2012 NFL Playoffs: Russell Wilson Has Become Overvalued
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I’m not questioning his talent because I do think as time goes on, he’ll become a Pro Bowl quarterback. Right now though, people have made Russell Wilson into an all-star quarterback that has taken the reigns in Seattle and become the guy. The argument is that with his athleticism and his arm, he is becoming every bit as good as Robert Griffin III and is the main focal point of the Seattle Seahawks' offense.
Wilson has put up gaudy numbers throwing for 3,100 yards with 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions for a passer rating of 100. Those numbers are great and there's no denying that Wilson has been productive, but he’s had arguably one of the best support systems in the NFL that doesn’t revolve around his throwing options.
When you watch Wilson play, you notice that he’s always moving and rarely stays in the pocket. He’s always making his best throws off play action and on the move. That is all great, but the best quarterbacks in the NFL know how to throw from the pocket. Wilson still tends to struggle with his accuracy, especially when he stays within the pocket. Here are more issues with Wilson and his growing reputation.
Signs Of Still Being A Game Manager
He’s still a game manager in my eyes and it showed against the Washington Redskins. Even though the Washington defense has improved, the team's secondary is a liability and can be thrown on. Wilson was mostly going through checkdowns and was off on numerous occasions downfield. His 57.7 percent completion rate tells the story.
He becomes wild at times and gets stuck by moving around too much, which leads to him having to throw the ball away. Now granted his weapons aren’t that special and Seattle should look to give him another top wide receiver, but once again this is on fans that classify him as a star quarterback.
If you watch the game against the Redskins, it was Marshawn Lynch running all over the Washington front seven. If he wasn’t having success, Wilson was put into third-down situations where Seattle was just five for 13. There is nothing wrong with a rookie leaning on his star running back, but when it’s playoff time and it’s third down, you have to make plays, which is something Wilson didn’t do enough of against Washington.
Poor Pocket Presence
Wilson did a poor job reading the blitz yesterday for the most part. That can be an issue with young quarterbacks, but Wilson didn’t make the pre-snap adjustments that quarterbacks should make when countering the blitz. It seemed like every time the Redskins blitzed, Wilson ended up either taking a sack or throwing it away.
Now I’ll give him credit for thinking like a veteran and not throwing it up for a possible turnover to avoid a sack, but he needs to make quicker reads and find his target. When he learns how to go through his progressions faster, he’ll grow even more.
Right now it seems like he takes far too much time in the pocket and that leads to scrambling to the sideline and throwing it away. You can’t trust your offensive line for too long. If he makes a quicker decision as to whether he should scramble or find a receiver, it will lead to more efficiency. He seemed too stagnant and that led to drives ending when they had momentum.
He missed some throws against Washington that could have broken the game wide open. Doug Baldwin beat Josh Wilson in coverage, but Wilson totally overthrew him for an easy touchdown. Then he had Sidney Rice open down field for another sure touchdown, but his tendency of staring down another receiver cost him there and he missed him.
It may be nitpicking, but these plays are going to be crucial for next week. With the way he was credited for winning the Washington game, he wasn’t making many great downfield throws that should be made by star quarterbacks.
The Seahawks have given him opportunities with their offensive game-planning and he has delivered for the past two months. However, it seemed like he was rattled throughout this game. Wilson is a competitor and always tries to make the next play like blocking downfield for Lynch’s go ahead touchdown run, but this is about him becoming a complete quarterback. With Seattle becoming a major contender now, he’s going to have to make those deep throws for the Seahawks to continue this hot streak.
Next Week’s Challenge
This isn’t to knock Wilson’s future or his potential going forward in the next three to five years. This is the present and it’s a situation where he has been given too much credit for the Seahawks' success. When you look at the No. 1 scoring defense allowing just 15 points a game and Marshawn Lynch running for almost 1,600 yards, those are the attributes that have affected Seattle’s success the most.
Wilson still has a lot to prove and he’s going to have the biggest challenge of his short career up against the Atlanta Falcons. With Mike Nolan’s always creating ways to fluster quarterbacks, Wilson has to be on his game. He may opt to scramble more but with the way Atlanta likes to blitz, he’s going to have throw in the pocket.
The hype for Wilson is major right now and I’m just not on board yet. It’s going to take more performances like he had against the 49ers in Week 16 for me to be convinced. It could start next Sunday, but for now the perception has made him overvalued in my eyes.
Eventually in the playoffs, quarterbacks have to make plays. Sure we’ve seen Brad Johnson and Trent Dilfer win Super Bowls, but times have changed and offenses have become too explosive to contain. Eventually you’ll need the quarterback to step up and make big throws, which is what Wilson is going to have to do Sunday. You’ll have teams put eight in the box and challenge Wilson to make throws downfield. It will happen Sunday and he’s going to have to step up against an aggressive Falcons defense.
I’ll be doing a full Seahawks versus Falcons preview for Friday breaking down the game. This was just to get across that Russell Wilson still hasn’t convinced me that he is a true star quarterback. If it wasn’t for Robert Griffin’s knee and Lynch breaking off some big runs, Wilson would have gotten criticized for his performance. With a tougher matchup this upcoming Sunday, we'll see what level Wilson is on as a starting quarterback.
Allen Strk is a columnist on Bleacher Report. You can read more of my work at TJRSports.com covering the NFL, NBA, and MMA. You can follow me at @Allen_Strk on Twitter or e-mail questions/comments at AStrk19@gmail.com.
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