Percy Harvin is still new to the Russell Wilson Show. An injured hip kept him from the full experience last season, but now he’s working with RW3 every day, and his mouth is agape, and delightful possibilities are swirling in his mind.
Listen to Harvin rave about Wilson, and he’ll make you appreciate the young franchise quarterback all over again. If you ever take Wilson for granted, Harvin will make you remember the value of having a long-term solution at the toughest position to play in team sports.
For all the talk about how Harvin will make Wilson better this season, it works both ways. During his last few years in Minnesota, Harvin and Adrian Peterson carried an offense without a good quarterback. Harvin had plenty of individual success, but he’s happier to have a star quarterback easing the burden.
“He’s all that and more,” Harvin said when asked if Wilson is the quarterback he expected when he joined the Seahawks last year. “His leadership is just off the charts. I told him he reminds me of Brett Favre with how calm he is.”
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Of the many Wilson comparisons that have been made the past few years, Favre has never been mentioned. You’re more likely to hear Fran Tarkenton or Drew Brees.
“Me and Coach (Darrell) Bevell, we talk all the time,” said Harvin, who played with Favre in Minnesota when Bevell was the offensive coordinator. “In the huddle, in any situation, they’re both always relaxed. The confidence is similar. They’re both prepared. Preparation, it might be a little better with Russell.”
Wilson is less of a risk-taker and may never rival the production Favre enjoyed in his NFL career. Favre left the game with nearly every coveted quarterback record, including most career victories, most passing yards and most touchdown passes. But if Wilson has an aura that reminds Harvin of a future Hall of Famer, that’s ample praise.
Despite all he’s accomplished in his first two seasons, it’s a critical third year for Wilson. It’s not because of fear that he will regress from the Pro Bowl form we’ve seen. Wilson is as dependable as it gets. But he is eligible for a contract extension after this season, and it should be a megadeal rising above $20 million per season in annual salary. In terms of guaranteed money, consider that San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick received a record $61 million in guarantees. In comparison, Wilson has been more efficient and productive than Kaepernick, and he has a Super Bowl ring.
This season represents the final stamp of approval that Wilson is worthy of such a deal. It’s essentially a ceremonial process. He’s getting paid. He’s not going anywhere. And that gigantic contract will trigger a new challenge for the organization in managing the salary cap.
As much as Pete Carroll wants to be about balance and making life a little easier for the quarterback, there may come a time soon in which the Seahawks’ financial reality is that they must ask more of Wilson. In fact, they’re already in the process of ensuring that, if their running game ever falters or their defense isn’t top of the line, they’re capable of winning games with a potent passing attack.
You’ve seen the potential this preseason. Harvin is healthy and changing the game. Wide receivers Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse are even better, and rookie Paul Richardson adds more speed and versatility. The tight-end combination of Zach Miller and Luke Willson is solid. Throw in a top-notch running game led by Marshawn Lynch, and Wilson has more weapons this season.
Just as important, they’re the right weapons. The Seahawks are tailoring their offense to Wilson’s specifications, creating a unit capable of making the most of Wilson’s ability to create magic off the script. They still lack a prototypical big wide receiver, but they’ve been wise to pursue the best talent they can get instead of forcing the issue with size.
“I definitely believe that being explosive is what we want to do,” Wilson said.
In three exhibition games, Wilson has completed 30 of 39 passes (76.9 percent) for 360 yards. He has run for three touchdowns and thrown for two. In the first halves of the past two games, the Seahawks have scored on all nine of their possessions, seven of them touchdowns. That’s a ridiculous 55 points over four quarters going against the best that San Diego and Chicago had to offer on defense.
It’s an indicator of the offense’s raw ability, and Wilson has been diligent in working to capitalize on the talent. The game-manager label, which is used by some to cheapen Wilson’s value, won’t be uttered soon. Wilson is the only quarterback in NFL history to start his career with back-to-back seasons of 100 passer ratings, but he’s a better and more dangerous quarterback this season.
“Every time I step in the huddle, there’s no fear,” Wilson said at the start of training camp.
He was born self-assured, but he’s even more confident about his game now.
“It’s not that I can’t miss,” Wilson says. “It’s that I won’t miss.”
Harvin grins. His indoctrination into the camp of Wilson believers is already complete.
“He’s definitely dialed in right now,” Harvin said of his quarterback. “We’re tremendously focused. We’re loving the grind right now.”
Jerry Brewer: 206-464-2277 or firstname.lastname@example.org