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Seahawks-Cowboys and what to watch for: Russell Wilson running

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Minnesota Vikings v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

On Saturday the Seattle Seahawks will take on the Dallas Cowboys in one of the two NFC Wild Card games slated to take place this weekend, and don’t be surprised if quarterback Russell Wilson tucks the ball and runs more than he typically did this season.

It was nearly a year ago that the Seahawks cleaned house on their coaching staff, replacing Darrell Bevell, Tom Cable and Kris Richard, while also jettisoning Heath Farwell and Travis Jones, and putting Carl Smith out to pasture. The team then went about systematically gutting the roster, with longtime fan favorites such as Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett and DeShawn Shead being shown the door, while others like Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril stepped away from the playing field due to injuries. In short, it was a complete overhaul of the team and staff.

And that led to the season that Russell Wilson had, where he set career highs in touchdown passes while tying his career low in interceptions. However, where Wilson’s game saw a big drop in the numbers was on the ground. Wilson had the fewest rushing attempts of his career in 2018, as he took to Brian Schottenheimer’s quarterback coaching and did more damage from the pocket with his arm and less with his legs. Here’s a look at how Wilson’s 2018 stacked up with the other seasons of his career in terms of rushing attempts.

Russell Wilson rushing attempts by season compared to team rushing attempts

Season Russell Wilson rushing attempts Russell Wilson rushing attempts (excluding kneel downs) Team rushing attempts
Season Russell Wilson rushing attempts Russell Wilson rushing attempts (excluding kneel downs) Team rushing attempts
2012 94 87 536
2013 96 82 509
2014 118 99 525
2015 103 89 500
2016 72 60 403
2017 95 83 409
2018 67 51 534

It’s easy to see how Wilson’s rushing attempts dropped drastically this year compared to the prior six season, even coming in lower than his injury plagued 2016 season. However, what doesn’t jump right out from those numbers is when Wilson would take off running, and whether there was any sort of pattern to it. So, for that, let’s look at his rushing attempts by game.

Russell Wilson rushing attempts by game

Opponent Outcome Attempts Yards Yard Per Carry
Opponent Outcome Attempts Yards Yard Per Carry
Los Angeles Rams L 31-36 9 92 10.2
Kansas City Chiefs W 38-31 8 57 7.1
Minnnesota Vikings W 21-7 7 61 8.7
Oakland Raiders W 27-3 6 20 3.3
San Francisco 49ers L 23-26 5 15 3.0
Green Bay Packers W 27-24 5 17 3.4
Los Angeles Chargers L 17-25 5 41 8.2
San Francisco 49ers W 43-16 4 14 3.5
Arizona Cardinals W 20-17 4 21 5.3
Carolina Panthers W 30-27 3 4 1.3
Chicago Bears L 17-24 3 17 5.7
Denver Broncos L 24-27 2 5 2.5
Arizona Cardinals W 27-24 2 -2 -1.0
Detroit Lions W 28-14 2 15 7.5
Dallas Cowboys W 24-13 2 -1 -0.5
Los Angeles Rams L 31-33 0 0 0.0

Now, that table includes Wilson’s 16 2018 kneel downs, so let’s strip those out and look at the numbers without those kneels included.

Russell Wilson 2018 rushing game log with kneel downs removed

Opponent Outcome Attempts Yards Yard Per Carry
Opponent Outcome Attempts Yards Yard Per Carry
Los Angeles Rams L 31-36 9 92 10.2
Minnnesota Vikings W 21-7 5 63 12.6
San Francisco 49ers L 23-26 5 15 3.0
Los Angeles Chargers L 17-25 5 41 8.2
Kansas City Chiefs W 38-31 4 61 15.3
Oakland Raiders W 27-3 4 18 4.5
Arizona Cardinals W 20-17 4 21 5.3
San Francisco 49ers W 43-16 3 15 5.0
Chicago Bears L 17-24 3 17 5.7
Green Bay Packers W 27-24 2 20 10.0
Denver Broncos L 24-27 2 5 2.5
Detroit Lions W 28-14 2 15 7.5
Carolina Panthers W 30-27 1 7 7.0
Arizona Cardinals W 27-24 1 1 1.0
Dallas Cowboys W 24-13 1 0 0.0
Los Angeles Rams L 31-33 0 0 0

And those numbers make it pretty evident that Wilson takes off running when the team needs it. When they don’t need him to make plays with his legs, such as against the Carolina Panthers and Green Bay Packers, they don’t ask him to run with the ball. When they need it - against the Los Angeles Rams, Kansas City Chiefs and Minnesota Vikings, Wilson seemed more than happy to do damage on the ground.

Thus, with the Seahawks looking for their first road win of the season against a team with a winning record against the Cowboys on Saturday, and with the season over if they are unable to come up with that victory, don’t be surprised if we see Russ score his first rushing touchdown of the 2018 season.