The NFL. It's so close. Only three days (or what an insomniac would refer to as "a day") separate Seahawk fans from Seahawk football.
(Technically, the season started last night, but since you're reading an article on SB Nation Seattle, I assume the NFC East probably doesn't interest you a whole lot. )
At approximately 1:25 PDT this Sunday (perhaps closer to 1:35 if the Cardinals win the kickoff and subsequently go three-and-out), the 12th man will hold it's collective breath as Russell Wilson leads his first regular season drive.
It's a whole new ballgame, folks. A ballgame that will feature defensive coordinator Ray Horton and head coach Ken Wisenhunt throwing a cornucopia of blitzes at the rookie phenom. A ballgame where Adrian Wilson's assignment will be "Either intercept Russell Wilson, or hit him so hard he doesn't know what day it is." A ballgame where cleverly disguised fronts will target fellow rookies JR Sweezy and Robert Turbin to ensure protection breakdowns. The Cardinals' defense wants to lay the hammer on Russell Wilson. They want to break him.
From what we've seen from the preseason, how will Russell Wilson respond to these challenges? And how can we expect him to perform overall?
My completely non-biased answer to both questions: pretty well.
Why, you ask? Well let me tell you, good sir or madame!
Wilson will respond well to adversity due to his incredible temperament. Whether he just underthrew his tight end and got picked off or ran for a 50 yard score, Russell Wilson has the same post-play routine: he goes back and studies the playbook. Sure, he'll congratulate his teammates for a few seconds as every good leader should. But after that, he marches straight to the sideline, picks up his playbook, and studies. He runs through in his head what would've worked on every play of the previous drive. Often, he's got his earpiece in and is talking to the coordinators in the booth, gleaning everything that could help him beat his opponent on the next drive.
Therefore, we can conclude that once Wilson fails, he is determined beyond all belief to not make that mistake again. And this trait, this incredible work ethic that Wilson has possessed his entire football career, is why one errant throw won't tank his game. Contrariwise, it will only make Wilson more powerful than you can possibly imagine (couldn't help myself, sorry.)
But what about all the pressure to maintain the starting spot, you ask? What about that guy with the Southern accent, chomping at the bit to regain his starting role? Jeez, what is this, the inquisition?
To answer any inquiries about how Wilson will respond to pressure, I must reference pretty much everything that happened to him over the past few months. From the day he was drafted, the pressure was on Wilson for myriad reasons. He first was pressured to prove himself worthy of a third-round draft pick, when numerous pundits pegged him as a late round prospect. Once in Seattle's rookie camp, the pressure was on Wilson to show that he had mastered an entire playbook in a few short weeks. After his remarkable performance that weekend, Wilson had to perform well enough to earn starting reps in practice. Come preseason time, Wilson was under enormous pressure in Week 3. Essentially the scenario was "do well and start, or do poorly and sit."
In short, Queen and David Bowie would have a field day singing about all the pressure Wilson was under.
But yet, amidst all that, Wilson never buckled. He worked and worked and worked, and kept a humble attitude the whole time. In every press conference, when asked how if the pressure he was under bothered him, the answer was a simple "no" and a follow up along the lines of "it's never been my nature to let pressure get to me."
So far, Wilson has been the 5'11" version of Joe Cool (interesting coincidence: Joe Montana wore #3 in college, #16 in the pros. DangeRuss did exactly the opposite). His mentality is exactly what you expect from a rookie: confident, but never expecting talent alone to lead to his success.
Because of his approach to adversity so far in his Seattle career, we can see that Wilson can handle quite a lot at his young age. When Wilson first throws an interception, or when Darnell Dockett channels his inner criminal and annihilates Wilson in the backfield, expect Wilson to bounce back, and perform.