Article by Rasymandias
Russell Wilson has been the media darling of the young QBs who has benefited from a popular narrative emphasizing his unique combination of uninterrupted success as a passer and effectiveness in leading his team to one of the best records in the NFL. But in the past three weeks cracks have been exposed in the diminutive armor of the Lilliputian passer. In that span Wilson has produced a dreadfully mediocre completion percentage (53.66 percent), scant passing yardage (171 yards), and an Alex Smith like yards per passing attempt (6.53) that screams game manager. Even worse is his poor passer rating (73) and horrendous QBR (36.23). Seattle’s offense has suffered as a result, averaging a pedestrian 16.7 points per game despite getting considerable help from the 10 turnovers generated by their top tier defense.
So what happened?
The New Scheme
In order to answer this question one has to look at his two performances against Arizona this 2013 season in order to make sense how defenses are scheming our undersized friend. In week 7 the Seattle Seahawks beat the Arizona Cardinals in Glendale by a score of 34-22. In that game Russell Wilson was the offensive star with a 18/29 day gave him 235 yards and 3 TDs for a sterling 122.1 passer rating and a slightly above average QBR of 58.0. Fast forward to week 16 and the very same Arizona defense which couldn’t stop Wilson held him to what was arguably his worst game as a professional as he wound up with his second-lowest completion percentage (40.74 percent), his lowest passing yardage (108 yards), and his lowest yards per passing attempt (4.0) in his career.
What accounted for this difference? How did Arizona’s defense, which was brutally torched by Wilson and the Seahawks the first game, come back to hold the Half Man to his worse NFL performance ever? The answer lies in the change of scheme. Arizona used a variation of a Pop Warner type 6-1-4 defensive scheme that hasn’t been prevalent in the NFL since the 1950s. The 2 OLBs were playing edge contain and the middle 4 DLs were staying tight inside, obstructing Wilson’s vision to slant and crossing routes while also shutting down escape up the middle to a large extent. Arizona’s secondary just manhandled Seattle’s WRs. I think Wilson was unable to see the middle routes with all of those bodies coming up the middle. They soundly beat Seattle’s offense.
Why Not Attack the Middle of the Field?
Seahawks fans complained about the playcalling, blaming Bevell for not dialing up plays that would attack the wide open middle of the field a 6-1-4 scheme creates when its implemented. But the problem is that its becoming very clear that Russell Wilson doesn’t seem to be comfortable looking down there when he’s contained in the pocket and the D-line is baring down on him. This info graphic of Wilson’s pass accuracy proves the point:
Does anyone notice how the middle of the field is left unattacked by Wilson beyond 10-15 yards?
The Running Game Problem
Another under reported problem for Wilson is the diminishing run attack around him and how this affects the play action pass game which is the bread and butter of Bevell’s passing attack. According to ESPN.com Marshawn Lynch has been averaging fewer than 4.0 yards per rush for the fifth straight week. Lynch entered Week 16 with a 3.2 yards per rush average that ranked 44th among 49 qualified rushers, and his performance offered only slight improvement. As a result Wilson completed 2-of-10 for 36 yards and an interception on play-action passes.
Will Wilson and Seattle’s offense recover in time to save their season? Only time will tell. With Lynch looking as if he is wearing down, Percy Harvin still healing from the tear in his vagina, and no room for lateral movement to buy time to pass on the scramble Wilson needs to pick it up. Because for now, Mighty Mouse has seemed very stoppable. This is especially so in the NFC West, where teams like the 49ers, Cardinals, and Rams have stout front 7 defenders who can created and collapse a pocket against Wilson:
Hawk fans.. you mad?