Though this wasn’t Russell Wilson’s best game as a Seahawk, it may have been his most impressive in the way he maximized the Seattle offense despite not having one of his greatest weapons, his running threat, in his arsenal.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Russell Wilson has achieved a kind of perfection, in Pete Carroll’s eyes.
No, he’s not running every play flawlessly, though there wasn’t much to quibble with Sunday in the Seahawks’ 27-17 victory over the New York Jets. Wilson completed 72 percent of his passes (23 of 32) for 309 yards and three touchdowns, a clinical takedown of a tough defense. But no doubt both he and his coach, when they dive into the game film, will find more yards that were there to be had. There is no perfect performance.
Where Wilson has reached the pinnacle, to Carroll, is in his mindset, especially when injuries have him at less than optimal health. In the past, Carroll said that Wilson simply willed himself to get better. On Sunday, he used another esoteric term to describe the same phenomenon: Wilson’s “spirit,” Carroll said, is marvelous to watch.
“He’s only had one half where he didn’t have something wrong with him this season,” marveled Carroll. “I really don’t know how to say enough about his mentality. He has the perfect mentality to endure whatever he needs to endure. He does it on the strength of his belief in himself, commitment to his teammates, and just this marvelous will.”
Yes, I wrote last week that with a bye coming up, the Seahawks would be wise to sit Wilson for the Jets game, take their chances with backup quarterback Trevone Boykin, and let Wilson use the three-week respite to heal his ailing left knee and right ankle.
While my motivation was a sincere belief that the Seahawks would be better off, in the long run, getting Wilson back to full strength, I admit now that I underestimated his recuperative powers. Though this wasn’t Wilson’s best game as a Seahawk, it might have been his most impressive in the way he maximized the Seattle offense despite not having one of his greatest weapons, his running threat, in his arsenal, and despite the Seahawk running game getting mostly throttled by the Jets.
Wilson admitted that against every instinct, he slid a couple of times on read-option plays that normally would have had him scampering down the field. But he was spry when he needed to be in eluding the rush, and on the occasions he was hit, particularly one brutal lick he absorbed on a fourth-quarter sack, he bounced right back up.
“I’d like to be able to move,” he said. “You’ve got 350-pound guys who can run 4.4s coming at you, so I’d like to move a little faster. But I felt really good. I felt strong. I felt as quick as I could be out there. I told you earlier in the week, I felt great. I wasn’t playing mind games with you. I felt great out there.”
Provided that Wilson didn’t set back his recovery — and he insisted that won’t be the case — the Seahawks made the right call. When asked if he expected Wilson to be 100 percent after the bye, Carroll replied: “He was pretty close today, so I’d think he has a great chance. He’s going to be a lot better, anyway.
“He wasn’t 100 percent, but he was good enough to play, confident enough to play, and the doctors and trainers all signed off on it.”
Carroll alluded to Wilson’s “exquisite” throws, and indeed, his touch was impeccable. He floated a pass that fell into the arms of a wide-open Tanner McEvoy for a touchdown, fired back-shoulder strikes to tight end Jimmy Graham, and generally was on target to the nine different receivers to catch passes.
Of course, Wilson credited his receivers, his offensive line, the game plan of Darrell Bevell, his trainers, and just about everyone else in the organization. And he expounded on the mentality it takes to overcome “a little bump in the road, and a little adversity.”
Ultimately, he said, “It comes down to what you say to yourself, your self-talk, what you believe in, and how you can overcome situations.”
Wilson might want to distribute a tape of himself convincing himself he can do it, because it might revolutionize the motivational coaching world.
“I think you can overcome any situation,’’ he declared, “as long as you have the right mindset … just a little ding here and there, that’s not going to stop me from playing.”
Wilson joked that two weeks was an excessive wait for his next game. None of us should be surprised at any of this, of course, and I’m not. I suspected strongly all along that Wilson was going to tough it out. What stunned me was his ability to take what was a serious ankle injury, and a knee injury that required a brace, and not only still play like a quarterback in full possession of his powers, but come through it seemingly none the worse for wear.
“We’re just so lucky to have him on our team, and part of our program, and to be able to watch the things he’s capable of doing,” Carroll said. “Surprised isn’t the right word; just fortunate. He’s always believing he can get well and be well. It’s just kind of a thrill. We expect he can do just about anything that can be done.”
Count me fully convinced.
|Russell Wilson game log|
|Wilson has played better in each successive game this season, despite dealing with injuries.|
|Sept. 11 vs. Miami||Win, 12-10||27/43||258||1||1||77.5|
|Sept. 18 at Los Angeles||Loss, 9-3||22/35||254||0||0||84.7|
|Sept. 25 vs. San Francisco||Win, 37-18||15/23||243||1||0||114.9|
|Oct. 2 at N.Y. Jets||Win, 27-17||23/32||309||3||0||133.5|