After falling short against the Cowboys during the 2018 NFC Wild Card game, quarterback Russell Wilson was determined to lead his team deeper into the playoffs in 2019.
While Seattle couldn’t surge past Green Bay in the Divisional Round of the playoffs, Wilson was still able to generate an MVP-caliber performance while also earning his third consecutive trip to the Pro Bowl and a Second-Team All-Pro selection last season.
Let’s revisit some of the good and the bad from Wilson’s eighth season, along with a prediction of how next season may play out for him as he enters his age-32 season with the Seahawks.
What Went Right
Aging like fine wine, Wilson lead an 11-win Seahawks squad to a second consecutive playoff berth and continued improving his game.
Starting in all 16 regular season games, the eight-year pro produced the third-most touchdowns (31), the fourth-highest passer rating (106.3), the sixth-most passing yards (4,110), and the seventh-highest completion percentage (66.1 percent) among all quarterbacks who played in at least 12 games in 2019, according to Pro-Football-Reference.com.
Even though Seattle trailed late in the fourth quarter multiple times last season, they were never counted out of the game with Wilson under center. As a result, the veteran quarterback finished tied with the most fourth quarter comebacks (four) and game-winning drives (five).
Adding to these stellar results, the Wisconsin standout defied all odds with his completions during the 2019 campaign. Escaping the pocket and fitting the football into tight windows earned him a 61.3 percent expected completion percentage (third-lowest among all qualified quarterbacks). Thanks to his elite accuracy, the Seahawks quarterback recorded the fourth-highest completion percentage above expectation (4.8 percent), according to Next-Gen-Stats.com.
While Wilson isn’t the same rusher he was earlier in his career, the 5-foot-11 quarterback was still able to find a way to be very productive on the ground. Bailing his offense out several times, Wilson surged past the first down marker 17 different times, good for ninth-most among all quarterbacks in the league according to Sports-Info-Solutions.com.
In addition, the former third-round selection also recorded the fourth-most rushing attempts (75), the sixth-most rushing yards (342), the eighth-most yards per carry (4.6), and finished tied with the fourth-most touchdowns (three) among all qualified quarterbacks.
Along with Wilson starring in the regular season, the six-time Pro Bowler was able to carry his impressive production into the postseason. Despite throwing just two touchdowns during Seattle’s playoff run, he was still able to make a significant impact during his seventh postseason appearance.
Through two games, Wilson completed 39 of his 61 targets (63.9 percent completion percentage) for 602 yards and recorded a 107.4 passer rating. On the ground, the Super Bowl XLVIII champion rushed 16 times for 109 yards and averaged 6.8 yards per carry.
What Went Wrong
Even though Wilson produced another superstar performance in 2019, he was forced to face an enormous amount of pressure in the pocket from opposing defenses.
In total, the Ohio native was sacked 48 times (tied for first among all quarterbacks in the league), hurried 71 times (first), blitzed 221 times (second-most), and was forced to scramble 45 times (second-most) as well.
Unfortunately for Wilson, all this pressure in the passing game led to some ill-advised throws over a four-game stretch during the second half of the regular season. Luckily, his pick six against the Vikings was the only interception that ultimately led to a score.
From Weeks 10 through 14, the 31-year old quarterback was sacked 18 different times and was picked off once in four consecutive contests. Despite winning three of these four matchups, these struggles impacted his ability to keep pace with Lamar Jackson in the MVP race.
Since recording a career-high 14 fumbles in 2017, Wilson has made a conscious effort to improve his ball security-related issues over the last two seasons. With that said, he’s still got some room to grow in that department over the second half of his career.
Among all quarterbacks in the league, Wilson finished with the eighth-most fumbles (eight) and his team only recovered two of them. Thankfully, his fumble late in the fourth quarter against the Steelers was the only turnover that ultimately led to a touchdown for the opposition.
While Wilson will still be looking for his first MVP vote next season, leading his team to another Super Bowl appearance will likely be his main goal during the 2020 campaign.
With veterans Greg Olsen, Phillip Dorsett, and Carlos Hyde added to Seattle’s offense over the offseason, the undersized quarterback will have plenty of new weapons at his disposal next season. In addition, Tyler Lockett, D.K. Metcalf, and Will Dissly will all be returning for another season in the Pacific Northwest.
In comparison to Wilson’s first eight seasons in the league, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is the only other player who’s produced at least 20,000 passing yards, 200 touchdowns, and one rushing touchdown through his first eight seasons in the NFL.
While this isn’t much of a sample size, Ryan was able to throw for 4,944 passing yards and 38 touchdowns along with rushing 35 times for 117 yards during his ninth season in the league. Despite Atlanta surrendering a 28-3 lead in Super Bowl LI, the veteran quarterback was also very productive during the 2016 playoffs, completing 70 passes for 1,014 passing yards and nine touchdowns.
If Wilson is able to remain healthy for the ninth consecutive season, then he shouldn’t have any issues producing another MVP-caliber season and should be in the mix for Pro Bowl and All-Pro nods as one of the best quarterbacks in the sport today.