Is Russell Wilson…”The One”?
Remember at the end of the first Matrix movie (The one before my brain melted trying to figure out what in the world was going on)? Towards the end, Neo is desperately trying to escape Agent Smith and remove himself from the Matrix. He winds up on the upper level of an apartment building, in a small hallway, faced with three Agents. Just before that scene, you see The lightbulb go on over Neo’s head. All of a sudden, he knew that the Agents were no match for him and that the Matrix was his play ground. That moment of realization he truly claimed his designation as “The One”. He was pretty cool before that what with learning all the martial arts, rescuing Morpheus, and dodging bullets, but at that particular moment, he reached another level of awesome. Today, on the NFL gridiron, we may be witnessing this same type of revelation play out in the form of a certain quarterback’s progression. Enter Russell Wilson.
What we already know…
Russell Wilson is entering is his fifth season in the NFL and is getting some high praise from HC Pete Carroll, via the official team website, following the completion of Seattle’s offseason program. According to Carroll, “He has made a clear step ahead. His command is all-time. His ability to move defenders with his eyes to set up some things—he’s consistently doing that, almost unconsciously, he’s so clued in. 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.” Now, tempering the “coach speak” and looking at it strictly from a football stand point, Wilson has made marked progression since his rookie year. His completions, attempts, yards, and yards/game, have all gone up every year since he entered the league in 2012, while his rushing numbers have been consistent with around 100 attempts and 500 yards on average (with the outlier being 2014 when he rushed 118 times for 849 yards). As a result of his progression and consistent play Wilson’s performances were good enough to land the Seahawks in the playoffs every year that has been at the helm. The end result has been two Super Bowl appearances and a championship on his resume. Not too shabby.
What we believe is on the horizon
For fantasy purposes, this continued consistency and development could very well continue to raise his value, and in a big way, especially given his receivers have been showing notable improvement. Despite being known as a “run first” team, the talent is there for the Seahawks to evolve into a powerful aerial attack. In fact, WR Tyler Lockett has become an offseason fantasy darling, after having been a consistent contributor the second half of his rookie season. It doesn’t hurt that coach Pete Carroll has already labeled him as “a starting wide receiver”, a title he couldn’t claim for much of last year. He is complimented by a duo of relatively young receivers in Doug Baldwin (27), coming off a career year and Jermaine Kearse (26), while both are coming off big seasons with the Seahawks. Additionally, one major X-factor could be last year’s addition of tight end Jimmy Graham. Unfortunately, the Seahawks couldn’t find an effective use for him most of the 2015, aside from assisting with blocking duties that were often neglected by the below average offensive line and not to mention his injury.
Ultimately, between the increased work load on the line and his season ending patella tendon injury in week 12 against the Steelers, Graham never got rolling as a consistent piece in Seattle’s offense. However, we know his ability, as seen on his game tape from his days in New Orleans. If he can find a way to return to some semblance of that form, he could immediately become a top three tight end, and assume the role of fulcrum for an already dynamic offense.
The running backs group is a hair jumbled right now, but it has all the pieces to figure into the equation as well. In fact, the times that Thomas Rawls was on the field, albeit as a backup to Marshawn Lynch last year, he made the job his own. Rawls showed big time flash racking up over 100 yards in four games, including a monster 209 yard rushing effort against the struggling 49ers and a 169-yard day against a stout Bengals defense. With that said, the real bonus addition, to the out of the backfield passing game, comes via the draft when the Seahawks selected C. J. Prosise with the 90th pick overall. Prosise comes into the league as a running back, but played slot receiver before making the transition his junior year at Notre Dame. He has great hands and is expected by many to assume the third down and up tempo running back role. CJPro has the speed, acceleration, and playmaking ability to bolster a new breed in the Seahawks backfield and possibly even to challenge Rawls for the starting job at some point during this season.
The Matrix Revisited?
So, we have to ask ourselves. With all of this new weaponry coupled with a quarterback constantly evolving his game, is Russell Wilson really going to be the NFL’s version of Neo? Time will tell. Keep in mind, Wilson had a pretty incredible season in 2015 and was still ranked third in standard scoring fantasy leagues, behind only Newton and Brady. One could make an argument that Tommy boy, as far as NFL quarterbacks go anyway, is getting a little long in the tooth. We all know that when players lose a step, due to old age, it’s glaringly obvious, a la last year’s hollow version of Peyton Manning. Expect Brady to begin taking a few incremental steps back. But fear not, as there is a wave of young talent looking to become the next generation of elite quarterbacks. As for Cam Newton, he seems to already be at that next level. Blake Bortles, Jameis Winston, Derek Carr, and even Marcus Mariota will all being looking to take the next step in their young careers.
At the end of the day, no one is just going to hand Russell Wilson the title of top quarterback. He’s going to have to earn it, but with the talent around him, he has a legitimate shot and 2016 could be the year we all remember as his ascension in becoming a stable and elite NFL quarterback. I know he’ll be gunning for it. We’ll see if the rest of the QBs in the league can those dodge bullets, Matrix style.
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