By Michael LeCompte
“I will keep evolving. I will not allow one play or one game to define my career.”
When Russell Wilson tweeted out the above statement after the tragic ending of the Super Bowl last February it sounded good. He’s the consummate pro, what else could he say, right?
Now he is showing us, though. The old adage that “actions speak louder than words” is often true and Wilson’s actions over the past four weeks have been nothing short of deafening.
For the season Wilson is completing 68.5% of his passes. Over Seattle’s current four game winning streak he has thrown 16 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. His passes are on time and on target, he is putting the ball on his receivers over the middle and applying the perfect touch on deep passes.
The knock on Wilson since he entered the league has been that he is too small, a scrambler, nothing more than a game manager at best. A Super Bowl ring has not silenced the critics, but the season he is putting together, how his play is maturing, should at least make them think before speaking or writing negatively now.
Wilson has always had the ability to scramble away from pressure and scamper for big plays, however, his evolution into an elite passing quarterback has coincided with a natural decrease in his rushing numbers. So far this season he has carried the ball 86 times for 450 yards and a touchdown (still very respectable numbers for a quarterback, but not what we have seen over the past few season).
Teams try to contain Wilson in the pocket and prevent him from running, but now he is exhibiting the ability to beat opponents with his arm. He is efficiently picking defenses apart, similar to the way Brady and Rodgers have for years.
Wilson’s evolution as a passer is even more evident when viewed in comparison to Colin Kaepernik, his main division rival over the last few years. Like Wilson, Kaepernik was a guy with a strong arm, but who was considered more of a running threat. Their rivalry was expected to replace Brady vs. Manning and dominate the NFL for the next decade, however, only one of the two has evolved as a quarterback.
While Kaepernik could still probably outrun any other quarterback in the league he never quite developed into the passer he should have. Haunted by poor mechanics, bad passes, and now injury, he seems to have played himself out of San Francisco.
After a poor start this season Seattle is probably not a Super Bowl caliber team, but they are now legitimate playoff contenders, thanks largely to the evolution of Russell Wilson. No longer just a scrambler or merely a game manager, he is an elite quarterback who has proven himself capable of taking over a game and carrying his team to victory.
“I will keep evolving.”
If Russell Wilson’s words continue to ring true the rest of the NFL should beware.