Atlanta Falcons: Q&A with Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has dazzled despite questions about his small stature. (Rick Bowmer/Associated Press)

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has dazzled despite questions about his small stature. (Rick Bowmer/Associated Press)

By MICHAEL CUNNINGHAM

FLOWERY BRANCH — Russell Wilson was the sixth quarterback selected in the 2012 draft, but he’s the only one to lead his team to the divisional playoff round.

The Seahawks took Wilson with the 75th pick out of Wisconsin and eventually made him the starter, despite signing free-agent Matt Flynn to a rich contract in the offseason. It has paid off as Wilson has become a dynamic offensive threat for the Seahawks, who play the Falcons at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Georgia Dome.

Here are some excerpts from Wilson’s conference call with Atlanta reporters Wednesday:

Q: (Falcons defensive coordinator) Mike Nolan compared you to (Hall of Fame quarterback) Fran Tarkenton. That’s got to be something, right?

A: I know who he is. He’s a tremendous quarterback who played way back when and did a lot of great things and changed the game. I studied film on him and Doug Flutie and Drew Brees, (with me) not being the prototypical quarterback. For me, (my size) is not a disadvantage. My height doesn’t define my skill set. I feel I can make any play on the field.

Q:What were your expectations when the Seahawks drafted you?

A: My expectations were very high. I’ve always believed in myself. That’s what has allowed me to be successful and be where I am today. If I listened to everybody who said I can’t do it, I can’t play quarterback, I can’t be a starting quarterback, I wouldn’t be here. I believe in my God-given ability and knowledge and football I.Q. I work at it every day. You’ve got to work it at every day. Obviously I try to learn from the best by watching other quarterbacks across the NFL.

Q: What did you learn from watching smaller guys like Flutie, Brees and Tarkenton?

A: The biggest thing is they never cared or worried what everyone had to say about the way they played. They just went out there and trusted their reads. I’ve been the same height for a while. For the last six or seven years I’ve been this height, and I’ve learned to trust my ability. I have long arms and big hands, and that allows me to throw. I have the ability to move, which is a big plus. I can step up, step back, slide out of things and make something happen. You watch a guy like Brees, he keeps his eyes downfield all the time, and that’s what I try to do. I don’t really like running, to be honest. I’d rather throw all day and get it to the true playmakers and facilitate. But sometimes the right play is to run.

Q: Has the speed of the game slowed down for you now?

A: It definitely has slowed down for me. Physically, obviously it’s the same speed, but mentally, it’s slowed down. I’m trusting my reads, knowing where I’m going with the football and believing in it. The more experience I get, it’s going to help. I played 50-plus games in college, 20-plus here. That helps a lot. And the way we practice it’s very, very fast. Coach (Pete) Carroll is good about that.



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97 comments Add your comment

Esquire

January 10th, 2013
6:58 am

How many batted down balls can our defensive line get on Sunday? Vertically challenged QB’s always get stuffed.

Mike Franklin

January 10th, 2013
7:14 am

Okay, let’s just concede the game to Seattle… I mean, that’s what the media wants, right?

Season Ticket Holder

January 10th, 2013
7:32 am

Keep Wilson contained and don’t let him extend plays with his legs. The Falcons WIN!

father of a vertically challenged qb

January 10th, 2013
7:51 am

jus watch them win baby

GDawg

January 10th, 2013
7:56 am

Trust me when I say this Spoon will be spying him all game, and he fast enough in the open field to catch him.

Esquire

January 10th, 2013
7:58 am

BE THERE!!!

(reprinted without permission)

The 2013 playoffs are here, and as Atlanta gears up for a huge post-season game, 680 The Fan is throwing the biggest playoff rally in the city! Join us for the Atlanta Playoff Rally presented by Bud Light. Friday January 11th, at Dave & Busters in Marietta! Chuck & Chernoff will kick things off with a live broadcast from 3-7p but all the rally action will continue until 9! Fox 5 Atlanta will also be live on site as we let the birds know that the 680 nation has their back! Let’s celebrate the playoffs and help get this city ready for a run!

Esquire

January 10th, 2013
8:00 am

father of a vertically challenged qb
January 10th, 2013
7:51 am

jus watch them win baby

**************************************
Watch who win my friend?

The 12th Falcon

January 10th, 2013
8:09 am

MG3

January 10th, 2013
8:17 am

Russell Wilson is a fine young QB and seeming a terrific young man as well…that said, I hope Spoon gives him the same ATL welcome that he gave one RGIII. The Seahawks aren’t the only physical team out there!

Fair catch Franks

January 10th, 2013
8:26 am

Enter your comments here

Fair catch Franks

January 10th, 2013
8:31 am

Seahawk fans are like the guy who shows up for the prom in a powder blue tux, then at dinner stuffs a napkin down the front of his shirt. They lack any class.

Phoebe

January 10th, 2013
9:04 am

@Esquire — “Vertically challenged QB’s always get stuffed”.

That is a myth. The issue is not height, but the issue is the height in which they release the ball. Wilson has a high release and so does Brees. This is the reason why Wilson ended with a 100 QB rating just behind Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning and Robert Griffin III and a spot higher than Matt Ryan.

Lefty

January 10th, 2013
9:12 am

I’m willing to bet my hard earned moola that Russell Wilson has had fewer passes knocked down than Matt Ryan. And I don’t say that lightly as my moola is hard earned. That being said I think the SeaTerds are going down!

MaxxFalcon

January 10th, 2013
9:16 am

Russel and RGIII’s QB ratings are higher because they don’t throw it nearly as often as Matt Ryan, Aaron Rodgers or Peyton Manning. The Skins and Seahawks both have great rushing attacks, unlike the Packers and Falcons. If RGIII or Russel had to throw as much as Aaron or Matt, their ratings would be much lower. And let’s go ahead and agree that Russel Wilson’s height does not hinder him on the football field at all. Agreed? Good. Next topic…

Ellison Smith

January 10th, 2013
9:18 am

Esquire, have you watched wilson play at all or are you still reading pre draft reports on him. He doesn’t get any more passes batted down than anyone else. Every QB has to through through passing lanes, the O-lines averages 6′6” every qb, even the prototypical Brady and Manning(s) have to through through passing lanes, Russell Wilson’s no different. The only difference is he already has more postseason wins that Matty Ice

DR. FALCON

January 10th, 2013
9:58 am

HEY RUSSELL, YOUR SUCCESS IS A NICE LITTLE STORY, BUT, IT COMES TO AN END ON SUNDAY! SEE YOU NEXT YEAR! WE WILL SHOW THE WORLD, WHAT FALCON FOOTBALL IS ALL ABOUT!

I usually just read but...

January 10th, 2013
10:38 am

Q: Are you happy with your center?
A: Not really. I want coach to sign Ned Beatty for me.

Gamer

January 10th, 2013
10:45 am

This guy sound like a veteran quarterback… One can discern his gameful insight is off the chart,,far beyond his years as a rookie, very intriguing…..Falcons must suit up as if they are playing against one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time….This guy is a high caliber quarterback…

This is what the Falcons need to face to eradicate pessimist media critics….Falcons stay focus…

Falcons on three, DOMINATE!!!!!

atlantafalcon fan

January 10th, 2013
10:49 am

HEY AJC ..THIS IS ATLANTA GEORGIA …AND ATLANTA FALCONS COUNTRY WHY ARE YOU INTERVEIWING THE OPPOSING TEAMS QUATERBACK I COULD GIVE A RATSa$$ ABOUT RUSSELL WILSON…I WANNA HEAR ABOUT THE ATLANTA FALCONS….CAN YOU GIVE THE HOMETEAM A LITTLE SUPPORT HERE????SHESSSSSSSSH..GET BEHIND THE FALCONS AND NOT SOME UNEXPERIENCED UNTESTED TEAM 3 ,000 MILES AWAY

Buddy Landel

January 10th, 2013
10:54 am

Check out the cbssports.com “experts” picks. There are 9 experts. The picks break down like this: 2/9 pick Atlanta, 2/9 pick Frisco, 1/9 picks Baltimore, ZERO/9 pick Houston.

Phoebe

January 10th, 2013
10:55 am

@MaxxFalcon – I definitely concede that RG3 and Wilson didn’t throw it as much as Rodgers, Manning, and Ryan — but to presume that they would have a much lower QB rating is just a speculation. If increased throws equated lower QB ratings by default, then that would mean that at least 6 QBs who threw less than RG3 and Wilson should have higher QB ratings, but they don’t. At least one of those QBs had a team that was ranked #5 in rushing offense as well. They are all in the low 70s of QB rating. It has as much to do of with the efficiency of their throws.

There are many that threw for less than Ryan and their QB rating is much worse because Ryan makes more efficient throws than those individuals. Wilson in 2009 broke the record for the most consecutive pass attempts without an interception for the NCAA. The record was 325. He made a new record of 379. This season, he threw for no interceptions for 3 games straight. The point is, his QB rating is also affected by the fact that he, for the most part, protects the ball and doesn’t throw interceptions very often. He will continually get better in this area. He’s a rookie and so I anticipate further betterment of his game as time goes along.

Slightly Dirty Bird

January 10th, 2013
10:55 am

More Disrespect. Nate Silver on ESPN just predicted a Seahawks-Patriots Super Bowl. Lol. Regardless of what happens in the playoffs, I think Russell Wilson is going to get a raise (makes $390,000 this year)

Falconetti

January 10th, 2013
11:09 am

He’s no more than a mediocre manage the game type QB. The young, mobile QB’s have gotten a lot of pub at least since ‘Slash’ but none of them has ever won a SB. When the dust settles Sunday, Brady, Peyton, Rogers, and Matty Ice will have another game to prepare for.

GATarheel

January 10th, 2013
11:17 am

@Falconetti Ryan has to win a playoff game first.

Phoebe

January 10th, 2013
11:17 am

@Falconetti – It’s true that the young, mobile QBs that have gotten a lot of publicity this year have not won a SB. But they are rookies, so they haven’t had a chance to aim for the SB yet. This statement will only matter if Wilson or Kaepernick (who isn’t a rookie, but this is the first year he has taken the helm) do not win the SB.

Wilson is a passer first. He is not RG3. His first instinct is not to run. He always looks down field. He always looks to throw. But if everyone is covered and he knows he can get some positive yardage, he will run. But he always prefers to throw first and foremost. He will only run a first down. He will slide or get out of bounds. The only time he pushes more yardage is if he knows that there is no one near him.

I definitely don’t think that the Falcons deserve the disrespect that they have been given by the media. It’s kind of strange to be honest to have the Seahawks not be perceived as the underdogs. They have played that role for quite a long time that to have the media fawning over them is new. But if anything, it brings a bigger resolve with the Falcons fan base and most likely even players, to prove that the Falcons have had the amazing record that they’ve had in the regular season for a reason.

Napolean

January 10th, 2013
11:19 am

There were no questions about height, yet he referenced his height directly in two answers, and indirectly in another.

GATarheel

January 10th, 2013
11:21 am

I hope the Falcons win, but if they don’t Smith will have to go. This team is too talented not have one a playoff game.

GATarheel

January 10th, 2013
11:22 am

I meant won a play off game

Vu Ḉa Avant

January 10th, 2013
11:24 am

Atlanta has consistently lost to vertically challenged QBs.

Esquire

January 10th, 2013
11:25 am

Mularkey didn’t last long at Jax…………………..I guess that new GM knew him too well.

Esquire

January 10th, 2013
11:29 am

Phoebe
January 10th, 2013
11:17 am

Wilson is a passer first. He is not RG3. His first instinct is not to run. He always looks down field. He always looks to throw. But if everyone is covered and he knows he can get some positive yardage, he will run. But he always prefers to throw first and foremost. He will only run a first down. He will slide or get out of bounds. The only time he pushes more yardage is if he knows that there is no one near him.
*************************************
You do know that the Seachickens are a running team don’t you?

Esquire

January 10th, 2013
11:32 am

Hey, a tornado watch in New Orleans………..one can only hope…………….uh er that nobody suffers loss or injury. Seen……………..run for cover!!!!! Oh no……!!!

ROFLMAO

LoveMyDirtyBirds

January 10th, 2013
11:33 am

Same team we had 24-7 at the half at their place in 2011.
With the same guys playing defense to include “CLEMONS”.
Ryan 28/42 291 1 TD
Turner 28 carries 70 YDS 2 TD
JJ 11 REC 127
RWhite 6 rec 78

Lynch 8 carries 24 yds 1 TD (12 yd run)

We are not losing to this team……..

Phoebe

January 10th, 2013
11:38 am

@Esquire – I know you’re being tongue-in-cheek. Haha. Obviously, everyone knows that they are the #1 rushing offense. I am speaking about Wilson, not the team. The statement was in reference to the QBs being mobile. My statement was specifically about the fact that as a QB (not as a team), he is a passer first not a runner. He runs out of necessity, when given the opportunity. But he’d always rather throw it or hand it off to Lynch or Turbin.

Esquire

January 10th, 2013
11:41 am

Can’t really compare Wilson’s vertically challenged status to Fran Tarkenton. Hell, Fran was 2 inches taller than Wilson.

Phoebe

January 10th, 2013
11:41 am

@Esquire — I wanted to delete that comment cause the Seahawks are third after Redskins and Vikings. Sorry for the misstatement.

Pigskin

January 10th, 2013
11:42 am

Stayed up late last night watching D-Block videos. If you ain’t jacked up yet…..watch some of these! A little inside look at our guys kickin’ it.

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=d+block+atlanta+falcons&oq=d+block+atlanta+falcons&gs_l=youtube.12…0.0.0.6366.0.0.0.0.0.0.0.0..0.0…0.0…1ac.

* #50 is the guy they call “the Rookie.” He’s not allowed to talk but, his presence in every video is a fixture. He says so much w/o saying a word!

Esquire

January 10th, 2013
11:45 am

Tarkenton was 0-3 in the Super Bowl, uh oh. Did he ever play for Buffalo…? hmmm……..

Esquire

January 10th, 2013
11:47 am

Phoebe
January 10th, 2013
11:41 am

@Esquire — I wanted to delete that comment cause the Seahawks are third after Redskins and Vikings. Sorry for the misstatement.

**********************************

It’s ok Phoebe, I usually want to delete most of my comments after I hit submit comment too.

trailerparkted

January 10th, 2013
11:54 am

Wilson has more playoff wins than Ryan…………until that changes, stfu

Phoebe

January 10th, 2013
12:06 pm

@Esquire — :) I love the passion of fans – from both sides. I love my Seahawks, but I also do understand the frustration of the Falcon fans. Your team does have the BEST winning record of the NFC. So I understand why it’s frustrating to watch the talking heads not give more credit where credit is due. For me, I know that Irvin needs to step up and get some sacks on Ryan, since Clemons is getting his surgery on his ACL.

Unfortunately I won’t be able to watch the game except for the last 20 minutes or so, but what I will be tracking is how much the Seahawks allow Ryan to pass and how much they control the Falcons run game. I am sure you probably know the pattern in which the Falcons have lost the past three playoff games. The consistent number is, if Ryan is kept under 200 passing yds and the rushing game is kept under 65 yds, they most likely will lose the game.

It should be a great and competitive game. I like those the most.

The 12th Falcon

January 10th, 2013
12:20 pm

ATLANTA 34
SEATTLE 0

Big Ray

January 10th, 2013
12:22 pm

Russel Wilson is a very good QB.

That said, the points about how much he is asked to throw versus some of the more prolific pocket passers cannot be ignored.

“Russel Wilson has more playoff wins than Matt Ryan.”

This is called a cheap shot. Last I looked, Joe Flacco had a good number of playoff wins. How many of these can he account for? None. Baltimore won on the strenth of it’s defense and on the talent of RB Ray Rice.

Seeing a slight parallel here? You should. Seattle’s defense and their RB are BOTH very highly rated and highly responsible for that record.

To give Wilson credit, he’s thrown a good number of TDs (26) despite not putting up many attempts (25th in the League), total passing yards (23rd in the League), or yards per game….finishing just ahead of such names as Mark Sanchez, Christian Ponder, and Blaine Gabbert.

Then there’s this playoff game wherein the Seahawks received a huge gift in the form of insane coaching by Mike Shanaham.

I watched the game and saw that first quarter – Seahawks getting ripped by RG III from the pocket no less…not by running. It was all Redskins with Wilson misfiring on passes until RG III got hurt….yet inexplicably stayed in the game, further hurting his team.

Sorry, but once that happened, the Redskins had no chance. They should have taken Griffin out and put Cousins in much sooner to have a chance. All they had to do was control the clock. Seahawks weren’t exactly stuffing Alfred Morris and had been exposed by…who? Evan Royster? Logan Paulsen? Not even Pierre Garcon? LOL

Thanks to the defense no longer having to face RG III and a lot of darn good running by Lynch (followed by Wilson), it was no longer a game.

So what happens when Wilson can’t run? Atlanta defense is coached differently and possesses secondary personnel that will fool you on reads. We handled both Manning brothers – two of the smartest guys in the game.

You’re up next, rook.

Big Ray

January 10th, 2013
12:25 pm

BTW,

Have the Seahawks faced anybody with as many threats as the Falcons present on offense?

Forget Mike Turner.

I’m talking two very strong/very fast, big WRs in Julio and Roddy, plus a HOF TE in Gonzalez, a slot guy with speed and YAC ability in Harry Douglas, and a RB in Rodgers that can hurt you on draw plays, screens, dump-offs, a number of ways.

Your secondary can’t cover them all, and Gonzalez will eat any LB up over the middle.

Your CBs are good….but they like press coverage. You’re not going to press our WRs. They’re every bit as strong as your CBs…probably stronger….and they’re FAST. Julio will KILL you if you try one-on-one. The guy runs a 4.3. Just sayin’…..press if you want. You’ll get beat the hell up…quick.

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Teds Frozen Head

January 10th, 2013
12:45 pm

Esquire ~ You are in for a surprise thinking Wilson will get “stuffed”. It seldom happens. He is a better QB than MR. He has more TD’s and less INT and a higher QB rating by a mile. Don’t underestimate him because of his size, he makes fools out of those who do.

The Falcons only advantage is in their receiving. All other advantages go to the Seahawks. If Seattle gets of to a quick lead it is going to be a long day for Falcon fans.

Joshua Brown

January 10th, 2013
12:52 pm

We need The Georgia Dome to be loud, packed, and full by 12:35 Sunday to cheer on your Atlanta Falcons #arriveby35 #RiseUp

amused in seattle

January 10th, 2013
12:53 pm

The only real threats the Falcons pose on offense are all in the passing game. Falcons have no running backs that averageeven 4 tds a carry. Believe me, your running backs, or run defense, do not out the fear of god in anyone, and that, even more than the fact that Atlanta is 0-4 in the playoffssince 2004, is why most of the experts don’t like the Falcons to advance.

Realist

January 10th, 2013
1:00 pm

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