Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks Strikingly Similar to 2009 New York Jets
There are many Seahawks fans that continue to praise Wilson while at the same time calling for him to be benched in favor of backup quarterback Matt Flynn.
The common theme is that he looks to have great potential but may not be ready to take a team to the playoffs. When a team like Seattle has an outstanding defense and one of the league’s top-rushing attacks, the thought is that we can’t wait for a guy like Wilson to grow into the position.
Considering my desire to see the Seahawks in the playoffs this year and avoid a third straight losing season under Pete Carroll, that particular argument strongly resonated with me.
After this weekend's game there have been a number of articles defending Pete Carroll’s decision to stick with Wilson. But none that I read seemed to mention how the Seahawks current scenario is reminiscent of the 2009 New York Jets and how they made the playoffs in spite of Mark Sanchez struggling through his rookie season.
Sanchez may not be having a great year this year, but by taking the Jets all the way to the AFC Championship in 2009 (and again in 2010), he will continue to give every team with a rookie quarterback hope.
The 2012 NFL season is only four weeks old, but there are already some big similarities starting to play out. In 2009, the Jets had the top-ranked defense and were especially strong in pass defense. After four weeks, the Seahawks have the second-ranked defense behind the Houston Texans, and while they have a solid pass defense, they are particularly strong against the run.
Another similarity the two teams share is in the running game. In 2009, the Jets were the top rushing team in the league, averaging more than 170 yards per game on the ground and 4.5 yards per carry. Thomas Jones, Shonn Green and Leon Washington combined for more than 2,200 yards.
Seattle has shown they intend to win games with their running game as well. The Seahawks currently rank sixth in the NFL with just over 150 yards per game. Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin are averaging 4.6 and 5.0 yards per carry respectively. Wilson is actually the team’s second-leading rusher at the moment with 80 yards, and should easily surpass Sanchez's 106 rushing yards in 2009.
The final set of statistics that compelled me the most to be content with Carroll’s decision to keep Wilson at quarterback, was looking at the Jets passing numbers. Sanchez averaged less than 165 yards per game, only throwing for more than 250 yards twice in 2009. He completed 53.8 percent of his passes, threw for only 12 touchdowns and was intercepted 20 times. His quarterback rating was 63.
While I keep reminding myself that it is early in the season, Wilson’s numbers are fairly similar. He’s on pace for 2400 yards with 16 touchdowns and 16 interceptions, and Wilson has completed 60 percent of his passes with a rating of 73.5.
It’s definitely too early to make any predictions on how the season will turn out for Seattle, but the Jets got off to a 3-0 in 2009 before losing six of their next seven games. They then won five of their final six games to make the playoffs as a wild card.
It’s possible the Seahawks could find themselves in a similar position as the 2009 Jets needing a big second-half turnaround. But with the NFC West leading the NFL in wins after four weeks, a 9-7 record may not be good enough to make the playoffs.
One thing the Seahawks need to show is that they can score. In spite of Sanchez only throwing 12 touchdown passes his rookie season, the Jets were 17th in the league in scoring. While the Seahawks have held opponents to only 58 points, Seattle is currently 27th in scoring and will need to improve.
There are a lot of comparisons that can be made between these two teams, but Seahawks wide receiver Braylon Edwards is in the unique position to be experiencing both seasons firsthand. Edwards played with Sanchez in 2009, and following the Seahawks preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Doug Farrar of Yahoo!Sports quotes him comparing the two.
"I see better things," said Edwards in regard to Wilson. "It's his approach. It's very veteran-like. He studies film; he breaks it down. He doesn't approach it like a rookie, and he's not looking for excuses. He's very impressive."
Perhaps I’m just looking for ways to be content with the Seahawks decision. I saw a great response to some back-and-forth jabs on Twitter where one Seahawk fan was criticized by another for having “blind faith” and being a sheep for supporting Carroll’s decision-making. The response: “It’s either be a sheep or pretend I have some magical influence over team decisions that I don’t.”
While I don’t consider myself a sheep, I recognize that I don’t have any influence either, so I’ll continue to be a fan along for the ride and hope the season turns out as well (or better) for the 2012 Seahawks as it did for the 2009 Jets.
Brandan Schulze is a Navy veteran and member of the Military Sea Hawkers, the military chapter of the official booster club for the Seattle Seahawks. For more information on the chapter, visit www.militaryseahawkers.com. Membership is free for all military service members and veterans.
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