Ordinarily, the matchup of a Rex Ryan defense against a rookie quarterback would be a mismatch in the Jets’ favor. But Seattle rookie Russell Wilson is on an upward trend that figures to pose major problems for the Jets on Sunday.
Like Jets QB Mark Sanchez in his rookie year, Wilson has benefited from a run-first offense featuring Marshawn Lynch. But unlike Sanchez, Wilson possesses the skills of an option quarterback to move out of the pocket and run at times. Both have been successful with play-action fakes, but Sanchez relies more on skillful ballhandling.
“They throw the ball probably fewer times than any team in the league,” Ryan said of the Seahawks during his Wednesday media briefing, “yet when they throw it, they’re throwing it down the field. They take some vertical shots.”
Ryan noted that Wilson’s quarterback rating at home at CenturyLink Field, where Seattle is 4-0, is in the vicinity of 120, making it the best home quarterback rating in the NFL. Over the past five Seahawks games, Wilson has a 154 rating on third-down plays. That’s very impressive stuff.
Former Jets running back and kick returner Leon Washington said Wilson’s impact has been evident from the start. “The first day he came in, you just knew there was something different about this kid by the way he prepared,” Washington said. “I’m usually the first guy in the football facility. When I pull up at 6:10 in the morning, his car is already in its parking spot. I’m like, ‘Man, this guy is special.’
“You knew from Day 1 how special he is and the way he commands the huddle and the way he prepares himself, he’s definitely unlike a rookie. He prepares himself as well as any quarterback I’ve been around.”
Seattle coach Pete Carroll said he has tried to complement the running game with Wilson’s talents in the play-action passing game, but he loves Wilson’s arm strength, downfield accuracy and vision enough to consider opening up the attack before long. “We’ve kept it under wraps as much as we can to help him grow and keep him moving ahead positively in hopes that, in the second half of the season, we can really start to branch out and blossom,” Carroll said. “So, we’ll see how that goes, but he’s done a fantastic job for us, and we’re thrilled about it.”