Seahawks’ Russell Wilson can run with the best of them
This season, Russell Wilson has the sixth-most rushing yards for a quarterback in NFL history. “The best way to describe it is that he’s an extra player on offense,” Rams coach Jeff Fisher said this week.
Seattle Times staff reporter
56.1 Average yards rushing per game by Wilson this season
40.2 Percent of his rushes that have resulted in a first down
8 Number of rushes for 20 or more yards
RENTON — Running often just happens, Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson insists every time he’s asked about it.
But as the regular season ends with Sunday’s home game against the St. Louis Rams, Wilson finds himself rushing into NFL history.
Wilson’s 842 yards on the ground are the sixth-most for a quarterback in NFL history, and fifth-most since World War II.
If Wilson hits his average of 56 yards Sunday, he’ll move into fifth all-time. With 61 yards, he’ll move into fourth.
Wilson said Wednesday he’s unlikely to become only the second quarterback in NFL history to rush for 1,000 or more yards in a season. Michael Vick ran for 1,039 yards with the Atlanta Falcons in 2006.
“Yeah, close to 1,000 yards,’’ he said, then laughed. “Not sure if I’ll get that this game. Hopefully not. I’ll be out of gas.’’
Wilson, though, has shown no signs of slowing down as the season winds down despite already running 112 times — 16 more than in 2013 and 18 more than his rookie season of 2012.
Coaches echo Wilson’s comments when asked why he has run more this season. That’s just how things have worked out, they say.
“The games dictate that somewhat,’’ coach Pete Carroll said this week. “If they give us an opportunity for him to run, we are going to take it. It’s not something we are going to force the issue on.’’
Still, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell says, “It’s just kind of part of who we are now.’’
That’s particularly true since the trade of Percy Harvin forced the Seahawks to reconfigure their receiving corps and place greater emphasis on the running game. Wilson rushed for 222 yards in the first five games before Harvin was traded — 44.4 yards per game. Since Harvin was traded, Wilson is averaging 62 rushing yards.
The Seahawks have a package of designed runs for Wilson. Other plays have an option for Wilson to run, such as zone reads, where Wilson can hand the ball to Marshawn Lynch (or another running back) or keep it.
And then there are the times that just happens, such as the 55-yard run in Sunday’s 35-6 win over Arizona. On a play from Seattle’s 5-yard line, Wilson dropped back into the end zone, then saw a big hole. He took off.
“Just a broken play where he was able to take it right up the middle,’’ Bevell said. “He was able to see a lane and he runs a long way.’’
That was the longest run, as Wilson rushed for 88 yards, but maybe not the highlight. That came later, when Wilson scored Seattle’s final touchdown on a bootleg. He faked a handoff to running back Christine Michael, and ran the other way, stopping to juke Arizona linebacker Alex Okafor, then stiff-arming him out of the way to clear a path to the end zone.
Teammate Bobby Wagner, Seattle’s middle linebacker, called it “dope.”
“I didn’t even see it coming,’’ Wagner said. “I don’t even know what kind of move that was that he did to get the guy off balance and stiff-arm him. ... to have to play against a guy like that would be dangerous.”
Rams coach Jeff Fisher is well aware of Wilson’s skill as a runner.
“The best way to describe it is that he’s an extra player on offense,” Fisher said this week. “They’re playing with 12, and that’s very hard to defend.’’
None of this is new, of course. Wilson arrived in the NFL three years ago with a group of quarterbacks touted as potential game-changers because of their ability to run. But Robert Griffin III has battled injuries and Cam Newton inconsistency while Wilson has continued to stay upright and thrive.
One key is that Wilson is stouter than his listed weight of 206 pounds suggests. Wilson said Wednesday he’s closer to 215 and that “if I was 206. I’d probably get thrown out of bounds too much. I try to have a little weight on me.”
Especially in his lower body. Wilson said he concentrates his weight program on his legs, both for strength and stamina.
Despite all the running, Wilson had not missed a play this season until being replaced by Tarvaris Jackson for the final series Sunday.
Seattle’s coaches design runs to keep Wilson largely out of traffic, but trust him to be smart enough to avoid taking big hits.
“We don’t want him getting hit,’’ Carroll said. “We are trying to keep him from getting hit and he does a great job of that himself. But that’s part of the scheme, too. We won’t want to put him in harm’s way. That’s not how it goes. We take what we can get.’’
Wilson has taken plenty. He’s only the third player in NFL history to rush for 800 or more yards in a season while also throwing for 3,000 or more (the others are Vick and Randall Cunningham).
Wilson doesn’t look much at stats.
“I think it’s definitely something significant to rush for that many yards,” he said. “But I don’t try to rush for that many yards.’’
But as long as it keeps happening, he’ll take it.
|Top rushing QBs|
|The top 10 rushing seasons by a quarterback in NFL history:|
|Player||Year||Yards||Yds per game|
|1. Michael Vick, Atlanta||2006||1,039||64.9|
|2. Bobby Douglass, Chicago||1972||968||69.1|
|3. Randall Cunningham, Philadelphia||1990||942||58.9|
|4. Michael Vick, Atlanta||2004||902||60.1|
|5. Cliff Battles, Washington||1937||874||87.4|
|6. Russell Wilson, Seattle||2014||842||56.1|
|7. Robert Griffin III, Washington||2012||815||54.3|
|8. Michael Vick, Atlanta||2002||777||51.8|
|9. Dutch Clark, Detroit||1934||763||63.6|
|10. Cam Newton, Carolina||2012||741||46.3|