Most of the time when Russell Wilson speaks to the media, platitudes and bromides pour from him like water from a dam’s spillway. It’s not a problem; hey, he’s a rookie who has been around too short a time to know much anyway. He’s been well-trained by his late father in the cliche that no games will be won with words, but a few can be lost.
As starting quarterback, the job obligates him to regularly wash over the unwashed media, of which we are often. But every once in a while his oral armor-plating parts a little, and candor is revealed.
Asked after Wednesday’s practice how he would grade himself at mid-season, Wilson disdained any false humility.
“I think I played well,” he said in his usual undemonstrative way. “Obviously, I wish I had a couple more wins on my belt. We lost a couple of games there at the end.
“But the great thing about it is, for me as a rookie playing the quarterback position, all of the games lost have come down to the end. I don’t think it can get any better in terms of this organization and for me personally to be able to understand those situations that much better and still play at a high level.”
No argument here. The 4-4 Seahawks aren’t that far from 8-0, and they aren’t that far from 1-7. They are in the great, bloated middle of the NFL, but are doing it with a imperturbable rookie at QB who seems to get steadily better despite so often being the crucible of the last moments.
The kid knows he’s good; why not say so? He’s always given proper credit to his coaches and teammates, deflecting praise and accepting criticism. He may be little, young and temporarily unsteady, but no backhoe is going to dig this kid out by his roots.
For whatever stock you might put in the NFL’s QB rating system, Wilson is at 82.4, tied for 19th with Philip Rivers of San Diego. The stat is led by Peyton Manning of Denver, at 109.0, just ahead of Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers (107.9). Wilson is just behind Baltimore’s Joe Flacco (84.0) and Tennessee’s Matt Hasselbeck (83.3), and ahead of such worthies as St. Louis’s Sam Bradford, Detroit’s Matthew Stafford, Chicago’s Jay Cutler and Dallas’s Tony Romo.
Obviously, the Seahawks don’t trust him yet with the full playbook, nor should they. Passing-game risks are minimized because, with Marshawn Lynch, they can get away with it. Wilson did his best job Sunday when he led the Seahawks to 24 points on the road, a total that will win a majority of NFL games. The biggest vulnerability in the passing game is no longer Wilson’s inexperience; it’s is the lack of capable veteran receivers (although WR Doug Baldwin’s ankle will allow him to play Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings).
A standard worry by this time in any rookie’s calendar is the proverbial wall. Wilson has taken every snap of the regular season and many in the four exhibition games, which adds up to a full season in college.
He offers a small smile when the wall is suggested as a threat.
“I think people forget that I played college football and professional baseball all in one year, so this isn’t anything to me,” he said. “I can go all day.”
That’s the sort of answer that makes coach Pete Carroll all giggly that Wilson is his QB. Guy never stops.
“It’s one of those things where mentally you have to be focused, you have to get in the routine,” he said. “I’m on a routine in terms of getting here early in the morning, waking my body up, getting in the hot and cold tubs, stretching a lot, and that really gets me alive and awake.
“I think more than anything when you love the game, you never get tired of it. So I just put my focus there.”
As the Beatles suggested, all you need is love. And a defense that can grow up as fast as Wilson.