The Qualities of a Great QB/The Russell Wilson Thread, Part 2

Part 1 was getting really long, so I’m going to continue that thread here in this new one.

To start things, off I wanted to mention a little detail I noticed in the preseason game, something I’ve never seen Wilson do. I’m talking about throwing a slant from under center. Wilson has thrown quite a few quick slants from the shotgun, but I don’t think I can remember one example of him doing it from under center. (Maybe there was one time.) Bevell had him throw two in one game in the preseason, both times to Jermaine Kearse. The first pass went to the left, and the second went to the right. On the second throw, you can see why they don’t normally call this play. The pass-rushers got penetration on the right side, and Wilson ended up having to put some arch on the ball. The ball also was thrown a little behind Kearse, and Kearse had to make a slightly difficult catch.

My guess is that the coaches have a lot of faith in the interior linemen, as they have been playing well in the preseason. The three of them are quite stout, so I’m guessing the coaches are thinking they will really limit penetration. Having said that, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the last we see of these passes.

Now, on to something else. Someone point out this interesting article at NFL.com about the difficulty of playing QB. There’s a great anecdote about Wilson as well that I wanted to post here:

Seven months later, that guy — a third-round pick most people projected to be Seattle’s third-string quarterback in 2012 — showed up at the Seahawks’ training facility for a rookie minicamp.

“The first day of that minicamp, he completely took over,” Schneider recalls. “He had total command of the offense, and he was totally in charge. Pete [Carroll] said, ‘We’ve gotta mic this guy; this might be historical.’ So we did. I had a very quiet lovefest for the guy, and I got a lot of [expletive] for it in the office, early on.”

The “historical” remark made me laugh–mostly in affirmation and wonder. The one thing that stood out with me in Wilson’s rookie year was that he seemed freakishly mature and old, like he was the reincarnation of some older QB.

(By the way, Mitchell, if you’re reading this, the article does a pretty good job of showing why QBs have to be a certain way now versus in the past.)

33 Responses to “The Qualities of a Great QB/The Russell Wilson Thread, Part 2”


  1. Reid

    2016 Week 1 vs. Dolphins

    Ndamakung Suh stepped on Wilson’s ankle–and you could tell he was noticeably hurt. It was bad enough where the coaches used the pistol formation a lot more. Wilson gutted it out and lead a game-winning drive.

    He did have one awful INT, rolling out to his right he threw the ball into three defenders. (I don’t think there was any Seahawk receiver nearby.) He did something similar against the Cardinals in 2013 in Seattle.

  2. don

    How did he play before the injury? Looks like the Hawks was struggling a bit on offense.

  3. Reid

    I can’t remember about how he did specifically before the injury. The offense in general started slow, but it seemed like the top priority was avoiding the pass-rush–and this changed the offense more than normal. I think Wilson had 26 pass attempts in the first half and ended with 46 for the game, which is the most in his career, I believe. On the first drive, I want to say there were a lot of bubble screen and a lot of quick hitting pass plays.

  4. Reid

    I liked some of the quotes reported in this post from the Seahawks site–quotes from recent press conferences. The post is about Wilson’s development as a QB.

    Carroll spoke about how they really limited Wilson in his rookie year, being protective about his psyche and confidence (smart in my view). But Carroll expressed a little regret about being too cautious:

    “The Chicago game is still so vividly in my mind, what he did in that game, to get us back in it, it really showed us an elevation of quarterback play,” Carroll said. “Everybody was trying hard, everybody did well in that game and all, but Russell kind of took over the game, and it was in the game that I remember saying, ‘Bev, Bev cut him loose, don’t hold him back, let’s go.’ You could just feel it. I just wish I would have felt that sooner; we would have been better earlier.”

    (By the way, this was one of the games that really made me a fan. He just seem so calm, mature–like an old veteran–and he was leading the team in crunch time. It’s sounds crazy, but the QB that came to mind, while watching this game, was Joe Montana.)

    On his current ankle injury, I liked this quote from the News Tribune blog:

    This week is the first time he’s been on an injury report in the NFL.

    “Just kind of the mindset of being able to overcome a situation,” he said.

    Carroll marvels at how fiendishly Wilson has been trying to conquer this latest challenge.

    “His attitude is as charged up as you can imagine,” Carroll said. “As always, he’s excited to prove that he can make this back and get back and all that. He’s half-crazy about proving it.”

  5. Reid

    2016: Week 2 vs. the Rams

    It’s depressing to see Wilson play without his trademark mobility. There were no scrambles or runs that lead to an explosive play. There were no read-options. The Seahawks score only scored 3 points as a result. (The OL wasn’t very good, especially in run-blocking, but if Wilson was his normal self, I think they were good enough that he could have overcame those problems.)

    It’s just one game, but I feel like it’s an indication of how important Wilson’s mobility/scrambling/running has been to the success of the team. (Actually, the offense struggled against Miami, after this injury.)

    If the OL doesn’t improve, and Wilson doesn’t heal up, this could be a long, ugly season.

    Oh, Wilson didn’t play bad, and he should be given credit for gutting it out.

  6. don

    Seattle didn’t struggle even before Wilson’s injury? It’s not like they put up that many points and their only touchdown came after he was injured in the Miami game. I didn’t see the game, but based on the box score it doesn’t seem like Seattle was way better with a healthy Wilson.

    I think the lack of running game is hurting them thus far, too. They stick with it, which is great, but Seattle (and my fantasy team too) will need Rawls to come back healthy if they want to turn this ship around. I’m not convinced Michaels can get them what they need.

  7. Reid

    Seattle didn’t struggle even before Wilson’s injury?

    Sure, but not like this. One main difference is that there really haven’t been explosive plays from running/scrambling. I always thought that the unique talents of Wilson and Lynch mitigated and hid many of the deficiencies on offense. Without Lynch and without Wilson’s extraordinary athleticism, this hypothesis will be put to the test–especially if the OL doesn’t improve.

    Speaking of which, the running game comes down to the OL. In the Rams game, they looked horrid (although maybe the fact that the read-option wasn’t being utilized hurt the running game). It got a little better in the second half, and ultimately, they have to do better if the run game is going to be a factor.

    As for Michael, I actually have confidence that he can be productive–he’s shown me that much–if the OL can block well. (My question with Michael is if he can keep his head right consistently, especially if he starts getting a lot of success.)

  8. Reid

    Overcoming Injury in a Legendary(?) Way

    Wilson has a high-ankle sprain on one of his legs, which occurred in the first game, and a MCL sprain against the Niners in week 3. I think most would agree these are challenging injuries, but it may be more than that. In an interview with Mike Holmgren about the high-ankle sprain, Holmgrem doubted that it was an actual high ankle sprain because he felt it would be nearly impossible for Wilson to play (at least that fast; I need to go back and find the interview and re-listen to it).

    The other crazy thing: Wilson kept mentioning how he was attacking the rehab, so that he could get on the field. What does that mean? This partly meant that he flew up his therapist/trainer from California, who would stay at Wilson’s house. With the MCL injury, Wilson would wake up throughout the night to stretch and work out the kneed to keep it from staying in one position too long. I’m not sure if other QBs go do this, but this is the first time I’ve heard of it.

    (With regard to the Rams game, I think I didn’t mention that C-Mike fumbled on what could have been the game-winning drive. I think they would have had a really good chance of winning that, had he not fumbled.)

    2016 Week 4 vs. the Jets

    Wilson had a really good game, especially considering he was gimpy. He didn’t scramble in any Tarkentonian way, but he did move around to make plays. Credit also goes to Graham, Richardson and Baldwin for making tough catches. Also, the OL played solid, and that was a big factor. I continue to believe that Wilson will shred defenses if the OL and WR/TEs play well.

    As far as I remember, none of his throws were in danger of being intercepted, and he ended up with zero turnovers for the day.

  9. Reid

    It’s amazing how often one will yell, “Throw it away!” and Russ will do something amazing.

    (Wilson threw a TD pass with about 6 seconds left before the half.)

  10. Reid

    From the Eagles game.

    This throw is incredible (although Baldwin couldn’t pull it in):

    Check out this one, too. How did Wilson make this throw?

  11. Reid

    Wilson’s college O-linemen at Wisconsin, four of them in the NFL, share their thoughts about Wilson. It’s not a great piece, but I thought I’d put it in here.

  12. Reid

    Question for you guys: who are the other QBs–as good or better than Wilson–that have had as bad an OL, and a times a weak pass-catching group, as Wilson?

    The first QBs that come to mind are QBs like Archie Manning, maybe Bert Jones (but I never had the impression that he was good). But I don’t know if they would count.

    Let’s list some of the great QBs: Marino, Montana, Elway, Peyton Manning, Brady, Favre, Staubach, Bradshaw, Moon, Steve Young,…Of those, I think Brady’s pass-catchers weren’t that great, early in his career, but I don’t remember his OL being as bad as the Seahawks’. Elway might not have had a great OL, but his WRs, early in his career, seemed pretty good (the “three amigos”–although maybe Elway had a lot to do with that. I think Bradshaw might not have had a great supporting cast early on, but I can’t really remember.

    Who am I missing?

  13. don

    Let’s say the Seahawk OL is bottom five in the league. I think that’s fair. But what are you saying their receiving corp is? They are not that bad, I think. Is Jimmy Graham not an elite receiver? Is it because of his injury? What about Brees? His receiving corp since the Super Bowl hasn’t been great, and if I remember correctly his offensive line had some major issues in terms of injuries and overall talent.

  14. Reid

    Wait, to be clear, I’m talking about Wilson’s entire career so far.

    Oh, the pass-catchers this year are solid–Wilson’s first year, they were solid, too–although if you compare them to some of those great QBs, with the exception of Brady and Elway (early in their careers).

    AS for Brees, he’s had a good OL, if not a very good one, for most of his time in New Orleans. This year, I’d say his OL is solid, if not more than that, especially in pass-protection. His receiving corps, since losing Graham and Colston has declined and retired, hasn’t been that great. (Less then guys like Montana, Young, et al.)

  15. Reid

    Russell Wilson May Be the Best QB When Under Pressure This is based on an article Football Outsiders. I haven’t read the latter, but I tend to agree.

    In terms of playing under duress, I’m not sure there is a better QB I’ve seen. Actually, I think Phillip Rivers has been really impressive in this regard. Oh, from what I remember, Hostetler really impressed me–and it’s one of the reasons he’s one of my favorites. There might be many other QBs, since I’ve been watching, that surpass Wilson–but my memory is faulty so I’m not remembering them.

  16. don

    I would agree Wilson is up there in terms of best QB under pressure. But what QB would you least want to blitz. How far up there would Wilson be on that list? Marino, Brady, and Rodgers have to be higher on the list of QBs defenses should be concerned about blitzing.

  17. Reid

    Hmm, I’m not sure how far up the list he’d be. I think I would choose the QBs you mentioned, over Wilson. Maybe even QBs like Young and Montana, too. Oh, Peyton Manning should definitely be up there. In fact, Manning and Brady might be at the top, although my memory about the older QBs like Marino are a bit hazy. Having said that, Wilson is pretty dang good at handling the blitz. Indeed, I think it’s not a great formula for neutralizing him as he will make you pay. Selecting blitzing, however, can be effective, although I guess you can say that about a lot of the great QBs.

  18. Reid

    Difficult play–and it’s not all that uncommon. (Great play by Doug)

  19. Reid

    Preseason highlights of Wilson During His Rookie Year

    His play action fakes look better than they do now.

  20. Reid

    2017, Week 1: Pass Blocking for Wilson

    I’m interested in discussing this. It’s a three minute clip of every pass play for the Seahawks. (It’s 3 minutes.) Some first impressions:

    At first I thought were quite a few decent pockets. Later though, it dawned on me that the pockets collapsed pretty quickly, especially when the Packers rushed only four. And sometimes a pass rusher would break free. With four rushing, you’ve got seven in coverage. The OL has got to give more time to Wilson for the pass play to succeed.

    Off the top of my head, I didn’t notice any tricky stunts or twists, either. The pass rush seemed pretty basic for the most part, but I’ll go back and check that.

  21. Don

    The jailbreak situations are unacceptable and I don’t think I’ve seen more of those in one NFL game than I did in this one. The times there isn’t a jailbreak, although not ideal, I think the Seahawks should be able to be somewhat successful if receivers can make plays. Basically I feel it’s enough time to make plays, but Wilson and the rest of the players need to rely on the fact that jailbreaks will be far and few between. On Wilson, I would say he has to step inside of the outside rushers to give his linemen a chance. The outside guys were getting beat outside and there are times Wilson was trying to scramble outside of that. He needs to step inside of that mess than get to the outside if he wishes. Overall he would be better off if he step into the pocket more, but if that isn’t his style, then he at least has to give his outside linemen a chance by stepping on the inside of them.

  22. Reid

    The jailbreak situations are unacceptable and I don’t think I’ve seen more of those in one NFL game than I did in this one.

    You could be right. There were a stretch in the Jaguars-Texans came where the Texans OL looked pretty bad, too. (Did the Jaguars get 11 sacks? That can’t be right.)

    The times there isn’t a jailbreak, although not ideal, I think the Seahawks should be able to be somewhat successful if receivers can make plays.

    I sort of felt this way, initially, especially since on more than a few the pocket looked decent. But I realized that the Packers often rushed four (and nothing really complex) and the pocket collapsed really quickly. This means Russ has to get the ball out quick, and there’s seven back in coverage. It’s OK if that happens every once and a while and there are several plays where Russ has a lot of time, but there were too little of those (and I think they came off of play action or rolling out, instead of a standard spread-shot-gun formation.)

    Do you agree with that?

    On Wilson, I would say he has to step inside of the outside rushers to give his linemen a chance. The outside guys were getting beat outside and there are times Wilson was trying to scramble outside of that. He needs to step inside of that mess than get to the outside if he wishes. Overall he would be better off if he step into the pocket more, but if that isn’t his style, then he at least has to give his outside linemen a chance by stepping on the inside of them.

    You don’t think the pocket collapses way too fast (too much of the time)? To me, Wilson’s clock has to be a tad below 3 seconds. If he stays inside, he wouldn’t have a lot of time. (There might be one play action play where he probably should have stayed inside, but bounced outside.) And I still think he needs space in front of him to see and throw. He’s never really tried to throw the ball with a wall of players almost directly in front of him (like Luck or Rivers).

  23. Don

    Yeah the Jags had 10 sacks I think, but I didn’t see that game. And 10 is not that much, Derrick Thomas had that much by himself in one game I’m pretty sure.

    In the video, you see times when the ball came out quickly and there wasn’t a jailbreak. I’m not sure how successful, but teams can at least survive doing that. It’s tough because you have to be sort of flawless and a team that relies heavy on short passes or short runs cannot have plays where they lose yards (ie: jailbreaks). Those are drive stoppers. But my point is it’s not dire and it’s possible, although as I said, “…not ideal”. I’m sure the line will get better too.

    When watching the video and watching Wilson overall there are times he is running into the outside rushers or running in the way of the rushers. He doesn’t necessarily get sacked, but he’s not helping himself or his linemen in those plays. It’s tough because when there are significant amount of jailbreaks, how do you trust his linemen, but if he had perfect hindsight, there are times he should step inside of the outside rusher. There were at least three plays in which Wilson ran right into an outside rusher in that video, whereas in those plays if he stepped into the pocket and let his linemen push those rushers wide, he still would have had a chance to get outside the pocket. Seattle should try the ten to twelve yard drop like I seen Alex Smith do in the first game of the season. It really allowed Smith to maneuver because of the space it creates between the interior linemen and himself.

  24. Reid

    You’re joking about Thomas getting 10 sacks in one game, right? I know Thomas had six in one game–I’m pretty sure it was against the Raiders. (Looked it up: Thomas had 7 in one game, which is the most sacks in a game.)

    In the video, you see times when the ball came out quickly and there wasn’t a jailbreak. I’m not sure how successful, but teams can at least survive doing that.

    The fact that they often only rush four and get so much pressure isn’t an issue for you? To me, that’s really important. You don’t think that’s a challenge for the WRs/TEs and a huge advantage for the defense? To me, if a defense rushes four, you’ve got have several plays where the QB has a lot of time. That’s the type of situation where the QB can make the defense pay.

    When you watch teams that rush four a lot, it’s rare that they get the kind of pressure that the Packers consistently got. (The Jaguars were another one. The Cowboys also, to a lesser extent.) But the seven in coverage makes up for that. If a defense can get consistent pressure/sacks with four, it’s very hard to beat that in my opinion.

    When watching the video and watching Wilson overall there are times he is running into the outside rushers or running in the way of the rushers.

    I watched it again. I don’t really know what you mean. If you’re motivated let me know which plays you think he should have done that on. There’s one, off of a play action where he bounces outside, when he might have been able to stay inside (the pocket). But if you watch, there’s a pass rusher that flashes in the A gap, and you see Wilson bounce outside after.

    Oh, the first play might be a play where he could have stayed inside, but Brock Huard breaks the play down and according to him, the play was designed to go to Chris Carson. Carson is supposed to swing out to the left for a pass (like a wheel route).

    If Huard is right, I don’t think Wilson gets a better angle to pass if he moves inside. I could be wrong, though. But that would be one play.

    There’s another where Wilson takes a bit long waiting to step up in the pocket and get sacked. But that’s the play where the LT gets run over. (It’s the third play.)

    There’s another off play action, where he seems to have a lot of space. But the whole left side of the DL drops back. It almost looks like a screen. And Wilson ends up dumping it off to the RB (almost a lateral). It looks like it was a busted play or people weren’t open downfield.

    There were at least three plays in which Wilson ran right into an outside rusher in that video, whereas in those plays if he stepped into the pocket and let his linemen push those rushers wide, he still would have had a chance to get outside the pocket.

    Does it sound like I mentioned the plays, or do you think they are different ones?

    Seattle should try the ten to twelve yard drop like I seen Alex Smith do in the first game of the season. It really allowed Smith to maneuver because of the space it creates between the interior linemen and himself.

    I’m not sure how you can compare the two situations. The Patriots ability to rush the passer wasn’t very good, was it? Last year, I thought they might have had one of the worst pass-rushing DLs, and if I remember correctly, that impression didn’t change from the Chiefs game.

  25. Reid

    2017, Week 2

    I thought Wilson looked spooked in this game, more than I’ve seen in a long time. He has seemed to make a lot of bad throws, and decisions, about two or three that decisions seemed really bad, and he was fortunate they weren’t picked off. The weather was rainy (and windy, I think), so that might have been a factor as well.

    Having said that, he made key plays, including the last TD (which was an incredible play), without which, they probably lose.

    Here’s Baldy on some of the blocking:

  26. Reid

    From the 49er game. This seems insane to me–not only the individual plays, but how often this happens. Avoiding the sack itself is an accomplishment, and Wilson manages to throw a TD on the second clip! I really think people might be underestimating how bad this OL is, because of the clips below happen so often and Wilson makes it look easy and routine.

    It’s insane and absurd.

  27. Reid

    Week 3: vs. Titans

    Every offensive snap

    When you look at this, the OL doesn’t look as bad. Wilson’s errant passes in the first half seem like a bigger deal. The run-blocking looks pretty decent in some stretches, although in the second half there’s a point where the Titans seem to shut down the run (with LBS or S shooting the gaps).

  28. Reid

    Week 4: vs. the Colts

    Russ had two picks. One was sort of his fault. The pass drifted, allowing the DB to (tip it?) and snag it. The other one went through the hands of Graham. Solid throw. I don’t recall Russ throwing anything else that came close to be intercepted, but I could be forgetting something.

    Here’s one of his magical plays:

  29. Reid

    Week 5 vs. the Rams

    Wilson’s performance is a blur in my mind. I do remember one play, and it’s one I that I like, which is weird because it’s a bad INT by Wilson. Here’s the play

    I like this play because of Wilson’s hustle. It kinda reminded me of Darrell Green chasing down Tony Dorsett. It’s not as impressive in terms of athleticism, but I love Wilson’s hustle on this. Right after the INT occurs, you can see Wilson put his head and sprinting downfield to try and cut off the runner.

  30. Reid

    Week 8 vs. the TExans

    The thing that stands out is not the 400+ passing yards or 4 TDs, but the INT near the end zone at the end of the game when they were losing. It was a terrible pass (although Carroll claims that was more the WR’s fault; I’m a bit skeptical to be honest).

    Still, Wilson redeemed himself but driving the ball down and scoring for the winning TD soon after.

    I thought the OL gave him a decent amount of time and decent amount of plays. Wilson still took some shots, though:

    Pretty impressive throw.

    Edit (11/2/2017)

    Listen to this discussion (30:00 minute mark) between Brock Huard and Rich Gannon. Gannon thought Wilson’s INT was the end of the game, and he marvels at how Wilson quickly puts that behind him. Huard agrees and says that this ability may be one of Wilson’s greatest attributes. I agree. A good example is in the 2014 NFCCG, where Wilson has a horrible game, throwing 4 INTs, but remarkably leads the team back, including throwing a game-winning TD in OT. Also, 2013 NFCCG, Wilson fumbles on the first play of the game. Later, throws a big 4th down TD.

  31. Reid

    Louis Riddick Film Break down

    What I want to point out is the amount of space Wilson has on both throws, especially in front of him. If the OL can consistently give him this type of pocket, and the WRs/TEs aren’t struggling to get open, he will shred defenses from the pocket all day. One could counter and say that this could be said about a lot of QBs. That would be true about the best, but one narrative about Wilson is that he’s not that great in the pocket. In my view, if you give enough space (particularly to step into) and WRs/TEs aren’t blanketed, he will kill you. And I think he’s been that way for a long time.

    By the way, my guess is that there’s a certain number of these pockets, say 5-8 per game, where if he get this amount, he will be able to get in a groove, his confidence will be strong, enabling him to perform well when the pockets aren’t so clean. I would guess this applies to all QBs, although the number may differ from QB to QB. I’m almost certain that in his career, he hasn’t thrown a ball with zero space in front of him more than five times. In fact, I kind feel like the number is closer to two.

    Edit: Samuel Gold Breakdown

    Edit

    I spoke about Wilson’s need for a lot of space. The clip below is one of the few examples where he throw the ball with virtually no space in front of him. But notice the players are fairly spread out, the bottom isn’t muddy with bodies–it’s just two guys. (There is one other instance I can recall, coming from a Niner game.)

  32. Reid

    Week 10: vs. the Cardinals

    I’m kinda disgusted with the Seahawks, but I wanted to post this Tarkentonian move by Wilson. (Wilson got lucky–although to be fair, he’s had plays like this in the past.)

    Yeah, you can see Bruce Arians doubling-over. I don’t blame him one bit.

  33. Mitchell

    The Cardinals look great in those unis.

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