Saturday I took a look at a single play which demonstrated one of the deficiencies I’ve noticed in the skill set of Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, and many fans reacted angrily. Perhaps they took it as a personal attack, or perhaps they took it as an attack on a player they put on a pedestal, but whatever the reason, many fans were simply not happy with the article. In contrast, some fans were extremely happy with it, even offering thanks for writing an article that was critical of Wilson.
The comments did a pretty good job of explaining out my point - there is no rush or no need to trade Russ or move on. However, there is a need to make a decision over the next two seasons whether to make a significant financial commitment to Wilson. In the spring of 2020 he’s slated to be a free agent heading into his age 32 season, and if at that point he is still relying on his legs as a weapon, then moving on is something that may make a lot of sense.
Now, however, to address some of the issues that were brought up in the comments. The biggest complaint many seemed to have was that Atlanta Falcons defensive end Takkarist McKinley was on Wilson before he had a chance to throw. Was McKinley on Wilson fast? Yes, it was roughly 1.75-1.80 seconds before McKinley forces Wilson off his spot. That’s certainly fast, but that is more than enough time for this play to be run. How can that possibly be? Because this is what the play looks like when executed properly.
This is the New England Patriots running the exact same play. From outside in the receivers on the left side for the Pats are Danny Amendola, Chris Hogan and Dwayne Allen, with Dion James in the backfield and Brandin Cooks lined up by himself on the right side. Amendola motions to the right and then cuts just underneath Hogan at the snap of the ball. The routes they run are then identical to the routes the Seattle receivers ran on the play I looked at Saturday.
Allen runs right out to the left flat mirroring what was seen from Doug Baldwin and Hogan drives forward and turns around as soon as he hits the end zone, just like Tyler Lockett. Amendola, meanwhile, runs right at the defender to the inside of Hogan mirroring the route Paul Richardson run. On the opposite side of the formation, Cooks runs five yards and turns around while White shoots through the guard/tackle gap on the right side of the formation before turning and running along the line of scrimmage, similarly to J.D. McKissic, simply from a different starting point.
Why is this relevant? Because from the time Brady gets the snap until the time the ball is out of his hand is 1.53-1.56 seconds, which is nearly a quarter second faster than McKinley forced Wilson off his spot on the ill-fated play against the Falcons in Week 11. Simply put, on this play, the quarterback has a very good idea of where the ball is going before the snap even takes place, and the instant the read is available on the defensive back in coverage on the middle receiver, the ball should come out. Brady does exactly as he should, and the result is a touchdown. Wilson doesn’t make the throw, and it goes the other direction for a Falcons touchdown.
The game speed in the NFL is insane. In the NFL quarterbacks don’t have time to think, they have to read and react on a near instinctive level. I simply don’t see that instinctive level reaction on quick hitters from Wilson that I see from other quarterbacks like Brady and Ryan.
Obviously, that doesn’t mean that he can’t develop it or that he will never be able to do that, but after six season as an NFL starter the time has come for Wilson to develop this portion of his game. There is no urgency for the team to move on right now, but it would not be unreasonable for them to select a quarterback they like, especially if one they feel has the potential to develop into a franchise quarterback falls to them.