Despite great game, Wilson shares blame

Calais Campbell gets one of his three sacks of Russell Wilson (Seahawks.com)Russell Wilson clearly had one of his best performances of the season Sunday against Arizona, playing a very efficient game in the face of adversity.

According to ESPN, only 13 passers in NFL history had better ratings than Wilson’s 121.6 when being sacked seven times or more. Wilson was pretty calm in the face of the blitzing Arizona defense, hitting 11 of 13 passes for 153 yards in pressure situations.

But he still missed several opportunities and shared plenty of blame for the seven sacks.

Field Gulls put together screen shots and GIFs of each Seattle play that ended in a sack. After seeing those and rewatching the game, the fact is Wilson probably could have avoided at least four of the sacks if he had made quicker decisions and trusted his receivers a bit more.

The first sack came on the first play of the second quarter, right after Wilson hit Ricardo Lockette on a 48-yard pass to the Arizona 8. Wilson had a good angle on rookie Paul Richardson toward the corner of the end zone but bailed from the pocket late and was sacked by Calais Campbell.

Wilson was sacked again two plays later on a blitz by Deone Bucannon (a rookie from Washington State). You can blame the scheme for that — the Hawks too often leave an open rusher, and the Cardinals’ blitz won that one.

“There’s some times where we know that there is a guy who’s going to be free,” offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. “The way that the defense was playing, they were playing cover zero. It’s important for us to know where the hot guy is, where the guy’s coming free, and then we know we have to make a play off that guy. There’s a couple times we didn’t do that.”

On the Hawks’ next drive, Wilson was taken down again by Campbell. Wilson could have avoided that one. He had Kevin Norwood wide open on a short crossing route over the middle. The line did not block it well, but Wilson could have gotten the ball out. Instead, he was sacked for the third time in six plays.

After a ridiculous play call on third-and-16 that ended up as a 1-yard pass to Moeaki, Hauschka put Seattle up 9-0 with a 52-yard field goal.

On the next drive, Wilson busted off a 49-yard touchdown run that was shortened by a holding call on Jermaine Kearse. After Marshawn Lynch was stopped for a 2-yard loss, Wilson was sacked on the next two plays.

On the first one, Campbell blew up a screen play — Wilson took too much time trying to look off the defense, and Alvin Bailey perhaps didn’t hold his block on Campbell long enough.

On third-and-19, Wilson had plenty of time and could have hit Doug Baldwin on a post route to the left for about 15 yards (the defender was over the top). He also could have tried Kearse at the same distance on other side, but that would have been chancy. Wilson seemed to look to his various options at the wrong time, not seeing what he wanted, and he was taken down by Tommy Kelly.

The last two sacks were Arizona beating Seattle with scheme — Alex Okafor got Wilson on a free rush in the third quarter and the Hawks had a coverage sack in the fourth.

As Pete Carroll said, “We had all kinds of problems. We got beat one-on-one, we had some scheme issues, and we held the ball too long. To have that kind of an onslaught, it took a lot of stuff.”

And while Wilson played an excellent game, he could have been even better.

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