Monday, October 27, 2014

Russell Wilson wins battle of mediocrity

Like the previous two meetings between the Seattle Seahawks and the Carolina Panthers, the third was hardly a “charm”—a boring and listless performance by both teams. Of course, partisans and commentators will say the game was a “defensive” battle to explain the offensive ineptitude of the Seahawks until their final drive of the game, which could just as well be explained by the typical defensive breakdown of a team that had given up 75 points the previous two games and didn’t have the leadership to “finish” the game. 

Cam Newton, as big an athletic as he is, just does not seem like an NFL quarterback anymore. Sure, he has the “presence,” but this is only because of his physical size. He doesn’t seem to be a “natural” quarterback, just someone acting like one. He still looks like a college quarterback who likes to make “plays” himself, and passing is something he is occasionally forced to do. Newton as a passer is more of an “aimer” rather than someone with “touch,” and he sorely disappoints when it comes to making plays with his arm when accuracy and time is of the essence, as this game came down to.

Russell Wilson, on the other hand, has the instincts of a quarterback, but not necessarily all of the physical tools. One gets the impression that the reason why he seems to be able to evade tacklers is because he is such a small target and not easy to get a hand on. But as a passer, I still see someone who cannot see over the line, cannot step into a pass, and has to scramble either well behind or well to the side of linemen to be able to “see” open receivers. 

Nevertheless, people are going to see what they want to see in this 13-9 Seattle win, in which the Carolina defense simply could not sustain 60 minutes of limiting Seattle to puny drives the entire game. With victory in hand and Wilson once more largely ineffective for most of the game, the Panthers’ defenders lost focus and could not “read” what Seattle was doing. I suspect that the Carolina players were so flummoxed by the myth of Wilson that they allowed themselves to lose track of what was happening around them. 

Now, because of a game-winning drive in an otherwise embarrassing performance, fans and observers are going to heap undue praise on Wilson, forgetting that the game was one of offensive ineptitude and that all it took was for one team to finally get “hot” for just one drive. It was the timing of that one drive that maintains the Wilson myth.

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