The hype train has suddenly (and understandably) arrived in Seattle to visit the Seahawks.
Free-agency moves are dominating NFL storylines, but the fact that Seattle was able to trade for a versatile weapon in Percy Harvin speaks volumes about the direction of this franchise.
Wilson, the Seahawks' franchise centerpiece at quarterback, was brilliant as a rookie. The former Wisconsin Badger threw for 3,118 yards last season to accompany 26 touchdowns and a 64.1 completion percentage.
He also played at a level that was highly comparable (if not better than) to that of Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, as this tweet from ESPN Stats & Info points out:
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
#Seahawks Russell Wilson has as many games with a Total QBR of 90+ (5) as RGIII and Andrew Luck have combined.12/24/2012, 9:30:51 PM
The problem is that Seattle plays in one of the most competitive divisions in football in the NFC West.
Standing pat or resting on their laurels is simply not going to be enough for the Seahawks as the rest of the division gets better. The San Francisco 49ers made the Super Bowl last season and the St. Louis Rams have one of the best defensive teams in all of football.
The point of all this? The Seahawks must do everything possible to help their young signal-caller as he heads into his sophomore campaign.
A dynamic player like Harvin provides Wilson with a player that can do many things. Harvin can use his speed to spread the field vertically, spacing out defenders and opening up the middle of the field for tight ends and other receivers. However, Harvin is also fully capable of making tough catches over the middle himself.
Still, is solely signing Harvin enough to ensure Wilson's continued development? After all, the "sophomore slump" has happened before and it would not be shocking to see it take yet another victim. Just last season, Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers threw just six touchdowns through the first eight games of the year.
The best thing the Seahawks can do to help Wilson is to focus on varying their offensive sets and keeping Wilson a step ahead of opposing defenses.
Seattle's passing game was strongest last year when utilizing short-route passing options, often going through Golden Tate on underneath routes. Combining Tate's skills with Harvin's can create nightmares for opposing linebackers that will have trouble keeping up with the speedy wideouts on crossing patterns.
Similarly, the Pistol formation is an intriguing proposition because Harvin has shown such a tremendous ability to be effective out of the backfield. The prospect of Harvin, Wilson and running back Marshawn Lynch all taking turns in the Pistol and read-option sets is one that is hard to fathom.
However, the Seahawks cannot solely focus on gimmicks and innovation. Seattle has a strong offensive line and one of the most well-balanced running backs in all of football in Lynch. Remaining committed to the ground game and allowing Lynch to carry the ball 25 times or more per game is a clear recipe for success.
In fact, Seattle went 5-0 in games last season when Lynch carried the ball at least 25 times. Keeping defenses loaded up in the box to try and shut down Lynch is essential to Wilson's development because he cannot afford to have defenses leaking more players outside the box to stop the passing game.
Seattle has one of the most talented rosters in football and must be both smart and efficient to win games. Forcing Wilson into obvious passing situations on early downs, or abandoning the rushing attack early in games are both recipes for disaster.
Again, the Seahawks are going to be an extremely dangerous team heading into the 2013 season, but must do whatever possible to help Wilson going forward.
The early returns look pretty good in that regard.
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