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Enemy Lines: Russell Wilson

Posted Oct 31, 2013

In just a year-and-a-half in the NFL, Seattle QB Russell Wilson has rendered his supposed height disadvantage a moot point thanks to a superb set of skills and an 'impeccable' work ethic

  • QB Russell Wilson has excelled in the NFL despite a supposed height advantage, winning 16 of 24 starts so far
  • Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll raves about Wilson's makeup, including his work ethic and his self-confidence
  • The Seahawks' 7-1 start tags them as serious Super Bowl contenders but they are working on staying focused on the task at hand
Russell Wilson went 75th overall in the 2012 draft, one that began with fellow quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III going 1-2 and three other passers going among the first 57 picks.  Even his own team, the Seattle Seahawks chose to address two defensive positions first before grabbing Wilson in the third round.  Clearly, there was some cause for uncertainty among scouts as to Wilson's NFL viability, and given his many obvious strengths – intelligence, arm strength, running ability, feel for the game – the obvious sticking point was Wilson's height.  He stands roughly 5-11 in a league that considers 6-5 to be the quarterback prototype and views the 6-0 Drew Brees as an interesting anomaly.

Obviously, there are no longer any doubts as to whether or not Wilson can play quarterback in the NFL.  He won the Seahawks' starting job by opening day of his rookie season and since has won 18 of 24 starts.  Dating back to the midway point of last season, Wilson has a passer rating of 109.0 that is second only to the 111.5 put up by Denver's Peyton Manning.  He's been unflappable under pressure, already producing eight comeback victories in games in which his team trailed in the fourth quarter.

But he's not doing any of it to prove his draft-day doubters wrong or to make a statement about "short" quarterbacks.  Rather, he is simply working to make the most of out of his innate talents so that he can win as many games as possible and maximize his enjoyment of the game he loves.

-- Seattle QB Russell Wilson has a 109.0 passer rating since Week Nine of last year
"I get satisfaction on preparing the right way," said Wilson.  "Like I always say, 'the separation is in the preparation' and making sure that I’m preparing the right way. And then, come game day – you know, there’s no better day than game day – just hitting the field, going out there and playing the game of football is such a blessing."

Wilson uses that 'separation-preparation' line frequently – it's something of a personal motto – but according to those around him he never deviates from that approach.  His head coach, Pete Carroll, couldn't have asked for a better leader to help create the positive, confident atmosphere he has fostered in Seattle.

“He’s just an extraordinary individual in so many ways," said Carroll of Wilson.  "He’s smart, he’s got great character, he’s got tremendous makeup about what’s important to himself and how he wants to project himself. His work habits are impeccable, he’s an incredible competitor, he’s got great self-confidence, and believes in what he is capable of doing, in that there’s nothing that he doesn’t think he can’t do. He’s a fantastic athlete to go along with all of that, so whatever he can think of doing he can basically do."

Last year, the Seahawks came in second in the NFC West by a half-game to eventual conference champion San Francisco, took a Wild Card seeding into Washington to start the playoffs and knocked off Griffin and company, 24-14. The Seahawks' heady ride ended the next weekend in Atlanta in a thrilling 30-28 loss, but the team had shown so much promise that they were considered strong Super Bowl contenders heading into 2013.  Only a wild 34-28 loss to Luck's Indianapolis Colts in Week Five have kept the Seahawks from matching Kansas City as the only two undefeated teams in the first half of the season, and one couldn't blame Wilson and his teammates from having championship aspirations.

And they do, but at the moment that means focusing those aspirations on the task at hand – preparing to the point of separation every weekend.

“I think the biggest thing for us is just staying focused on the now, staying focused on the moment and staying focused on this week and this practice," said Wilson.  "I think that’s what we’ve done so well this year.  Every game – we’ve played a lot of big games so far; when you think about some of the teams we’ve played it hasn’t been easy. I think the biggest thing for us is we stay focused on that want-it-all mentality. Can we go 1-0 every week and can we have that championship mentality day-in and day-out? I think that’s what we bring to the table and what allows us to play at a high level and gives us a chance come Sundays.”

Indeed, the Seahawks believe that Wilson, their supposedly "vertically-challenged" quarterback, can lead them to greater heights than ever before.  One thing is for certain: Wilson won't spare any effort in trying to make that goal a reality.

"The Lord’s given me a lot of talent, and, like I always say, my height doesn’t define my skillset," he said. "It’s one of those things that I just try to work at my craft and try to master my craft on a daily basis. I think the satisfaction I get is just winning football games. At the end of the day, that’s all I want to do, help our football team win in whatever fashion that is, and I’ll do whatever it takes.”