Russell Wilson was disappointed when his rookie season ended with a playoff loss at Atlanta, and said he can't wait to get back to work.
The question was meant to get an “aw-shucks” reaction out of Russell Wilson. Problem is, he’s not wired that way.
So when a reporter asked Sunday afternoon whether Wilson would’ve taken all this success — an 11-5 season and a playoff win after earning the starting quarterback job a couple months after being drafted in the third round — and declined to tempt fate before the season began, Wilson shot back with a “no” almost instinctively.
“Nah, I wouldn’t have,” Wilson said. “My mindset is winning the Super Bowl.”
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Wilson would rather do it all over again and risk a more painful outcome because he’s focused on being the best. Where others saw a dream season, he saw the result of his hard work, preparation and underrated talent. He had an extraordinary rookie season, but if you guaranteed it at the start of training camp and told him to put his feet up, he would’ve said, “Just one playoff win? That’s settling. And I don’t settle.”
Excited much about your new franchise quarterback, Seattle?
From now until he decides he’s done, Wilson is here to captivate, inspire and — most important — lead. Despite the difficulty of the NFL, despite the understanding there are few assurances in this sport, despite the Seahawks’ limited history of sustained excellence, Wilson provides extreme confidence that it’s safe for this franchise to dream the biggest dreams.
He’s that special, and he’s a star that illuminates all the other special things the Seahawks are doing to become a championship-caliber team. The Seahawks have so much going for them, from general manager John Schneider’s deft talent-evaluation to a young core of stars to a coach who complements and directs them perfectly.
You keep looking for the trap door, for the way the Seahawks will end up as heartbroken as they were in their last-minute, season-ending loss to Atlanta on Sunday. But the more you look for fatal flaws, the more you come back to Wilson and the level of trust he demands.
“He’s a baller,” Carroll said. “A real football player.”
Wilson entered the NFL defined by his limitations. He came in as a short quarterback, and his size was scrutinized so much that his height was recited down to a fraction of an inch — 5 feet 10-5/8. It wasn’t sufficient to round up to 5 feet 11. It had to be known exactly how small he was.
One season later, here’s the great contradiction: The quarterback once defined by his limitations now makes you feel like the Seahawks have no limits.
Yes, you need to see more from Wilson to be sure. Yes, next season will be different because more will be asked of him. Yes, defenses will figure out some of his pet plays.
But Wilson will get better. No question, he will get better.
After he left the George Dome field Sunday, he walked into the tunnel and, despite the disappointment, he looked at quarterbacks coach Carl Smith and said, “I’m so excited. I can’t wait to get to the offseason and work and work and work.”
On Monday morning, he was already watching film of the Atlanta game.
“Like I said last night, there’s so much to look forward to,” Wilson said. “Now the preseason basically starts. It really starts now. That’s what I’ve been talking about with the guys in the locker room.”
Wilson won’t let the Seahawks become complacent. As charming as he was as a say-the-right-thing rookie, he should be even better now that he has started 18 games. Wilson doesn’t have to worry about winning a quarterback competition or the awkwardness of trying to coexist with backup Matt Flynn, who is more than talented enough to be a starter.
The Seahawks will probably trade Flynn if they receive the right offer. If Flynn stays in Seattle, there will be no more cries for him to replace Wilson. To his credit, Wilson handled the early-season quarterback “controversy” well. And after a difficult first month, he played well enough to end the debate about who deserved the job.
By the final game, he had even won over Flynn, who hugged Wilson after the Seahawks took a 28-27 lead over Atlanta on Sunday and consoled him after the Falcons rallied in the final 31 seconds.
It’s easy to believe in Wilson now. It’s even easier to trust what he’ll do with that belief.
“He’s just an amazing kid,” Carroll said.
And he’s just beginning to impress.
Jerry Brewer: 206-464-2277 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @JerryBrewer.