A day that began with some prominent subtractions from Seattle's roster ended with a definitive statement: Rookie Russell Wilson will start the season at quarterback.
"He's earned this job," coach Pete Carroll said in a teleconference with reporters.
To some, this may be a surprise. But in reality, this shouldn't be a shock.
Just because the Seahawks signed Matt Flynn in the offseason didn't guarantee he'd be the starter, and with Tarvaris Jackson being 29 years old, Seattle needed more young blood at quarterback. Wilson was an obvious choice in the 2012 NFL draft, and clearly the Seahawks are impressed with the development of their investment.
Wilson being the man doesn't drastically alter the Seattle offense much. Still, his presence under center does present different challenges to any defense than Flynn's presence would.
Definitely Keep Feeding the Beast
It doesn't matter who's under center for the Seahawks, coach Pete Carroll should not stop feeding the beast.
Marshawn Lynch is their best offensive weapon, and having a rookie signal-caller at the helm, the ground game will be Wilson's best friend. Plus, with the NFC West continuing to become a defensive-oriented division, slamming between the tackles maintains a balance of power.
This ultimately helps set up play action, sprint-outs and read-option from shotgun and gets Lynch open for checkdowns and screens as well. Production from the ground attack simply forces a defense to acknowledge it by putting another player near/in the box.
Well, that obviously creates coverage vulnerabilities that Wilson can easily exploit with his natural passing talent. As long as Lynch remains the priority of the offense, Seattle will compete for a postseason berth.
Confidence in Pushing Downfield
This is one area where we saw Wilson really shine throughout the preseason.
The man displays an immense amount of confidence in the pocket, sees the field well and has excellent mechanics. Combine all these elements, and it's no surprise he averaged 13.25 yards per completion in the preseason (8.92 per attempt).
Now, yes, some of these completions came against second-team defenses, but the numbers were impressive nonetheless. When starting against the Kansas City Chiefs, Wilson went 13-of-19 for 185 yards and two touchdowns.
And that's a Chiefs defense with some stud players like Derrick Johnson and Eric Berry.
In another impressive trend, Wilson connected with seven different receivers against the Tennessee Titans, while doing himself one better against the Denver Broncos and Chiefs with eight different targets making at least one reception.
This kind of consistency spreading the field is rare. Provided Wilson keeps dishing the rock around the clock and launching when needed, Seattle's offense will explode in 2012.
Mobility Gives Way to More Misdirection
Coming from a pro-style set in Wisconsin, Wilson's mobility was utilized quite often, and it provides some intrigue to creating misdirection.
With a speedy receiver such as Golden Tate, Wilson could sprint out to his right and play-fake to Tate on a jet sweep to his inside. This then forces a defense to freeze, in case Tate were to get the handoff.
The play is almost like a reverse, but it eliminates the middle man and develops quicker. Using this can also open up the inside for shovel passes and middle screens as well.
A fake toss to Lynch and a bootleg opposite will get Wilson either open field outside the pocket or a bit more time to survey the coverage. Regardless of which defenses attempt to blitz, success will be limited due to his athleticism and the threat of Lynch on the ground.
So, manipulating the defense can become quite effective in certain game situations.
Wilson at the helm may not present any significant changes to the Seahawks offense, but he does allow for more creativity from the traditional "run to set up the pass" philosophy.
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