Areas Where Russell Wilson Can Improve Most in 2013

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Areas Where Russell Wilson Can Improve Most in 2013
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

He’s only going to get better.

That’s what Russell Wilson’s head coach Pete Carroll thinks as the standout rookie quarterback begins to prepare for his sophomore NFL season.

It’s hard to imagine him getting that much better after taking the NFL by storm in 2012, but we’re intrigued by Carroll’s comments nonetheless. After all, it was the wily coach who saw potential in Wilson after QB-starved teams passed over him—twice—in the 2012 draft.

Looking back, it’s also hard to imagine why Wilson slid all the way to the third round for Carroll to swoop him up.

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Prior to draft day, most media outlets and scouting sources labeled Wilson as a mid-round pick due to concerns about his size. The 5’11” QB dispelled those concerns in 2012 by finding space to throw with his legs. He scrambled and moved the pocket to find passing lanes and succeeded in finding receivers after coverage broke down.

The end result was a record-setting performance that we won’t soon forget.

Wilson shocked us all by throwing for 3,118 yards, 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions with a 100.00 passer rating in his rookie campaign. Those numbers and some of his performances set records for rookie QBs.

His 26 touchdowns tied Peyton Manning’s record and his 26-to-10 touchdown-to-interception ratio was the best mark ever by a rookie passer.

Nobody is perfect, though.

We’ll take a look at a couple of areas that Wilson can improve on in 2013.

 

Going Deep

Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Trying to find a hole in Wilson’s 2012 performance, especially in the second half of the season, wasn’t easy. The first thing we found was his inconsistency while throwing the football deep.

Here we’ll look at a shot of Wilson overthrowing WR Ben Obomanu in Week 1 against the Arizona Cardinals.

Arizona Cardinals’ defensive lineman Calais Campbell pushes his way into Wilson’s face. Campbell then gets his arms up and helps force an overthrow by the young QB who was surely feeling the pocket closing around him.

Wilson had a defender in his face while making this throw, but he has to make a better throw to give his receiver a chance to make a play on the football.

This is just one example of the QB’s struggles throwing the ball deep. Let’s take a look at the numbers to get a better idea of his ability.

Big plays are typically defined by throws of more than 20 yards. While Wilson excelled in throwing the football in the intermediate range (21-30 yards), he struggled when had issues when attempting to go deeper.

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Wilson completed six of his 17 pass attempts on throws of 31 to 40 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. On throws of 41 to 50 yards (such as the overthrow in the picture above), Wilson completed just two passes all season with one touchdown and three interceptions.

This isn’t a huge deficiency, as not many QBs in the league throw many passes that deep in a full season. Ball security is big when going down the field, though. Wilson’s five interceptions in these situations are alarmingly high in comparison to others around the league.

Deep accuracy is a crucial tool for a QB to help keep defensive coordinators honest. If a coordinator doesn’t have to worry about the deep ball he can send blitzes and contain packages that corral the quarterback to keep him from escaping and making plays with his feet.

 

Pocket Presence

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Russell Wilson was sacked 33 times in 2012.

Wilson’s presence in the pocket wasn’t ideal at times. As seen in the example earlier, his throws from the pocket are affected by pressure up the middle and from the edges.

Part of his improvement in this area will come in the form of blitz recognition. After diagnosing a blitz and switching protections he will be able to anticipate pressure better and make better football movements to deliver the ball more accurately down the field.

ESPN Stats & Information listed Wilson’s completion efficiency against five or more blitzers at 58.5 percent last season. That’s a significant drop from his 66.5-percent mark against pressure with four or fewer pass rushers.

That stat is a little confusing, too, given Wilson’s ability to scramble and make plays while on the move.

It all boils down to improving his pre-snap reads and executing. There isn’t much more that can be said. It’s an instinct and knowledge of the game. Luckily, Wilson is a smart and hard-working player who will likely make big strides in this area next season.

 

Consistency on the Road

Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

There’s no place like home.

That’s especially true for a rookie QB who was still acclimating to the speed of the professional game. Wilson never seemed to be truly overwhelmed, but he did let some throws get away from him when playing away from CenturyLink Field.

His numbers weren’t actually too far off on the road with exception to those miscues. He tossed 17 touchdowns and just two interceptions at home while completing 64.6 percent of his passes.

On the road he faltered a bit by throwing nine touchdowns and surrendering eight interceptions with a 63.8-percent completion rate.

Experience is a huge key for quarterbacks to succeed. Now that he has of a full season under his belt to work off of he should be able to improve his consistency while playing in hostile environments.

 

Mike is a league-wide NFL featured columnist and Breaking News Team writer with Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter for a good convo., analysis, and breaking sports news updates:

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