Russell Wilson Thread (2017-)

If you guys have time or interest, I’d be interested in hearing your comments about the pass protection in all the sacks Wilson took in 2017:

To what extent do you think this is Wilson’s fault?

Some things that I think are important:

1. Look at the number of pass rushers. It seems to me that the vast majority have four rushers, some three or five. Almost none are all-out blitzes. Do you guys have the same impression?

2. Show me a defense that can consistently generate good pressure/hits/sacks with four pass rushers, and I’ll show you a dominant defense. The Seahawks turned every opponent into a dominant defense!

3. Obviously this doesn’t include instances when Wilson avoided a sack despite bad protection. I wouldn’t be surprised if these plays equal the number of sacks, if not exceed it.

4. The number of plays where the OL provides really good to really good pass protection is important. Let’s say out of 30 pass plays per game, on average, 20 are good to very good, five are so-so, and the other five are awful. That might not be so bad. If you give a QB consistently good pass protection, I think he can deal with the few instances of bad pass protection. Having said that, my guess is if we were to show the instances of good to really good pass protection that number would be really small in comparison to instances of bad, really bad pass pro.

37 thoughts on “Russell Wilson Thread (2017-)

  1. This is collection of all the drops by Jimmy Graham in 2017. I’m putting that here because there’s an incredible scramble and throw (at the :50 mark) by Wilson.* The catch wasn’t easy, but I think Graham should have held on. It ruined a great play by Wilson.

    (*Note to Mitchell. My original sentences: “This is collection of all the drops by Jimmy Graham in 2017. Why am I putting that here? I’m putting that here because…” I kind of like this version better.

    Revision to avoid using a question: “The following is a cut-up of all Jimmy Graham’s dropped passes in 2017, which I wouldn’t normally include in this thread, but am because of one incredible play by Wilson at the :50 mark.”)

  2. …although I would also suggest you not use “the following…” or “the above…” They’re almost always unnecessary.

  3. I’m not sure it’s less work. The first and third sentence took me the longest to compose. I don’t really care for the flow of the those sentences.

    And, yes, Yankees acquired the rights to Wilson.

  4. Holy moly. Russwell Wilson is the best QB throwing while running to his left. It’s amazing, defies physics, better than Jim Harbaugh’s rolling to the right and throwing off his back foot.

  5. I forgot the Seahawks were down 10-23 in the 4th, with about 9 minutes left.

    This was a great performance, but the one against Chicago, in Chicago, is the one that really got my attention. I remember having the improbable sensation–“This guy is reminding me of Montana!”

  6. 2018-2019: Week 10 vs. the Rams

    After the Charger loss the week before, I dialed me expectations way down for this game. I even saw, accidently, a tweet that strongly suggested the Seahawks lost the game.

    What was the most disconcerting was the way Wilson played on the last drive, which could have won the game. The 4th down play was especially dispiriting, as my initial reaction was to put the blame on Wilson. It might have been a difficult throw, but he’s got to make that–is what I thought. It’s a sucky feeling when you have to admit your favorite player didn’t play well, especially in a clutch moment.

    Here’s a take that casts that play in a different light:

    I admit, I’m happy to find an explanation that lets Wilson off the hook, at least a little. Ultimately, I think he still has to make this play, and he might deserve blame on the previous plays.

  7. This throw was crazy, but he’s had some other similar ones–like a 4th down deep ball that went for a TD. Also, last week he had a deep pass on 3rd and long in OT, with the Seahawks backed up near their end zone. (Unfortunately, a holding penalty negated that play.)

  8. I thought the TD pass he threw at the end was the better throw. Running to his left, throwing across his body into a space the receiver could get to but the defender couldn’t. I think the receiver made it a tougher catch than it should have been, but Wilson knew where his guy could get it.

    But yeah, this was a very pretty throw. That high arc!

    1. The situation was big, though. They were only up by 3 and it was 2 and 12. The coverage was also good; it couldn’t be that much better.

      As for the arc, Wilson was channeling Jeff Blake.

  9. Some say that Wilson is the best deep ball passer, and while I think that may be the case this season, the one that makes me hesitate is how he has a tendency to underthrow his passes. Of all the great deep passers of all time, I feel like he underthrows the ball more than any of them. I’m especially thinking of situations where the WR is wide open and has to slow their stride. To me, the greatest deep passers hit the WR so they don’t have to break their stride much.

    By the way, my theory is that Wilson does this because he wants to make sure he completes the pass. In other words, it’s sort of a conservative mindset, almost as if he’s afraid to overthrow the pass in those situations. In a way, the decision is sound, and if this reduces overthrows, then I’d be for it. Still, I feel like other great deep passing QBs don’t underthrow their WRs as much.

  10. What’s impressive about this is not just the quality of the blocks (some of them aren’t great, though), and willingness to block, but the hustle involved. And some of these blocks were crucial to helping the run.

  11. Just a small anecdote, I heard from Gee Scott (20:30 minute mark), a Seattle radio sports personality. He said he recently had lunch with Brandon Mebane, a DT who played for Seattle and now plays for the Chargers. According to Scott, Mebane sad that Phillip Rivers is a “bad boy”–in practice and in games–when things are going right. But there’s nobody better in the game, when things are going wrong, than Russell Wilson. It sounds like Mebane means when the team or Russ is not playing well or facing a bad circumstance, no one is better at dealing with this than Russ. If so, I tend to agree with this. In terms of the mental party of handling adversity, I seems really great at this, and maybe one of the best I’ve seen.

  12. In the first clip, one of the things that stands out is the degree of difficulty of the passes during really pressure-packed situations. 2nd and 12 may not seem that critical, but in the 4th versus KC, 3:00 minutes left with only a 3 point lead, that was huge. The pass had to be perfect. (Also, the WRs are making some difficult catches as well.)

    1. Hahahahha. I wonder if the coaches knew he lost contact. It would be funny if they kept sending in plays and seeing Wilson execute something entirely different.

      Also, maybe Aaron Rodgers could take a lesson from this. If he doesn’t like the play the coach sends in, he could call his own play and tell the coach his helmet stopped working.

    2. I would guess the coaches knew it wasn’t working, but it would be funny if they didn’t and kept giving him plays. (Schottenheimer: “Russ what the heck?”)

      Also, maybe Aaron Rodgers could take a lesson from this. If he doesn’t like the play the coach sends in, he could call his own play and tell the coach his helmet stopped working.

      I get the sense he does this, even with the headsets working.

  13. The Seahawks beat the Vikings. Wilson didn’t have a really noteworthy game, but the Seahawks ran for 43 times for 200+ yards. I love what Russ said:

    Quarterback Russell Wilson said the number of runs was in part because of the way the Vikings decided to play defense.

    “ They kept playing two-high shell super deep,” Wilson said. “They didn’t want any shots thrown on them. So we just said, ‘OK, we’ll run it. We’ll do what we do really well.’ “

    This is such a great attitude for a QB to have–especially one who has the ability to be more than a game-manager. I love, love, love this. I could care less about if he didn’t have gaudy stats. I got the sense the Vikings were giving the Seahawks the run, and I wanted the latter to keeping pounding the ball. Do you think Rodgers would ever do this? I doubt it–and that’s a significant weakness in my opinion. (Brady would, especially now.)

  14. Most disrespected QB of all time

    Off the top of my head, I’d say Russell Wilson. Colin Cowherd went on a rant today about this because Pro Football Focus ranked Wilson as the 33rd best player of the decade. Here’s the list:

    1. Tom Brady
    2. Aaron Donald
    3. Drew Brees
    4. Richard Sherman
    5. Rob Gronkowski
    6. Aaron Rodgers
    7. Von Miller
    8. Julio Jones
    9. JJ Watt
    10. Luke Kuechly
    11. Joe Thomas
    12. Chris Harris
    13. Antonio Brown
    14. Evan Mathis
    15. Eric Weddle
    16. Calvin Johnson
    17. Khalil Mack
    18. Peyton Manning
    19. Jason Peters
    20. Earl Thomas
    21. Andrew Whitworth
    22. Harrison Smith
    23. Darrelle Revis
    24. Casey Hayward
    25. Marshal Yanda
    26. Devin McCourty
    27. Joe Staley
    28. Patrick Willis
    29. Marshawn Lynch
    30. DeAndre Hopkins
    31. Geno Atkins
    32. Matt Ryan
    33. Russell Wilson

    (I think Rodgers is too low, too–switch him with Sherm. I might put Rodgers over Brees, too. Chris Harris, Harrison Smith, Casey Hayward also seem a bit high. I’d choose Russ over them.)

    1. PFF isn’t about traditional “stats” and definite they don’t look at it like in the past, but PFF is all about production. We just talked about Seattle running the ball a lot and Wilson not always putting up stats or not having great production. This doesn’t surprise me at all.

    2. You’re saying you’re not surprised given the criteria PFF would use? But do you agree with the ranking? If they’re saying they believe Wilson is the #33 best player of the decade, based on their method, I would question their method.

    3. They seem to be equating “best” with productivity as measured via statistics. I don’t agree with that. Do you agree with that definition? And do you agree that Wilson is the 33rd best player of the decade? To me, I question the definition, the basis for evaluating and ranking the best players.

  15. You right maybe they shouldn’t use the word “best” in their description. But when I looked it up, it says “this list isn’t an evaluation of talent, but rather of production, efficiency and performance”. PFF is a sabermetric sight, so I assume it is based on production. I remember looking into PFF rankings on o-linemen, and the top rushing o-linemen played on the most productive rushing teams. But just because for example a Shanahan team runs the ball well, doesn’t mean they always have the best o-linemen. They could just be in good system. That’s what I mean when I say it’s based on production (and efficiency), not necessarily who’s the best.

  16. But just because for example a Shanahan team runs the ball well, doesn’t mean they always have the best o-linemen. They could just be in good system. That’s what I mean when I say it’s based on production (and efficiency), not necessarily who’s the best.

    Understood, but they describe their list as “the 101 best players from the entire decade of NFL play.” They seem to be equating most productive with best. That’s not unreasonable or surprising as I think most people think the same way. In any event, if you ranked players based on productivity, what else would this ranking mean other than a ranking of who is better or best? It seems odd to say Tom Brady is the most productive player of the decade, but he’s really not the best.

    I think if they ranked offenses and defenses, based on stats, that would be more appropriate–more appropriate than ranking individual players based on stats. As you say, the system could be a major reason for better productivity. Clearly, the quality of the supporting cast is going to affect productivity as well, as does the quality of the opponents. All of these factors can have a distort our understanding of how good a player actually is. To me, the only way one could reduce this distortion is by using the eye-test. Of course, the eye test has problems of its own as well, but it’s critical if you want to get to how good individual players are. Relying only on stats to determine the quality of a player is not a good approach in my view.

    1. So for more context, I’m pretty sure PFF’s process incorporates the “eye-test”. I think they watch each play and give the player a + or – grade per play with a scale added, for example one play could be a +2 if it’s a super play. That is super subjective, which some will argue. But from what I think anyway, if a QB throws a screen pass and it goes for 60 yards, or if a QB actually throws a 60 yard pass, PFF will “grade” those plays differently. In fact, I think a QB that throws a 60 yard screen pass could have a negative grade, if let’s say the pass wasn’t great, and it was tipped, and got to the RB anyway, and the RB made a great play to get 60.

    2. In fact, I think a QB that throws a 60 yard screen pass could have a negative grade, if let’s say the pass wasn’t great, and it was tipped, and got to the RB anyway, and the RB made a great play to get 60.

      OK, but then the list is no longer just about productivity. They’re analyzing the skills of the players. And they’re saying Wilson is the 33 on this list? That seems crazy to me.

      1. Yeah I’m not sure how much productivity counts over efficiency or vice-versa, but if Wilson is handing the ball off thirty times a game, for each of those plays, I’m guessing Wilson is not getting a grade. How can he get a great overall grade if good portions of the time, he’s not getting measured at all.

        I also wouldn’t say Wilson is super efficient either. He’s not putting up Brees’ completion numbers. He’s not always great on third down either, which I believe can have a heavier weight.

    3. How can he get a great overall grade if good portions of the time, he’s not getting measured at all.

      If they’re using the eye-test as well (i.e,. not just rely on quantifiable data), then this is something they should factor in. For example, a QB shouldn’t be penalize for this, or if their stats, in terms of volume, is lower.

      I also wouldn’t say Wilson is super efficient either.

      I didn’t look the stats up, but I believe Wilson’s efficiency numbers are strong.

      He’s not putting up Brees’ completion numbers. He’s not always great on third down either, which I believe can have a heavier weight.

      First, if the argument is that Brees is better than Wilson, that’s a very reasonable argument, and I have no problem with it. I have a hard time believing Wilson is 33rd, though. Second, are you saying Brees is better because he has a better completion and third down percentage? If so, I think that’s a problematic argument–precisely for reasons I mentioned earlier. Who had the better OL, pass-catchers, run game, and offensive coaching/system over the course of their career? Besides run game, I would say Brees had it better, in some cases much better, than Wilson. In terms of OL, I contend that, of the great QBs, Wilson had the worst OL over the course of his career. His pass-catchers would not be at the top of the class, relative to these other QBs. His head coach, in terms of offense, and his OCs have been not much more than competent. To conclude that a player is better than another just by the stats seems wrong to me.

      1. I probably wasn’t clear, but I wouldn’t have Wilson 33rd, but was merely pointing out based on how PFF ranks players they could.

        Whatever the case, this is how I sort of think PFF ranks players. So their best 10 evaluators (or whatever the number is), look at every player on every play. They will give them a score of plus, zero, or minus on each play. And that plus or minus will be on a scale so not all good or bad plays are equal. A good play could be a +1, whereas a great play could be a +2. That’s where the eye-test comes in. So in comparing Wilson to Brees lets say, if Seattle runs the ball 30 times, in all those plays Wilson will get a zero score, since he did nothing on that play. Whereas if Brees might only hand off the ball 15 times, he will have more chances to get pluses. That’s where production comes in and how Seattle’s style of offense affects Wilson’s overall grade. Then what I think happens is all the QBs are ranked against other QBs and all the o-linemen will be ranked against other o-linemen and so on. Then based on the differences between guys in their own position, PFF will rank everyone. So if Yanda has a 15% difference between him and the guy ranked five below him, but Wilson has a 5% difference, then Yanda would be ranked higher than Wilson when ranking all positions.

        I thought Wilson didn’t have a great third down conversion rate. Maybe I’m wrong, but that’s what I thought, which is why I thought his efficiency may not be has high as others. Because as I said, I think when a great play happens matters in the grading too, or at least that’s my take on PFF rankings.

        What you said about comparing Wilson and Brees is sort of the same point I made about PFF’s ranking of o-linemen. The production of the team overall or the teams overall success, will skew the rankings, even if they are using the eye-test to rank players per play. But maybe that’s why PFF has the caveat of ranking players based on production and efficiency over ranking guys just based on talent.

        If drafting players from the list you provided, Wilson would probably be in my top five. Yet that wouldn’t be a super fair way to rank guys either, since my top five guys could be QBs.

  17. I probably wasn’t clear, but I wouldn’t have Wilson 33rd, but was merely pointing out based on how PFF ranks players they could.

    OK, got it. To me, the more compelling explanation for Wilson’s ranking is that the ranking is based heavily on volume of the stats. I would guess Troy Aikman wouldn’t do so well in rankings if volume of the stats were critical.

    I thought Wilson didn’t have a great third down conversion rate. Maybe I’m wrong, but that’s what I thought, which is why I thought his efficiency may not be has high as others.

    The Seahawks 3rd down conversion rate, since Wilson has been there, may not be that high, but I can’t remember. But in terms of yards per pass, TDs per throw, etc., I think he’s kinda good. But again, I’m not sure. From what I understand, Wilson comes out looking good if you look at efficiency, but not as great if you focus on volume.

    If a handful of guy are rating every play for every player, and accounting for things like the nature of their system, teammates, opponents, coaching, etc., and Wilson still ends up 33rd, you would question their judgment, right?

    Now, I know you mentioned that each player would be evaluated in relation to other players in their position. Then, the degree to which they are better than other players in their position would largely determine play a big role in determining their overall ranking. Is that right?

    I’m not entirely clear on the way the degree to which they’re better from other players at their position. It also doesn’t sound like a great way to evaluate the players overall. By this thinking, this would suggest the gap between Bray and the rest of the QBs is quite large. But that doesn’t right–i.e., I don’t think the gap is that large between Brady, Rodgers, and Brees. By this logic, if Adam Vinateri was significantly better than other kickers, he could be in the top five.

    What you said about comparing Wilson and Brees is sort of the same point I made about PFF’s ranking of o-linemen.

    Yes, that’s what I said–except I’m also factoring in the quality of the supporting cast, quality of opponents, quality of coaching/play calling, etc.

    To me, if there are a handful of people evaluating every play for every player–all these things should be factored in. Andy Dalton had a really good year in 2015, but he had a very strong supporting cast. As the Bengals lost good players, Dalton looked like a very different player. Why do I think so highly of Wilson? A big reason is because of the OL he has had. There are times when he the pass-catchers were not very good. (2014 Super Bowl team might be one of the worst pass-catching units of any Super Bowl team.) There are some people that are really down on Rodgers, but, he, too, has not had great WRs. My estimation of Matt Ryan shot up, when his OL became more brittle, and I saw how he would hang in there and throw under duress. Another big factor for me is the QB’s performance in big moments, especially in the playoffs. Jimmy G missing Sanders for the deep throw, as well as missing one or two other 3rd down conversions in the 4th–those are huge negatives, especially if there are a bunch of these. Eli Manning’s 3rd and forever throw down the sidelines to Mario Manningham–unbelievable throw, at the most pressure-packed moment. Huge points for that, especially if a QB could do that regularly.

    If the PFF guys aren’t making similar sort of calibrations, I think that’s not good process. You have to factor these things in.

    By the way, did you read the write-up for Wilson?

    Somehow, Russell Wilson has never earned an MVP vote since he has been in the league, and yet few quarterbacks have achieved more with as many things working against them (at least on the offensive side of the ball). Only Patrick Mahomes has a higher big-time throw rate than Wilson over the past decade, and obviously, Mahomes has only had to do it for a little over two seasons. Wilson has an incredible ability to make big plays without having a high rate of errors to offset those, and he brings a threat with his legs that few other quarterbacks have. He has been one of the most valuable players in the game over any span of time and one of the best quarterbacks in football. (emphasis added)

    This makes their ranking even stranger to me.

    Also, did you think Chris Harris Jr should be ranked 12th best player of the decade? That’s the second CB, next to Sherm. I don’t watch him closely, and I don’t think I could competently evaluate him. But if he’s 12th best player, the second CB taken of the 2010s, I’m guessing he’s a HoF candidate. He was higher than Earl Thomas. I could be totally wrong, but I don’t see that.

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