In his first four years in the NFL, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson played in two Super Bowls (winning one), made three Pro Bowls, earned a massive new contract and became a crossover celebrity, in part because of his marriage to pop star Ciara.
But 2016 could be the year the Seahawks offense finally truly belongs to Wilson.
With running back Marshawn Lynch retired, Wilson is poised for his biggest offensive season yet as a passer after finishing 2015 on a very high note statistically.
“This is year five. It has taken all of this time to get to this point, and he’ll still improve, but you can really see him as a real true vet now,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said at the conclusion of the minicamp in June. “I think coming off of last year, with the great success of the second half of the season, he has taken it right in the offseason, and here we go. It’s been our best offseason, and I think it’s an indication of the development of our guys.”
Indeed, the latter weeks of 2015 revealed a new Wilson. He was accurate and aggressive, and over the final two months of the season the Seahawks owned one of the NFL’s most dynamic passing games. Wilson threw for multiple touchdowns in each of his team’s final seven regular-season contests (during which the Seahawks went 6-1), including two five-touchdown games. Twenty-four of his career-high 34 TDs came over those final seven weeks.
In hindsight, Carroll points to several factors that made it all possible. Improved offensive line play late in the year was one of them, but most of it was because of Wilson, who mastered the timing of the offense, particularly in his connection with slot receiver Doug Baldwin, who tied for the league lead with 14 TD catches and had his first 1,000-yard receiving season.
“We really emphasized quickness in getting the ball out. We called a lot more calls that dictated the rhythm and the timing, as opposed to kind of mixing things. So we just emphasized it, and he was ready and willing,” Carroll says.
Now the Seahawks will need to see if that can carry over to 2016, as Seattle will be dealing with significant offensive changes. Lynch is virtually irreplaceable and a reshuffled offensive line will feature several new starters.
That uncertainty could put even more pressure on the established part of the offense, and that’s Wilson, Baldwin and fellow receivers Jermaine Kearse and Tyler Lockett. Carroll seems to believe Wilson is ready for that responsibility.
“It takes four, five, six years — you don’t know — for these guys to develop. He has made a clear step ahead. His command is all time,” Carroll says. “We saw him throw the ball all over the field throughout the offseason, and he’s been strong and accurate and really precise about stuff. He has had a great offseason.”
SOURCE: Lindsay H. Jones
USA TODAY Sports