I've used this John Schneider quote several times before, but I always come back to it because the things that he said back in early 2012 in reference to what he looks for in a quarterback ring so true about Russell Wilson, after the fact. Mind you, Schneider said all this prior to drafting the 5'10 3/8" quarterback out of Wisconsin 75th overall.
Okay, before we get into all the specifics of the position, and everyone can argue about it what's more important, we can talk about feet, whether it be delivery quickness, anticipation, poise, game-management skills, the number one thing to me - is a guy that tilts the field.
You have to be able to see that live, you have to be able to see how he handles his teammates, if he's a guy that can have a certain charisma about him, and then you have to get into 'where's the ball end up?'
How does he manage the game? What's he like on third downs? How does he handle pressure? Is he staring at the pressure coming at him or does he keep his eyes down the field? Can he square his shoulders, can he back out? Can he move? You have to be able to move in this league.
I mean, Brock will tell you, we were in Oakland, I wasn't sure we were going to be able to bring the guy home. You have to be able to move and avoid shots and keep your eyes down the field. You know, like Ron Jaworski would say on MNF, "You gotta be able to STARE DOWN THE GUN BARRELLLLL."
Wilson checks a lot of Schneider's boxes and is actively working on those that he struggles with. What he does: he tilts the field. He has poise, game-management skills, he handles his teammates well, he commands the huddle, he has charisma. He can square his shoulders. He can move.
All that stuff is awesome, but for whatever reason, I always remember Schneider talking about staring down the gun barrel to make throws. Wilson made several of these throws in Seattle's comeback win last Sunday, and it almost felt like he made it a goal prior to the game to strong strong, stand fast in the pocket and deliver even if it meant he was going to get hit.
Examples? To the tape!
1. 1-10-TB 16 (1:45 2nd Q) (Shotgun) R.Wilson pass short middle to J.Kearse for 16 yards, TOUCHDOWN [G.McCoy].
This play was hugely important in terms of the momentum game. Seattle was trailing 21-0 despite some early success on offense in moving the ball. An untimely Wilson pick in the red-zone and a Jermaine Kearse fumble were somewhat redeemed in one fail swoop here.
Schematically, I love the play. It's a fake bubble screen to Doug Baldwin on the right, and the Bucs bite on this action. This is a Seahawk bread and butter play and Tampa has likely prepared for it all week.
Wilson fakes the throw to Baldwin and then hits Kearse on the slant. Pay close attention to how Kearse starts his route - he fakes a downfield block before releasing into his slant, and this helps sell the whole thing.
Lost in the shuffle as you watch the ball on live TV though was that Wilson got rocked right as he threw the football. Gerald McCoy was even fined for this hit. Nonetheless, Wilson stares down the gun barrel - i.e., he doesn't flinch in the face of pressure, fires and hits his target. This pass is on the money.
Special shoutout to Paul McQuistan's awful pass blocking as he comes in at LG for a series, replacing James Carpenter. I mean, Carpenter got worked a few times too, but this one takes the cake because he gets Wilson blown up.
Brock Huard broke it down with his Chalk Talk this week. Watch:
2. 1-10-TB 29 (5:20 3rd Q) R.Wilson pass deep left to D.Baldwin ran ob at TB 10 for 19 yards.
Now, this throw isn't really the definition of 'staring down the gun barrel' but more appropriately fits with Schneider's points earlier in his description:
How does he handle pressure? Is he staring at the pressure coming at him or does he keep his eyes down the field? Can he square his shoulders, can he back out? Can he move? You have to be able to move in this league.
Here, Lynch actually misses the blitz pickup as they execute a play-action fake (Lynch rarely misses blitz pickups), and Wilson is forced to immediately escape before even finishing his drop. He keeps his eyes downfield though, knows where his routes are supposed to be, squares his shoulders back up as he's running to his left, and delivers a strike.
This would be more amazing except for the fact that Wilson seems to do this all the time.
3. 1-10-SEA 25 (11:37 4th Q) (Shotgun) R.Wilson pass short left to D.Baldwin pushed ob at TB 47 for 28 yards (D.Revis) [A.Clayborn].
Fourth Quarter. The definition of Wilson sticking to the pocket, letting routes develop, and then firing in the face of pressure. Adrian Clayborn stunts underneath three of his own linemen to come in for pressure, and hits Wilson as he throws. This is extremely difficult to scheme against, it's just a savvy and well-executed pressure scheme that rushes with six and relies on a longer drop. Good luck to anyone in stopping that consistently.
Huge play. Pass is on the money. If memory serves, this was the play that Wilson got up and was favoring his left arm.
1-10-TB 48 (4:28 4th Q) R.Wilson pass deep right to Z.Miller to TB 26 for 22 yards (K.Tandy) [A.Clayborn].
This is not really a 'gun barrel' throw in a traditional sense, as Wilson rolls out to his right on a bootleg. Again, Clayborn stunts underneath from the far left side, comes across the formation, and hits Wilson as he throws. Wilson puts it on the money.
7. 3-5-TB 10 (1:56 4th Q) (Shotgun) R.Wilson pass short right to D.Baldwin for 10 yards, TOUCHDOWN.
I already talked about this play in the third down efficiency post, but it's worth showing again. Gerald McCoy embarrasses James Carpenter on this one, but at the very least, Wilson is able to keep his eyes downfield even in the face of two free rushers, cock, and throw it quickly to Doug Baldwin.
You often hear about quarterbacks 'dropping their eyes' in the face of pressure, and Wilson has been guilty of this at times, as he'll duck and run and try to escape. Here, none of that. He keeps his eyes on the prize.
Again, huge, huge play. Imagine when Wilson actually gets some time to throw.
Read more from Field Gulls:
Xs & Os: Breaking down schematics & strategy
The Numbers Game: Analysis of statistics & the salary cap
The Offseason: News & notes on the Seahawks' offseason
Miscellany: Commentary, criticism, pop culture & more
Field Gulls Podcasts: Hear from your writers