Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson is a quarterback that loves to run. He averaged 103 carries for 608 yards over his first four seasons, including an 849 yard, 6 rushing touchdown season in 2014.
“He can move when he wants to move when he needs to move,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said about Wilson. “I think that’s the big thing. I mean he’s not a guy that runs to run. He runs and makes plays so if you don’t contain him, if you don’t control him, if you let him extend the play then you’re basically looking for trouble. If you do then you’ve got to defend all of the other things. He’s certainly capable of making plays in the pocket and out of the pocket and you’ve got to defend it.
“And again, I think when he runs usually it hurts you because you don’t have it defended, whether that’s a scramble for a first-down or a keep off the running play or whatever it is. If you have it defended then he’ll not run. He just makes great decisions.”
2016 is different as Wilson has a mere 54 rushing yards over the first half of the season. Wilson has exceeded 54 rushing yards in 15 different single games in his career, so this is shockingly low production.
Wilson suffered a high ankle sprain in the season opener and an MCL sprain in week 3 and he’s finally getting healthy. The Seahawks offense is neutered when Wilson is unable to run because his mobility not only picks up yards on the grounds, it creates opportunities for scramble plays down the field.
“I think a lot of those guys that scramble do [throw deep],” Belichick said. “I think that’s one of the first things you’ve got to really emphasize with your secondary is when the quarterback is out of the pocket, first things first you’ve got to take care of the deep ball. Then you’ve got to take care of the intermediate, crossing, scramble type of routes and then if he runs at least you can come up and tackle him.
“But as soon as you come up and he puts it over your head either to the intermediate guy or to the deep guy then you’re going to give up a lot more yards. Is it a benefit? It probably is.”
Belichick noted the defense’s experience against Bills QB Tyrod Taylor twice this season, and against Panthers QB Cam Newton in the preseason will help with “the fundamentals of keeping a quarterback in the pocket, scramble rules, quarterback running, playing him like a running back when he has the ball, knowing that he can break tackles and avoid guys and isn’t just going to run and slide,” calling these strategies all “carryover coaching points.”
Wilson is as healthy as he’s been all season. The Patriots will have to be ready for his running ability and be prepared to stop the passes down the field. Don’t expect the Patriots pass rush to show up this week as the team favors the mush-rush to contain Wilson inside the pocket.