One of the intrigues heading into Monday night’s reunion of the Seahawks and Russell Wilson was how the familiarity each had with the other might impact the game.
As coach Pete Carroll and a few players revealed, one way the Seahawks’ knowledge of Wilson influenced the game plan was in trying to make him go left instead of right whenever he was in positions to throw on the run. Carroll said the stats showed Wilson has a lower percentage going left.
If that’s an obvious strategy most Wilson opponents surely try — few QBs throw better running to their offhand — one piece of knowledge that the Seahawks used against him was one that maybe only they knew — the hand signals he uses to tell receivers what routes to run before the snap.
That was revealed Friday when Seahawks.com released a video featuring receiver Tyler Lockett mic’d up during the game.
At one point in the video, Lockett notices that Wilson is using the same hand signals to alert receivers to change their routes as he did in Seattle.
Lockett is shown telling rookie cornerback Tariq Woolen that “if you see this,’’ — a tapping of Wilson’s right hand on his left wrist — it’s a go route (which is a pattern when a receiver runs straight upfield).
Lockett is shown screaming “he’s running a go! He’s running a go!’’ and telling teammates “they got our same stuff. I literally called it.’’
Afterward, Lockett is shown telling Denver receivers Courtland Sutton and KJ Hamler “change them signals.’’
So, did that knowledge play a big role in the win?
The statistics are somewhat inconclusive.
According to Pro Football Focus, Wilson was 2 of 7 on passes 20 yards or further downfield — go routes typically result in deeper passes — for 94 yards. That includes a 67-yard TD pass to Jerry Jeudy who was lined up in the slot and began to go inside and cut outside.
The seven deep balls Wilson threw was 16.6% of his 42 passes, a deep-pass percentage on par with last year with the Seahawks, when 18.8% of his passes were 20 yards or more downfield, according to PFF, indicating he didn’t really try fewer deep shots. Wilson completed 38.7% of those throws a year ago, according to PFF.
But in a game that was decided when a 64-yard field goal missed by just a few feet, every little thing helps.