Russell Wilson riddled the Chicago Bears with timely passes and option runs. (AP)
Over his last four games, Andrew Luck has completed 89 passes in 167 attempts for 1,192 yards, eight touchdowns and nine interceptions.
Over his last four games, Robert Griffin III has completed 69 passes in 102 attempts for 882 yards, nine touchdowns, and one interception.
Over his last four games, Russell Wilson has completed 72 passes in 107 attempts for 878 yards, nine touchdowns, and no interceptions.
Perhaps Richard Sherman, the Seattle Seahawks' perennially chirpy cornerback, was on to something when he recently stood up for his first-year quarterback in comparison with Luck and Griffin.
"They're going to hype who they're going to hype, and you're in the Seattle market, and it doesn't matter what you do," Sherman said of Wilson, after the third-round pick put together scoring drives of 80, 94, and 97 yards to beat the Chicago Bears last Sunday in overtime. "He's beat the Bears, the Packers, the Patriots. You show me another quarterback with his resume, and I'll show you a great quarterback. But he doesn't get the credit because they don't want to give him the credit. They don't want to make him a big name. They make the guys a big name who they want to make a big name.
"He's a great quarterback, and he's probably a little better than those guys."
The Bears were just as impressed as Sherman was. "He's a leader -- he's a born leader," Chicago receiver Brandon Marshall said after his team took a 23-17 loss. "I listened to the guy talk. I watch how he conducts himself, how he handles himself. That's a guy I can watch and learn from. Even as a rookie, a young guy, Russell Wilson is a guy that is going to be special. He is special already. He did a great job and he stayed in it, drove them down the field and got the job done."
The leadership aspect of Wilson's game is perhaps the most impressive and surprising. From his first rookie minicamp, it was clear that he had the acumen, mobility, and arm talent to make a name for himself in the NFL. However, talking to Wilson's teammates -- before the Wisconsin and N.C. State alum had even played a preseason game -- gave a quick and decisive sense that Wilson was aiming for a higher plane. Professional football is a game of status and stature, and Wilson was heavily debited in the draft because he didn't break 5-foot-11. Many NFL people believe that had Wilson been born with a 6-foot-2 ceiling, he would not have been the 75th overall selection and the sixth quarterback taken. He would have been a top-five pick.
Now, he'll just have to settle for playing like one.
As the Seahawks realized that Wilson can handle every aspect of the game, he's been able to display a full palette of skills mandatory to the art of elite quarterbacking. The current NFC Offensive Player of the Week has a higher passer rating than Matt Ryan, Matt Schaub, and Drew Brees, three noted veterans who fill out the NFL's current top 10 in that category behind Wilson, who ranks seventh. His 293-yard, two-touchdown passing day, punctuated as it was by 71 rushing yards on nine carries, is the highest-ranked game for any rookie quarterback in the 20-year history of Football Outsiders' opponent-adjusted metrics.
"It was just extraordinary, exquisite poise," Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said after his quarterback tore the Bears defense up through the air and on the ground. "It really is. For a young kid like him, it was just exquisite poise. There were so many plays in there where he had to do something special on the play — to move, to find the guy, to locate the receiver and to use the right throw and the right decision or to take off and run. He was so confident [and] gives himself the kind of chance to play at this level. We keep saying it. He's the recipient of a heck of an overtime win. We all know that with quarterbacks, that kind of stuff is really important as they grow. He didn't need it, honestly, but we all wanted to see it for him, I guess because he's not one for belief in himself at all."
Through the last month, Wilson and the Seahawks have been using the zone option to further befuddle defenses. It's not nearly as complex as the backfield option Value-Pack the Redskins are doing with Griffin, but it was just as effective as a series of Pistol formations would have been against the Bears. Time and time again, Chicago's defense crashed their linebackers down on running back Marshawn Lynch. Time and time again, Wilson read the fronts and either handed to Lynch, or bailed for extra yardage if the play-side defensive end also sold out to stop Lynch. Through these plays, Wilson showed an innate sense of the play as it happens.
"You get a feel for the game," he said on Sunday. "I have had a lot of experience playing football and obviously it started with a lot of games in college. Starting here as a rookie, I kind of get a feel for the game and just recognize what is going to work and what is not. Obviously our offensive line makes it work. It all starts with them. Their ability to move their feet, fill up on their blocks. There is a lot of working pieces that makes the play successful and we were doing that today."
Wilson hasn't been a glamour kid at all. He's practiced to a fault when speaking to reporters -- the running joke among the Seattle media is to guess which quotes we'll hear on any given day -- but he understands the importance of making everyone else on the team understand that they're part of it too. In the ultimate singular position, he has grasped the notion that football is the ultimate team sport.
He's also displayed leadership early on in unusual ways. Wilson's offensive teammates are now used to the comprehensive texts and emails they'll receive through the week regarding the tendencies of the upcoming opponent. That comes from a work ethic so ingrained, the coaches literally had to kick Wilson out of the facility during the bye week. All he wanted to do was to watch more tape and inhale more of the playbook.
"I do that on Mondays," he said of the scouting reports. "Let the team know in terms of what is going to be successful in terms of the passing game. It is more so towards the receivers and tight ends but just to let them know what the coverages are, what the personnel is, what are they trying to do with certain personnel. I don't usually talk about the [run game]. I meet with the offensive coordinator, [Darrell] Bevell, and [assistant head coach Tom] Cable on Mondays and Tuesdays and sit down with them and go over the run game. It's more in terms of the passing game and letting the receivers know."
The bad news for opposing defenses? Wilson's getting more and more sure of his place in the league every day. This Sunday, he faces off against the Arizona Cardinals and a defense that threw him for a loop in his first regular-season game with a series of complex blitzes and coverages he'd never seen before. Seattle's final four games of regular season also features rematches with the St. Louis Rams and San Francisco 49ers, NFC West foes Seattle couldn't beat the first time around.
The way this kid's playing, it could be a whole new ballgame.
"I am so much more composed. I know the offense that much more [and] the experience of playing in the National Football League. The game moves fast and you have to be able to slow down the game. It is definitely slowing down for me. I am getting to know my receivers better, my tight ends better, my offensive line better. I know the protections so well right now. Can check to whatever I want to, now I can do that early. Now I know how to put the defense in a bad situation, a situation they don't want to be in, and that helps. Continue to study film, continue to do what I am trying to do in terms of getting there early and leaving late.
"I have to continue to trust the process. It is a long, long journey and I can't wait for the next game ahead."
Neither can the Seahawks. For the first time in years, they have legitimate hopes based on a young quarterback with all it takes to succeed.
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