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Originally published Tuesday, November 6, 2012 at 8:02 PM

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Breaking down Russell Wilson's rapid rise as Seahawks quarterback

A step-by-step look at how Seahawks rookie Russell Wilson has developed this season.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Sunday

N.Y. Jets @ Seahawks,

1:05 p.m., Ch. 7

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It's a process.

Russell Wilson has said that just about every week. It's a standby phrase in Wilson's repertoire of expressions that includes going 1-0 each week and expecting to be great.

Just because it's a cliché doesn't mean it's false, and in three months, Wilson has followed that process to first earn the starting job as Seattle's quarterback and then solidify his place under center.

No one is calling for Matt Flynn to start for Seattle anymore. At least not loud enough to hear, and certainly not like it was in September when the Seahawks' offense was about as potent as the Mariners'. But over the first nine games, the most important trend for Wilson has been the way he eliminates flaws in his performance.

Halfway through his first season, the most important thing is to judge not how good he is, but how much better he has become. And only by looking at that process step by step, following three critical improvements, can you see how he's reached this point of leading Seattle's offense to 54 points in the past two games and holding the league's 11th-best quarterback rating.

1. Third degree

Russell Wilson was going to get benched. There was no edict made, no declaration from the coach, but when Seattle went two weeks without converting a third down via pass, it was pretty obvious.

In Seattle's second and third games of this season, Wilson was 1-for-10 passing on third down for 3 yards. Third-down passing became the focus for improvement.

Turning point: Week 5 at Carolina.

Wilson completed nine of 10 passes he attempted on third down, five for first downs. The numbers before and after that game show how important it is. In the first four games, his quarterback rating was 87.0 on third down. Since then, it is 154.3.

Pete Carroll said: "He fixed something that we challenged him to fix. I thought he was big time."

Third-down difference
Comparing Russell Wilson's statistics on third down in the first four games with the past five:
Games PC-PA Yds TD-INT Sacked Pass 1st downs QB rating
1-4 11-27 76 1-1 4 6 87.9
5-9 26-44 307 3-0 1 17 154.3

2. Throw while scrambling

The man can move. There has never been any doubt about that, but through the first five games, he was primarily scrambling to avoid the pass rush as opposed to trying to extend the play. That's the phrase coaches use for the quarterback who can buy time in the pocket and let his receivers get free. Wilson was challenged to keep looking downfield even after he started running in the sixth game of the season.

Turning point: Week 6 vs. New England.

On Seattle's second possession, facing third-and-nine, Wilson left the pocket and did just that, throwing to Doug Baldwin for a 50-yard gain. It was Seattle's longest pass of the season to that point, but Wilson was just getting going. He completed three passes of 45 or more yards that game, including the winning touchdown to Sidney Rice with 1:18 left.

Pete Carroll said: "We asked him to not be so quick to take off and run across the line of scrimmage. Get out there, and find time and see if you can find our guys."

3. Red-zone offense

A golfer would call it the short game, and through seven games, it was Seattle's greatest flaw. Through seven games, Seattle drove 18 times inside the 20-yard line. The Seahawks scored a touchdown only six times. That's an OK batting average in baseball, but one of the worst red-zone performances in the league.

Turning point: Week 8 at Detroit.

Seattle scored touchdowns on its final two red-zone possessions. It continued last week against Minnesota, when the Seahawks reached the end zone the first four times they had the ball inside the Vikings 20. Wilson threw four touchdowns from inside the red zone in the past two games, equaling his total from the first seven games combined.

Wilson said: "Throughout the past few weeks, we've been getting better in the red zone. I think the main thing is to continue to grow, continue to focus on the little details."

Red-zone rise
Comparing Russell Wilson's statistics inside the 20 in the first seven games and the past two:
Games Chances TDs (Pct.) FGs (Pct.) Points
1-7 18 6 (33.3) 10 (55.5) 72
8-9 9 6 (66.7) 2 (22.2) 47

Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or doneil@seattletimes.com

Third-down difference

Comparing Russell Wilson's statistics on third down in the first four games with the past five:

Games/PC-PA/Yds/TD-INT/Sacked/Pass 1st downs/QB rating

1-4/11-27/76/1 ¼/6/87.9

5-9/26-44/307/3-0/1/17/154.3

Red-zone rise

Comparing Russell Wilson's statistics inside the 20 in the first seven games and the past two:

Games/Chances/TDs (Pct.)/FGs (Pct.)/Points

1-7/18/6 (33.3)/10 (55.5)/72

8-9/9/6 (66.7)/2 (22.2)/47

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