BY Art Thiel 06:07PM 09/06/2012

Thiel: Seahawks’ Wilson: What’s the big deal?

Everywhere he has played, Russell Wilson has been a lightning study and an apt student. Now comes the Ph.D presentation starting Sunday.

No expectations for Russell Wilson are higher than his own. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

Sunday at Arizona will be Russell Wilsons first official NFL game, but it’s not his first dive into the deep end. Each time, the kid has come up free of the bends.

From deep in the depth, he started as a freshman for North Carolina State and held the job for three years. After leaving to play minor league baseball, he returned cold to college football, transferring to Wisconsin, where he started every game his senior year.

Now he’s a starter on his first NFL team by his first game. When the NASA rover Curiosity bumps into the Martian Football League, Wilson likely will be the first to start there.

To paraphrase an infamous remark by his coach, Pete Carroll, that is Wilson’s deal: Nothing is a big deal. He expects to be the best.

“I don’t get caught up in it,” he said, talking with reporters Thursday after practice at the team’s headquarters. “I’m excited about the opportunity. It’s another football game in a place that I’ve never played before, but same distance on the field.”

Which is not to say he doesn’t appreciate the extravagant shot he’s been given, nor the odds he is scaling. It’s just that, to him, it’s the natural order of things.

“Being the starter my freshman year was an exciting moment for me,” he said. “At the same time I’ve been working for that my whole life, similar to here. Going to Wisconsin, that kind of happened again (starting immediately).

“Then coming here . . . it’s one of those things where I just try to prepare the best way possible.”

Wilson is so athletically gifted and so relentless in his work habits that he understood he was headed for big things fast. It seems to have weighed heavily on the decision to abandon his baseball career after he was taken in the fourth round, 140th overall, in the 2010 draft by the Colorado Rockies.

Baseball would simply take him longer to get where he felt he belonged — the top.

“It was one of those things where I had an unbelievable opportunity, but I also had to take an unbelievable risk,” he said of giving up pro ball to return for a final year of college football. “It was extremely tough. I was competing with myself trying to figure out what is best for my life and what do I need to do. I was just very relaxed and I prayed about it and trusted in the Lord that he’d guide me in the right direction. I knew I was going to end up being successful just because of the hard work that I put into it.

“I still had a long way to go (in professional baseball). You have to go through the minor league levels. At the same time I knew I had this other thing waiting for me in football.  If I didn’t do that, I knew I would’ve regretted it for the rest of my life just because I would’ve never known what I could’ve done in the NFL.”

Even though Wilson’s feat gets most of the attention, he’s well aware he’s part of a rookie class that could have five starters on the field, should Robert Turbin, a second-round pick from Utah State, supplant at running back Marshawn Lynch, who has been limited throughout the preseason by back spasms. Overall, nine of the 10 draftees in April made the active roster, missing on linebacker Korey Toomer, a fifth-round pick from Idaho.

No. 1 pick Bruce Irvin will start at defensive end, and No. 2 pick Bobby Wagner is likely at middle linebacker. Seventh-rounder J.R. Sweezy, a converted defensive lineman and teammate of Wilson’s at North Carolina State, will start at right guard.

“We always talk about that,” said Wilson, who rooms with Turbin. “We have had some group rookie meetings where we have talked about how we can impact this football team, and also how we can impact the NFL, too. We have a lot of talent, from our first-rounder in Bruce Irvin to the last guy picked (Sweezy). J.R., who played defense his whole career at N.C. State, who I grew up with and played with in college, has really made a huge difference in our football team.

“More than anything we have to keep growing and keep building on this success thus far — if you want to call it that.”

A 4-0 preseason isn’t really success as much as an indication of direction. For sure, that direction is younger. The Seahawks will have only one starter in his 30s, defensive end Chris Clemons. They were the second-youngest team in the NFL last season, and won’t be far from it again.

The direction points toward better, too. That might not be apparent during the shakedown cruise of the first game. Wilson will get knocked around some, maybe a lot, but it will be because he is temporarily over-matched, not intimidated.


YourThoughts

  • Timmchugh

    Yeah!  Bring on the new season…there’s something different going on here and I just got a gut feeling we’re going to take the league by storm.  

    I’m sure I’m not alone in my feeling that we’re getting spoiled here with far more Art Thiel than we ever got in the PI.  Always entertaining and informative.  Thanks!

    • Bayviewherb

      This may the first time in the history of the Seahawks that our first string qb and 2nd string qb are so close in talent that if one goes down we can still win. Flynn is a very good qb as well.

      • Pixeldawg13

         Well, no–we’ve had several seasons where the #2 QB was basically equal to the #1.  Problem being that in those years, our “#1″ was very bad indeed.

        • Artthiel

           Pixel, sounds like you remember McGwire, Gelbaugh, Mirer, Stouffer, etc. Do yourself a favor and put the nightmare to bed.

          • Bayviewherb

            Tomoreow will be interesting.

      • Artthiel

         That’s a key point in why Carroll feels the risks have been minimized in starting a rookie.

    • Artthiel

       You’re a fine man, Tim.. Please tell your friends about SPNW!

  • Timmchugh

    Yeah!  Bring on the new season…there’s something different going on here and I just got a gut feeling we’re going to take the league by storm.  

    I’m sure I’m not alone in my feeling that we’re getting spoiled here with far more Art Thiel than we ever got in the PI.  Always entertaining and informative.  Thanks!

    • Bayviewherb

      This may the first time in the history of the Seahawks that our first string qb and 2nd string qb are so close in talent that if one goes down we can still win. Flynn is a very good qb as well.

      • Pixeldawg13

         Well, no–we’ve had several seasons where the #2 QB was basically equal to the #1.  Problem being that in those years, our “#1″ was very bad indeed.

        • Artthiel

           Pixel, sounds like you remember McGwire, Gelbaugh, Mirer, Stouffer, etc. Do yourself a favor and put the nightmare to bed.

          • Bayviewherb

            Tomoreow will be interesting.

      • Artthiel

         That’s a key point in why Carroll feels the risks have been minimized in starting a rookie.

    • Artthiel

       You’re a fine man, Tim.. Please tell your friends about SPNW!

  • http://profiles.google.com/dcrockett17 David Crockett

    What there is to like about Wilson: He doesn’t have any fatal flaws. He really can make every throw. He’s gonna make his mistakes, but I doubt he’ll repeat many. Defenses will have a difficult time creating “book” on him. (Pressure up the middle doesn’t count. That works on every QB.)

    What there is to worry about: The receiving corps is solid but not at all dynamic outside of Rice, especially with Golden Tate out. As run-heavy as Seattle wants to be I suspect we won’t be able to hide Wilson. He will have to make plays — throws into tight windows, looking off safeties, running judiciously to move the chains — starting week 1.  

    • RadioGuy

      I’m with you.  How can you not love a kid who’s so confident and poised at such a young age?  When the Seahawks drafted him, I thought he’d earn a roster spot based on what he’d done on and off the field at Wisconsin, but starting the first game as a rookie?  Didn’t see that coming, but PC means what he says about competing and Wilson was born to compete, lead and win.

      My guess is that if PC is willing to stick with Russ through any growing pains, he’ll develop into a solid NFL quarterback.  He’s already showing he can lead a decent pro football team as a 23-year-old rookie, and that’s pretty awesome in itself.  Having a run-oriented offense will help because it takes pressure off him.

      • Artthiel

         I think Sunday is going to be a hard one, but that’s OK. You start a rookie, you include his learning curve. Carroll would not do this if he didn’t understand the inevitable shortfalls. The key is making them as short as possible.

    • Artthiel

       Well said, David. One thing to add to the likes: He has a fine sense of knowing the difference between running because he should and running because he can. That’s one up on Michael Vick.

      One to add to the apprehensions: Despite the intensity of his practice time, Wilson is a long way from knowing his receivers’ open-field decision-making. Best example, Hasselbeck to D-Jack, Hasselbeck to Ingram. Function of time, not ability.

  • http://profiles.google.com/dcrockett17 David Crockett

    What there is to like about Wilson: He doesn’t have any fatal flaws. He really can make every throw. He’s gonna make his mistakes, but I doubt he’ll repeat many. Defenses will have a difficult time creating “book” on him. (Pressure up the middle doesn’t count. That works on every QB.)

    What there is to worry about: The receiving corps is solid but not at all dynamic outside of Rice, especially with Golden Tate out. As run-heavy as Seattle wants to be I suspect we won’t be able to hide Wilson. He will have to make plays — throws into tight windows, looking off safeties, running judiciously to move the chains — starting week 1.  

    • RadioGuy

      I’m with you.  How can you not love a kid who’s so confident and poised at such a young age?  When the Seahawks drafted him, I thought he’d earn a roster spot based on what he’d done on and off the field at Wisconsin, but starting the first game as a rookie?  Didn’t see that coming, but PC means what he says about competing and Wilson was born to compete, lead and win.

      My guess is that if PC is willing to stick with Russ through any growing pains, he’ll develop into a solid NFL quarterback.  He’s already showing he can lead a decent pro football team as a 23-year-old rookie, and that’s pretty awesome in itself.  Having a run-oriented offense will help because it takes pressure off him.

      • Artthiel

         I think Sunday is going to be a hard one, but that’s OK. You start a rookie, you include his learning curve. Carroll would not do this if he didn’t understand the inevitable shortfalls. The key is making them as short as possible.

    • Artthiel

       Well said, David. One thing to add to the likes: He has a fine sense of knowing the difference between running because he should and running because he can. That’s one up on Michael Vick.

      One to add to the apprehensions: Despite the intensity of his practice time, Wilson is a long way from knowing his receivers’ open-field decision-making. Best example, Hasselbeck to D-Jack, Hasselbeck to Ingram. Function of time, not ability.

  • Pingback: Seahawks.com Blog | Friday cyber surfing: Wilson’s rise is no surprise «

  • Soggyblogger

    There is a QB talent that is not really quantifiable with statistics. It is the mental part of the game. The recognition of defenses. The ability to react to blitzes and coverages not expected. The decision making. The vision thing. There are many skills involved in this area. Overlapping and in combination it’s impossible to completely name them all, but the career win-loss record is about as close as one can come to truly judging a QB’s grade in the mental part of the game. 

    There are necessary talents required to grade out high on this chart, but as T.S. Elliot said, “Genius is 10 inspiration and 90% perspiration.” which is true for football as well as poetry. Wilson spends more time in preparation then anyone on the team. Both Manning’s are credited with excellent work habits and it pays off on the field. Wilson will perform well because he will be prepared. Mistakes will occur, but I believe he will perform better than his opponents this Sunday. The Seahawks will win as a team, and Wilson will play an important part of that win because he has the talent and does the work.

    • RadioGuy

      I’m probably being redundant by now (what’s new?), but I’m of the mind that Wilson’s learning curve may be as off-the-charts as his leadership skills…whatever mistakes he makes during the first three games will be gone by the fourth because he may be the one player who’ll spend more time watching film than his coaches. 

      Maybe it’s a poor analogy, but while so many people were awed by Mike Tyson’s overwhelming physical power, he made all that strength work for him because he was a devoted student of boxing.  Wilson isn’t as dominant in an athletic sense, but he’s a dedicated student of football whose only goal is to keep getting better and better.  I think Vince Lombardi would’ve loved coaching this kid.

      Matt Flynn must be feeling like Wally Pipp right now, except at least Wally was an established starter before Lou Gehrig “filled in” for a day.

  • Soggyblogger

    There is a QB talent that is not really quantifiable with statistics. It is the mental part of the game. The recognition of defenses. The ability to react to blitzes and coverages not expected. The decision making. The vision thing. There are many skills involved in this area. Overlapping and in combination it’s impossible to completely name them all, but the career win-loss record is about as close as one can come to truly judging a QB’s grade in the mental part of the game. 

    There are necessary talents required to grade out high on this chart, but as T.S. Elliot said, “Genius is 10 inspiration and 90% perspiration.” which is true for football as well as poetry. Wilson spends more time in preparation then anyone on the team. Both Manning’s are credited with excellent work habits and it pays off on the field. Wilson will perform well because he will be prepared. Mistakes will occur, but I believe he will perform better than his opponents this Sunday. The Seahawks will win as a team, and Wilson will play an important part of that win because he has the talent and does the work.

    • RadioGuy

      I’m probably being redundant by now (what’s new?), but I’m of the mind that Wilson’s learning curve may be as off-the-charts as his leadership skills…whatever mistakes he makes during the first three games will be gone by the fourth because he may be the one player who’ll spend more time watching film than his coaches. 

      Maybe it’s a poor analogy, but while so many people were awed by Mike Tyson’s overwhelming physical power, he made all that strength work for him because he was a devoted student of boxing.  Wilson isn’t as dominant in an athletic sense, but he’s a dedicated student of football whose only goal is to keep getting better and better.  I think Vince Lombardi would’ve loved coaching this kid.

      Matt Flynn must be feeling like Wally Pipp right now, except at least Wally was an established starter before Lou Gehrig “filled in” for a day.

  • Pingback: Friday cyber surfing: Wilson’s rise is no surprise | Arizona Online News Feed

  • Bayviewherb

    I watched the last pf the UCLA Nebraska game. The announcers totally missed the ackward pratfall The UCLA  did on the first kneel down. He limped off the field with a leg injury that noboy noticed. It may be the first time a QB has been injured kneeling down after the conmpetition was all over. 

  • Bayviewherb

    I watched the last pf the UCLA Nebraska game. The announcers totally missed the ackward pratfall The UCLA  did on the first kneel down. He limped off the field with a leg injury that noboy noticed. It may be the first time a QB has been injured kneeling down after the conmpetition was all over. 

  • Bayviewherb

    Scusa me. I did mean both were competivitve and close to equal. And to think I used to wriote for a paper.

  • Bayviewherb

    Scusa me. I did mean both were competivitve and close to equal. And to think I used to wriote for a paper.