The Seattle Seahawks quarterback hasn’t thrown as much as in the past, but his efficiency and mobility make him a challenge for the Minnesota Vikings.
The Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks will take part in a Monday night battle that will have major implications on the NFC Wild Card race. Such a thought may have been surprising several months ago considering where both teams were projected to land, but as the season has played out, the Seahawks have been one of the NFL’s biggest surprises.
The Seahawks entered the 2018 season with a consensus thought they were a team about to embark on a rebuilding phase. Earl Thomas was flinging double-birds across the locker room, the offensive line was in shambles and the once-mighty Legion of Boom that gave the franchise its first Super Bowl was nearing a complete turnover as the Seahawks limped out of the gate and sat at 4-5 just a couple of weeks ago.
However, the Seahawks have become one of the NFL’s hottest teams at the moment as their offense has started to click and their defense has done just enough to keep them in games. One of the biggest reasons for the Seahawks refusal to fade into oblivion has been their one constant in quarterback Russell Wilson.
In terms of pure yardage, Wilson’s season has left a lot to be desired. The former Wisconsin product has topped 300 yards once all season (and came two yards short against Denver in Week 1), but that hasn’t been indicative on his role in the offense.
Wilson has been insanely efficient this year tossing 29 touchdowns to just five interceptions. His 66.1 completion percentage would be his second-best next to his 68.1 percent clip in 2015. All of this has equated to what would also be a career-high QB rating of 115.5 despite having a lackluster wide receiver unit that has seen top target Doug Baldwin play at less than 100 percent.
"“I think he just has confidence in his ability to throw it,” Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said of Wilson in his Thursday presser. “That’s part of it. You have to have confidence down there that you are going to throw it away from the defender.”"
Wilson’s efficiency has been sparked by the revival of the Seahawks’ running game. After finishing 23rd in rushing with 1,629 yards last year, Seattle brought in Brian Schottenheimer to replace Darrell Bevell. What was originally seen as a “cocoon” move has paid dividends as Seattle has ridden the return of running back Chris Carson to become the top rushing team in the league with 1,786 yards.
"“They’ve committed to the run game,” Zimmer said of the difference between this year and last. “I think at some point in the season earlier in the year they were throwing a little bit more. Now they are more diligent with it and sticking with the run. They’ve gone for it on fourth down quite a few times. This [Chris] Carson is a good back. He may be the best, one of the best backs in the league, the way he runs.”"
That running game has made Wilson more dangerous as he can now pick and choose his spots when to take advantage of the defense. Wilson’s mobility has also made him a threat as the defense must pay attention to the designed plays out of the pocket to help Seattle’s weak offensive line.
"“He’s moving around a little bit,” Zimmer said. “He moves in the pocket and guys get open. They’ve had some guys where they had been pretty open, too.”"
All of this makes Wilson the straw that stirs the drink that has scored just over 32 points per game in their last five contests. With Wilson being almost unbeatable at home, it will be key for the Vikings to contain and get pressure on him in order to come out of CenturyLink Field with a victory.