Russell Wilson thriving under pressure, despite O-line issues
After their Week 5 loss at Cincinnati, many are writing off the Seattle Seahawks. While they are 2-3, their record is not the end of the world, and their situation would be far worse without the play of quarterback Russell Wilson.
Wilson has vastly upped his game, but is being overshadowed by issues such as offensive line play, Jimmy Graham news, and cornerback health. Through five weeks, Wilson owns the seventh-best overall QB grade, which is quite respectable given that the six QBs ahead of him have a combined 24-2 record (four are undefeated). Let’s look at some signature stats in the Wilson-era.
|Year||Completion rate||% yards in air (before catch)||Offensive line’s pass blocking efficiency||Pressure rate||Accuracy rate under pressure||Plays under pressure (PFF grade)|
Starting simple, we see an increase in completion rate. His yards per attempt during his career has been consistent at around 7.9, but with the turnover they’ve had in the receiving core, Wilson has increased his efficiency while still dealing with chemistry and timing issues. It also helps when the receivers’ drop rate goes down from 6.0 to 2.0 percent.
On the surface, the percentage of yards in air (%YIA) might seem unchanged, but the spike from last year to this year is noticeable. Extrapolating this year’s deep passing attempts reveals no drastic change, so it’s the increase in intermediate targets that would explain things.
And now to the elephant in the room: the Seattle offensive line. A lot has been made of this, and it’s reflected in the drop in pass block efficiency rating and the correlated increase in pressure rate. What isn’t being talked about is how Wilson is simultaneously handling the pressure and still producing results.
His 77.3 accuracy rate while under pressure is only behind Philip Rivers and Eli Manning, both of whom are top-four in shortest average time to throw (2.18 and 2.27 seconds). Wilson, on the other hand, holds on to the ball the second-longest (3.01 sec), which makes his 77.3 rate even more absurd. In only one-third of a season, he’s already surpassed his 2012 season in terms of passing under pressure grading.
Finally, from 2012-2014, on passes not using play-action, he had an average of 7.4 yards per attempt—this year, that has jumped to 8.8. Both that and his 73.8 percent completion rate on non-play-action passes lead the league.
Not only is he getting the job done passing, he’s still also a threat on the ground. Wilson has averaged 51 runs (QB scrambles, not zone read plays) in the past three years ,and is on pace for more than 60 this year (he and Aaron Rodgers are tied for the most this year at 21).
No QB is infallible, and Wilson has certainly made his share of mistakes. That being said, the Seahawks are lucky to only be 2-3, and even luckier they have a top-tier franchise QB under contract for the next few years.