Watching the Tape: Initial Thoughts on Wilson

Hello all,

In the spirit of getting back into the swing of things, I am going to watch tape of the Seattle Seahawks offense to get an idea on Russell Wilson and his general playstyle, strengths, weaknesses, pre-snap/post-snap adjustments, mobility, tendencies, etc. While I am doing this, I will document everything that I do in preparation for watching film on someone that way you guys can get an idea on how a coach at the level I was at approaches the tape. I have purchased the ‘international’ version of the All-22 film as a workaround to be able to watch the coaches film (Thanks NordVPN). This is important, because I need to be able to see the full picture of the play from start to finish. We need to be able to see everything from the safeties to the RB. Now that I have obtained this, I will go in depth into how this process works for a single player evaluation.

Since I am starting from scratch and do not know most about what has happened in the NFL, I am going to pull up the splits and stats from Russell’s previous season to see what his performance was like throughout the year. This is going to give a general picture of his performance on the field. I am looking for efficiency numbers as well as consistency in games played. I am going to take note of any stats that jump off the page and then figure out why the numbers reflect in a certain direction. If I have in-house advanced metrics (I currently don’t), then I would run his stats through the metrics to get my own statistical evaluation on the player that I am seeing. Everyone is going to be taken in consideration from his physical attributes to his production on the field.


His previous couple of seasons are the only seasons I care about. I will be heavily weighting his previous season over the one from a couple years ago because his most recent season will likely give me a better gauge on the type of player he is right now. One thing I immediately noticed is that he very rarely misses games. Games played in the regular season equal 16 every year with the exception of this last year. Interesting…

He also gets sacked more times per game than most quarterbacks at his level. He has an incredibly high TD to INT ratio which could mean that he takes really good care of the ball. He also is unique in that most of his seasons carry above a 100+ QB rating. Which is abnormal in a good way. But he missed a couple of games this year which is a little unlike him. Why is that? Thanks to a league where injuries of players are more transparent than others, we can look that up:

He only missed a month of action…

Whenever one of our guys has a fracture in their finger, this usually means that he was going to have to sit out for months after surgery and this was likely going to take him out for multiple weeks if not the rest of the season. Wilson ‘recovered’ in a month. This likely means that he played without fully rehabbing the finger which means we got someone one the team who is willing to play through injuries. Also didn’t miss a game with a MCL injury and played through some ankle pain. This guy wants to be on the field regardless of the conditions. Damn. A competitive player if I have heard of one.

Now its time to see where he stacks up compared to his peers. I have my initial data on him and I want to see where he is at compared to the 32 other starting QB’s:

  • 20th in Yards/Game – 222.4
  • 20th in Comp % – 64.8%
  • 11th in Passing TD – 25
  • 2nd in INT thrown – 6
  • 4th in INT % – 1.5%
  • 25th in Sack % – 7.6%
  • 5th in YPA – 7.8
  • 4th in TD% – 6.3
  • 5th in Passer Rating – 103.1
  • 30th in Pass Attempts/Game – 28.6
  • Rushed for 183 yards total

What this is tipping me off to is he is a guy who is safe with the football but capitalizes on his deep balls. He is either a mobile QB who takes risks in the pocket or he is the product of a bad OL. He makes good decisions with the ball and has good ball placement on deep throws. But he’s not a guy who is going to throw 40 times a game and is going to help you win that way. He is probably part of an offense where they expect to run the ball and his big completions come off of play-pass, movement, or play-action concepts. He needs a good defense to supplement his game for long-term seasonal success. I do not know at this point if any of this is true, so we need to check the film to see if there is any validity to my findings.

However, I do NOT want to watch all 14 games of the Russell Wilson led Seahawks to figure this out. I want to set aside which games to watch so I am not being redundant in my analysis. I need the following games: the one where everything went right, one where everything went wrong, and two vs tough defenses, and I am going to watch his post-injury film to see if his hand injury affected him late down the stretch.



I’m choosing to start with his game against Indianapolis. It’s the first week of the season, he completed 18 for 23 with 4 TD’s and a QB rating over 150. This is going to be the game I watch for him when he was performing well and all the cards laid out for him very well. This game is going to highlight his strengths and show me what his potentially capable of doing at his best for his new team.

I’m just going to watch the film without rewinding or stopping the first time around. This will give me a feel for the offense he is a part in when everything is going right. I watch other things myself to get a perspective on what his offense likes to do as I’m watching his performance.

I find that his coaches don’t like to check out of bad looks, they are mainly a call-it run-it type team that will very rarely adjust the play even if it is run into a bad look. Russell doesn’t seem to have autonomy in directing the offense, he is purely an operator with an arm it seems like.

They first few drives have started with a run from a double TE formation. I noticed a lot of formations that are 12 personnel (1 RB 2 TE = 12) and 11 (1 RB 1 TE = 11) personnel with Metcalf inside to create a big body in place of a TE. There’s some 11 and 10 when they go to their Trio and Duo formations to spread out the defense. This typically operates out of Gun like most teams do now. But for the most part, 12 and 11 are their base personnel groupings and their formations reflect that as well. They run the ball more than the average team but, they don’t have great play calling to get their team in good looks. They always seem to run to the 3 tech and/or the force player in rotation, meaning they are running towards looks with more numbers. The play calling is often disadvantageous to the numbers and leverage needed to run an efficient offense. This is going to bite them in the rear quarters later. Bad play-calling from the top down puts players in losing situations and that is on the coaching staff to get fixed.

Normally, I would be able to run quick reports on this team and all this information would come up in a spreadsheet. I don’t have DVSport, the video software used by most college and NFL teams, anymore though so this will have to do.

As I got done jotting these notes, #32, Carson just barreled through for a 33 yard run. I watch it from the end zone cam. They ran it vs an Over Plus alignment and they ran it INTO the strength of the front. That doesn’t usually happen. It turns out the motion of the TE coming across forced the 3 tech to become a nose meaning they had two noses on the play. There was a huge bubble left over from his shift, forcing the Mike to cover 2 gaps instead of 1. He had filled into stop it but Carson made a good read to push through the line and gain a lot of yards after the run. Man, #32 is thick for a back.

5’11” and 222? Stocky.

Then I see #41 (Collins) run back there and I think to myself as I’m watching him, he is better than Carson. You should give Collins more snaps because he does better with the blocking up front than Carson does. Collins cuts back against the grain which gives he blockers better leverage and then finds the hole off of that. Seahawks need to put this man in. He’s making life a lot easier for Wilson.

As I’m watching, I’m counting 7 runs on 7 plays. This team definitely wanted to set up the run to start the game. two plays later, Russell throws into Cover 0 against a 7 man pressure. There’s only 6 in protection. He throws it to Lockett who made a great adjustment on the ball to get the TD. Nice job.

As I’m watching, I’m troubled by his OL. His guys get beat on a lot of snaps. Russell has to move in the pocket a lot, I remember vaguely that Pete Carroll and John Schneider saved a lot of money on not paying for their guys up front back in 2017-2018. I wonder how much they are paying their guys now? This would not be evaluated if we were looking at a college roster but, since I am trying to find out whether my hypothesis holds true, I am going to look for it. I look on Over The Cap (Thanks Nick!), and I find that with the exception of Gabe Jackson and Brandon Shell, the Seahawks are paying 4 million and below for every other OL on their roster. It looks like their philosophy hasn’t changed, relying on the talent in their running game and the mobility of their QB to compensate for the lack of talent up front. If I’m playing against the Seahawks, I’m attacking that weakness for sure.

And throughout all of this game, I am noticing a trend… The Colts are running stunts in conjunction with blitzes, dogs attached and they are supplying those with their coverages on the back end. They are attacking the OL up front and trying to cloud the picture for Russell Wilson up front. If they rush out of their base front, Russell can look through the passing lanes to throw the football and will understand how the pocket will look. If they stunt, or have blitzes attached, Russell will have to move to find it due to his height and the pocket and rush lanes wont be so clear for him. I’m anticipating seeing this trend play out in all of the film we watch today.

If I’m in the Denver Broncos offensive film room, I am making sure we can identify stunts when they are happening and provide Russell with the appropriate checks necessary to run against them. Stunts create chaos but can leave gaps open if the other team isn’t disciplined on defense. We should have at least three go to runs that our team runs well and be able to run those against advantageous looks. These must be discussed and planned according to the scouting reports we receive from opponents and knowledge of our offense.

One thing I am noticing as well is he is a GREAT deep ball thrower. He is aided somewhat by Lockett’s ability to adjust to the football and the rest of the WR’s ability to get space after the initial play breaks down. He misses one look early that can get him a TD but he recognizes all the others. As soon as his guy gets open, he’s throwing it and he understands how to read both pre-snap and post-snap coverages. He places the ball only where his guy can catch it and I would not be surprised if his deep ball efficiency numbers rank among the highest in the league. His deep ball kind of reminds me of Ben’s, he throws to a spot and lets his guy catch up to go get it. As risky as it looks, Wilson does not throw a lot of interceptions. He calculates when it is time to throw it via his reads and makes good decisions on when to do so. This is going to be huge for us when he gets here because the Broncos have not had the ability to throw deep balls since Peyton was here. Bridgewater wasn’t going to be the guy to throw deep, he specializes in the short-immediate passing game. Bridgewater has to throw short to possess the ball and move it down field. Wilson can throw deep and still accomplish that objective in the offense. What a game changer… I would be happy if I was one of the Denver WR’s, somebody can finally help your YPC numbers and get you over 1,000.

His front recognition is probably where it needs to be, we just don’t have the opportunity to see it because he has no play calling freedom. His team is a ‘call-it run-it’ type, so it looks like they only entrust him with playing the game. Hope we will see it down the line.


This was a game their team ended up losing vs a really good defense. 11-16 with a little over 150 yards, reeling in 1 TD and 1 INT. He got hurt during this game, it will be interesting to see how it happened.

I go to the Seahawks first drive. I see #41 is in now. Good move. As expected, the running game looks a lot better now.

Russell throws a big play off the get go to Lockett coming under Metcalf. Big play, Russell throws it well and big play is competed again without the threat of the defense coming in to take it. A safe but deep completion yet again. This is kind of his trademark. Lockett breaks on the safety forcing separation to which Wilson saw and threw right away.

All of his big completions come off of runs. Russell takes advantage of the safeties coming down to rotate to the run side of the formation and as soon as Russell saw the rotation he throws it to get some yards. Good gameplan yields great results and Russell can execute that.

He hits one to Metcalf later in the game but only after he throws it to one of his wideouts and they end up tipping it in the air to a defender. Russell can place it better but, that one was on his guy to catch. The pass to Metcalf came after he broke away from his defender and was wide open after the play had broke. Wilson saw him late, threw the ball and completed it down field for 25 yards.

Later in the game, Wilson reads the rotation of the safety late vs a Fade and throws it to Lockett on target. DPI gets called and ball moves to the opponent’s side of the field. He completes it Metcalf for a TD to the rotation of the safety again and gets a TD off of a post. Great read for yet another great play. Things are looking good so far against a pretty good defense.

LA gets a couple of stops. Wilson has a passing TD called back for holding I believe and threw it away from rotation now but, was still mobile in the pocket to get the job done. Imagine if he just had a clean picture to work with, how many more yards he could throw for.

He gets his finger dislocated hitting Aaron Donald’s hand as he is coming up to swat it. They pop it back in for him really quick, they run the ball to punt it on 4th down. He ends up coming back in but LA is doing a great job covering his receivers which leads to a couple of sacks. He’s still mobile in the pocket and can find areas to throw within it, he just has to have guys open to capitalize on it but, LA in man-to-man coverage is doing a great job sticking to their bodies.

I found that he plays with safeties to find deep plays, which is pretty common at that level. He did a good job executing the game plan but had to come out early. All in all, tough day for his team but he performed well against a great defense.

I watch the rest of the games. Most of it was confirming things I already know about him and his performance doesn’t change after the injury too much. If he is throwing the ball a lot more per game, his team generally loses. At this point in his career, he still needs a good supporting cast to make a complementary offense and a defense that can get other teams off of the field. A good trade for Denver. They just need to make sure they surround him with good pieces if they want to get to where they are trying to go. Hope they find those for him or keep those guys on the roster.

I also want to state it is imperative to have a good OL the later in his career he gets. If you want to take advantage of his contract here and keep him, you must find a good OL for him to keep him off the ground. He does best when he has time to throw. He can find time to throw but, It would be beneficial for Denver to provide him with some good passing lanes so he can throw the intermediate game as well as his deep throws.

I originally thought that he was only getting his large completions downfield off of play-pass or play-action. But, it turns out, he is just as good in dropback as he is with run action. Which is encouraging to see.

Just my two cents.

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I am a former film coordinator for a FCS school. Currently serving in the Navy. I was glad to be around the game of football and had the chance to learn from a lot of great people. I wouldn't be where I am without the gracious support of my family, coaches, assistants, players, and friends. I also greatly appreciate you guys who take the time to read my stuff and show genuine appreciation. It means a ton! You guys are awesome! Twitter Handle: @FBDubs