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Danny O'Neil covers the Seahawks for The Seattle Times.



October 16, 2012 at 7:00 AM

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Go fourth and conquer: Russell Wilson and Seattle's 4th-quarter riddle

No more controversy: Russell Wilson is the Seahawks' quarterback
By Jerry Brewer | The Seattle Times

For two months now, quarterback Russell Wilson has been compared to to the projection of what Matt Flynn would have done in the same situation.

It's understandable given all the loot Seattle paid to sign Flynn as a free agent. It's also impossible situation because no matter how well Wilson plays -- and I would argue that he has been at or above an average NFL starter the past two weeks -- it won't measure up to what you could argue Flynn would do.

After all, Flynn passed for more yards in his first two NFL starts than all but one player in NFL history.

The result is an argument that has about as many real-world applications as debating whether Superman could defeat Batman in a fight. It's purely hypothetical.

But here's what is a fair comparison: Evaluating Wilson with respect to what Seattle got from its quarterbacks a year ago, especially in the fourth quarter.

That was the glaring deficiency of this team in 2011. In each of its four home losses, it had the ball in the final 5 minutes while trailing by eight points or fewer. In other words: It was a one-possession game. And in those four home losses, Seattle managed a grand total of zero points. Nada. None. Bupkus.

Well, Seattle's already won twice in that situation this season, which is not-so-coincidentally the difference between Seattle's 4-2 record after six games this season and its 2-4 start a year ago.

And in the spirit of using a sledgehammer to nail this point down, I dragged up the results of Seattle's crunch-time numbers a year ago.

Here were the parameters: Any time Seattle had the ball while trailing by eight points or fewer or tied with 5 minutes left in the fourth quarter or overtime. Here's how it looks, broken down first by game and then by quarterback:

2011

 ScoreDrive began (Time)Drive ended (Time)
Game 4ATL 30, SEA 28SEA-15 (1:49)ATL-43 (0:08)
 Drive:9 plays, 42 net yards (47 total offense); 3 first downs. Result:: Missed FG
Game 5NYG 25, SEA 22SEA-20 (4:42)End zone (2:37)
 Drive: 7 plays, 80 net yards (80 total offense); 4 1st downs. Result: Touchdown
Game 6CLE 6, SEA 3SEA-20 (3:05)SEA-26 (2:22
 Drive: 6 plays, 6 net yards (5 total offense); 1 1st down. Result: Turnover (Downs)
Game 7CIN 20, SEA 12SEA-15 (4:50)SEA-7 (3:22)
 Drive: 3 plays, -8 net yards (-8 total offense); 0 1st downs. Result: Punt.
Game 11WASH 20, SEA 17SEA-40 (6:18)SEA-39 (4:16)
 Drive: 3 plays, -1 net yards (14 total offense); 0 1st downs. Result: Punt.
 WASH 20, SEA 17SEA-18 (2:34)SEA-23 (2:07)
 Drive: 4 plays, -4 net yards (1 total offense); 0 1st downs. Result: Turnover (Downs)
 WASH 23, SEA 17SEA-20 (1:06)SEA-21 (0:37)
 Drive: 3 plays, 1 net yard (1 total offense); 0 1st downs. Result: Turnover (INT)
Game 15SF 19, SEA 17SEA-19 (2:57)SF 48 (1:07)
 Drive: 5 plays, 33 net yards (33 total offense); 1 1st down. Result: Turnover (Fumble)
 SF 19, SEA 17SEA-26 (0:41)SEA-34 (0:13)
 Drive: 4 plays, 8 net yards (8 total offense); 0 1st downs. Result: Turnover (Downs).
Game 16ARI 20, SEA 20SEA-21 (5:06)SEA-41 (2:17)
 Drive: 5 plays, 20 net yards (20 total offense); 1 1st down. Result: Punt
 ARI 20, SEA 20SEA-28 (1:46)ARI-49 (0:26)
 Drive: 5 plays, 23 net yards (23 total offense); 1 1st down. Result: Punt
 ARI 20, SEA 20SEA-40 (15:00)SEA-39 (13:55)
 Drive: 3 plays, -1 net yard (-1 total offense); 0 1st downs. Result: Punt


Notice a trend there? Seattle got worse as the year went along. Now take a look at the results this season with Wilson:

2012

 ScoreDrive began (Time)Drive ended (Time)
Game 1ARI 20, SEA 16SEA-20 (4:59)ARI-4 (0:18)
 Drive: 18 plays, 76 net yards (55 total offense); 6 1st downs. Result: Turnover (Downs)
Game 3GB 12, SEA 7SEA-20 (8:44)GB-7 (1:54)
 Drive: 12 plays, 73 net yards (46 total offense); 5 1st downs. Result: Turnover (Downs)
 GB 12, SEA 7GB-46 (0:46)End zone (0:00)
 Drive: 6 plays, 46 net yards (46 total offense); 2 1st downs. Result:Touchdown
Game 4STL 19, SEA 13SEA-20 (3:09)STL-35 (1:00)
 Drive: 9 plays, 45 net yards (45 total offense); 3 1st downs. Result: Turnover (INT)
Game 6NE 23, SEA 17SEA-10 (3:56)SEA-17 (3:02)
 Drive: 3 plays, 7 net yards (7 total offense); 0 1st downs; Result: Punt
 NE 23, SEA 17SEA-43 (2:38)End zone (1:18)
 Drive: 4 plays, 57 net yards (57 total offense); 2 1st downs. Result: Touchdown

 

And finally, let's take a look at it broken down by quarterback, and since Flynn hasn't appeared in a regular-season game yet for the Seahawks, feel free to use your imagination. Some of you are already pretty good at that:

PlayerCrunch gamesC-Att-YdsTD-INTSackedQB rating
Russell Wilson (2012)416-34-1882-1371.8
Charlie Whitehurst (2011)25-11-821-00101.3
Tarvaris Jackson (2011)513-26-1000-1543.8


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What's really sad are when we have multiple opportunities thanks to the Defense and fai... MORE
This team is for real and its because of this defense!! I tell you why they will win... MORE
It looks like we should bench Wilson and bring back Whitehurst since he has such a... MORE

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