in the NFL in total offense — they had lost eight consecutive games in the Eastern time zone. But they gained 424 yards behind the tag team of Tarvaris Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst to beat the Giants 36-25.
So even if you prepare for everything against Wilson and the Sea-hawks, you still have to be ready for anything. The Seahawks are still discovering their possibilities with a quarterback learning on the fly. A few weeks ago, they started running read-option plays with Wilson.
‘‘You just don’t see it a lot,’’ Marinelli said. ‘‘It’s not something you do daily. You’ve got to spend time on it. And they may run it once [in the game], and you’re spending more practice time on the thing.’’
Even special teams are on notice — and not just because the Sea-hawks have one of the NFL’s best kick returners in Leon Washington, who returned a kickoff 98 yards for a TD against the Dolphins last week.
‘‘They’re really smart,’’ special-teams coordinator Dave Toub said. ‘‘In situations like fourth-and-short, they try to draw you offside. You have to be on your toes [for] fakes at any time. They’re not afraid to call it. A lot of teams have fakes, but they don’t call it. We’re going to have to be sharp.’’
So no matter what you’ve seen of the Seahawks on film, expect the unexpected.
‘‘They do a great job like that,’’ Marinelli said. ‘‘We’ve just got to make sure we play our base stuff really well, that our tackling is sharp. It’s really hard to move the ball consistently against a good-tackling defense.
‘‘That’s our challenge with that back [Marshawn Lynch] and the quarterback. Our tackling has to be on point. Play by the rules of our defense. We just have to do what we do. And play fast.’’