He’s a Super Bowl winning quarterback, and that is something that will never be taken away from him. But how good of a quarterback is he really? Opinions throughout the football world are varied. Some say he’s only an above-average quarterback. Others say his Super Bowl win catapults him into the elite realm. If you follow this website, you know where we fall on the matter. We watch the film to form our opinions, and we’re not so sure that owning a giant ring makes a quarterback more able to read coverage and throw a far-hash-deep-comeback route.
This isn’t to say that we don’t value playoff success. It is definitely part of the equation. But how many quarterbacks would have been able to win a Super Bowl with that Seahawks defense and running game? And Wilson did throw the least amount of passes of any quarterback who started 16 games last season. So it isn’t wrong to ask again, just how good is Russell Wilson?
Don’t misunderstand us. Russell Wilson is good. He’s very good, Super Bowl ring or not. He may be short, but he has a big arm. He’s very accurate on the run. This is so important for Wilson because he does scramble often. However, his scrambling is the type that defenses hate most. He doesn’t scramble just to run. He moves and still maintains his downfield vision. He buys time with his legs, and this is so dangerous because if forces defenders to have to cover for longer periods of time, increasing the chances of a receiver breaking open. This creates big plays downfield in the passing game. When Wilson doesn’t throw the ball, he also has the ability to run for big chunks of yards. More importantly, he doesn’t take as many big hits as some of the other running quarterbacks. He’s smart and controlled with his scrambles.
Still, Wilson has his issues. Remember a few moments ago when we said he scrambles a lot? Well that’s one of the issues. Wilson has a tendency to break down early in the pocket. Instead of sticking with the design of the pass play, he’ll pull the ball down and start to run around. Again, he makes plays when he scrambles, but it’s hard to maintain a consistent offense around random great plays. If you remember, the Seahawks went through many ups and downs on offense in 2013. Inconsistency in the passing game was one reason why.
Now Wilson doesn’t break down in the pocket as often as some of the other young and athletic quarterbacks. He does generally have decent pocket presence. Again, for the most part, he maintains his downfield vision when he moves. In the end, his legs are an asset that he can and should use. He doesn’t need to be like Peyton Manning or Tom Brady to be successful.
Still, Wilson’s game and the Seahawks offense can improve vastly if he can play more consistently from the pocket. For instance, he could use some significant improvement against blitz pressure. Generally, the best answer for a blitz is for the quarterback to get rid of the ball quickly and take advantage of the one-on-one coverage. It’s the QB’s job to read the blitz, stay in the pocket, plant his back foot and deliver the ball in the face of oncoming pressure. Russell Wilson hasn’t been bad in these situations, necessarily. But his first instinct has been to escape and make a play. Sometimes there are no escape lanes, though. Because Wilson has not been great at planting quickly and throwing against the blitz, defenses have been able to have success against him when they bring pressure and are able to keep him in the pocket.
Russell Wilson has a bright future, make no mistake. He’s already had tons of success in his first two seasons, and success can lead to more confidence, which can lead to even more success. He’s in a great situation in Seattle. He can continue to develop while not bearing the weight of having to carry the team week in and week out. The physical and mental tools are there. For Wilson, it’s now about mastering the intricacies of the position.