Over the next two weeks I am going to break down what I thought were Russell Wilson’s very best deep passes from 2018. I didn’t create any sort of objective criteria. Only watched every pass and assessed it for accuracy and quickness of read, importance to the outcome of the game and season, difficulty of location and coverage, and execution of placement. Other factors I included were bad snaps, bad blocking, good scrambling by Wilson, and poise facing imminent pressure.
This week I look at some truly impressive plays that for various reasons were not quite the best of the best.
The Good but Incomplete
1ST & 10 AT CHI 46 (00:24)
(:24) (Shotgun) R.Wilson pass incomplete deep right to T.Lockett (E.Jackson).
The Seattle Seahawks are down 10 with 24 seconds left in the half. Chicago sets up in a formation comprised of one down lineman and only two players within ten yards of the line of scrimmage and between the tackles. Fangio’s scheming for pure and perplexing pass rush, peeps.
At first the blocking looks immaculate. Germain Ifedi straight up Johnny Cakes Khalil Mack.
But just behind Ethan Pocic lurks defensive back Sherrick McMannis (#27).
Wilson scrambles right.
Meanwhile Tyler Lockett has worked an out-and-up route to perfection.
If you look closely, you can actually see Kyle Fuller’s foot detach from his body.
Eddie Jackson breaks from the left hash to fly over and plug the leak. Infinite respect, as his range and balls skill here are exceptional.
The window is legit tiny.
It would surely take an extraordinary combination of power, focus and hands, but Lockett has a chance.
Sometimes greatness bests greatness.
Wildcard: Seahawks at Cowboys
3RD & 7 AT DAL 24(01:52)
(1:52) (Shotgun) R.Wilson pass incomplete deep right to D.Baldwin.
The pass rush is ferocious and Wilson doesn’t waste a second getting the ball out.
He has made a flawless read. Doug Baldwin has the slightest of steps on Chidobe Awuzie. God bless those mellifluous African names, huh? Deep safety Xavier Woods missteps to his right, eliminating any chance of double coverage.
Despite the step, Baldwin fails to create additional separation. The window’s gonna be tiny and contested.
The pass hangs a bit, as Wilson’s passes often do, and Baldwin initiates hand-fighting to maintain separation. That—in the gray area pass interference rules forever occupy—justifies Awuzie grabbing Baldwin’s arm and arresting his progress.
Wilson’s pass is nevertheless placed perfectly for Baldwin to make a play on the ball.
The Great but Irrelevant
Seahawks at Raiders in Wembley
1ST & 10 AT SEA 41(00:39)
(:39) (Shotgun) R.Wilson pass deep left to D.Moore pushed ob at OAK 31 for 28 yards (D.Worley).
Seahawks were already running a 90%+ win probability when Wilson found David Moore, but this was too pretty and too expertly executed to leave out.
Once again Wilson’s quick to read and on-time. I love his read here too, because what he sees is pretty subtle.
Moore, the top receiver, has beaten Daryl Worley off the snap. In the above picture you can see Worley’s weight badly over his feet as he desperately attempts to catch up. At the same time, the safety, Reggie Nelson, is still in his backpedal. If Wilson throws quickly there’s little chance Nelson will be able to reach Moore.
Nelson compounds his error by first taking an angle which is too flat before compensating with an angle which is too vertical. It may look like the pass is underthrown, but this is an intentional back shoulder throw.
Which Moore high-points like a champ.
Seahawks at Raiders in Wembley
3RD & 5 AT OAK 19(14:17)
(14:17) (Shotgun) R.Wilson to OAK 25 for -6 yards. FUMBLES, and recovers at OAK 27. R.Wilson pass deep middle to D.Moore for 19 yards, TOUCHDOWN. Wilson bobbled the low shotgun snap
Possibly the play of the year—badly depreciated by Oakland rather obviously tanking their season.
I guess you could call that a snap. Something to consider: Advanced metrics debit Wilson for ably recovering a dog crap snap.
Wilson not only recovers quickly enough to read coverage, he actually fits in a little pump fake. It works.
The deep safety bites hard right leaving Moore with no one left to beat. Wilson climbs the pocket to find a passing lane.
And finds Moore running free toward a mess of pissed Brits.
Daryl Worley: Beholding heaven and feeling hell.
Wiped out by Penalty
Seahawks at 49ers
3RD & 4 AT SEA 20(08:33)
(8:33) (Shotgun) R.Wilson pass deep right to J.McKissic to SF 48 for 32 yards (E.Lee). PENALTY on SEA-E.Pocic, Offensive Holding, 10 yards, enforced at SEA 20 - No Play.
J.D. McKissic (#21) motions wide prior to the snap.
Niners rush five and pressure arrives almost immediately.
Indeed McKissic hasn’t yet beaten his man. This is a high-level read by Wilson, prescient even.
And paired with a spot-on throw.
Which comes to nothing as Ethan Pocic is flagged for holding.
Okay, I don’t know exactly how many passes will populate the best of the best list, but my computer is straight up breaking in this heat, and so for now thanks for reading and best to you and yours.