INDIANAPOLIS – Spoiler alert: If you’re tired of reading gushing accounts of Russell Wilson’s rookie season, do not continue.
But if you’re not, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll heaped more effusive praise upon the quarterback who did so much during the 2012 NFL season.
It was after Carroll had completed his podium stint at the NFL Scouting Combine on Friday. A few reporters followed Carroll into the hallway at Lucas Oil Stadium and one asked about Wilson being the best player on the field during the Seahawks’ playoff victory over the Redskins and their playoff loss to the Falcons.
“I do agree with that,” Carroll said. “I do agree that at the time and those places, I thought he was the best player on the field. What’s really exciting about that is that’s what John (Schneider, the GM) came to me and said during the early part of his senior college season, ‘This guy is the best player on the field. Wherever he goes, he’s going to be the best guy, just by his command of the game and his style and athleticism and all of that.’
“It was really exciting. From the second half of the season, there were many games where he was essentially the best guy out there.”
What’s really exciting moving forward is how good Wilson can become.
“He’s got a lot of room to grow,” Carroll said. “He’s just getting started. So it’s really an exciting time for us and for Russell as well.”
INDIANAPOLIS – The Falcons barely beat one mobile quarterback in the playoffs (the Seahawks’ Russell Wilson) and barely lost to another (the 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick).
They will face each again in the 2013 regular season, as the Falcons are paired against the four teams from the NFC West. And they also have to play the NFC South-rival Panthers and Cam Newton twice a season.
Wilson ran seven times for 60 yards and a touchdown in the Seahawks’ two-point loss to the Falcons in the divisional round of the playoffs, while Kaepernick had 21 yards on two carries in the 49ers’ four-point victory in the NFC Championship game. Newton, meanwhile, ran for 86 and 116 yards against the Falcons and scored a TD in each of their regular-season games.
So it’s no surprise that Atlanta coach Mike Smith is putting an emphasis on defending the zone-read – or read-option, if you will.
“I know I vetted our coaching staff that we’re going to spend a whole lot of time, because it could be the wave of the future,” Smith said on Friday at the NFL Scouting Combine. “I’m not saying that it will be, but it could be.
“More and more college teams are running that style of offense. And we’re going to have to be prepared to play it. We’re going to play it again next year. We’re playing the NFC West and we play it twice in our division. So it’s something that we want to make sure that we have a very good understanding of.”
INDIANAPOLIS – It happened on an almost-weekly basis during the 2012 NFL season. Ask the opposing coach what impressed him about a Seahawks defense that would end up allowing the fewest points in the league and rank No. 4 in average yards allowed and the response would be, “They’ve got a couple of giants playing cornerback.”
That would be 6-foot-4 Brandon Browner on the right side and 6-3 Richard Sherman on the left side. And at the NFL Scouting Combine this week, the talk isn’t just about how well they played, but how they were obtained.
Sherman was a fifth-round pick in the 2011 draft, while Browner was signed that same year – to a future contract in January, no less – after spending four seasons in the CFL.
As Pat Kirwan, a former NFL scout who is now an analyst for CBSSports.com, put it, “Every team in the NFL is trying to build what the Seattle Seahawks have created with four big secondary players who are physical and can take away the passing game in man-coverage schemes. The four corners at the top of this draft all have Seahawk size, but can they run like the guys out in the Northwest?”
The rest of the Seahawks’ secondary is comprised of 6-3 strong safety Kam Chancellor and All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas. Thomas (first round) and Chancellor (fifth round) were selected in the 2010 draft, the Seahawks’ first under GM John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll.
Included among those top four corners that Kirwan mentioned is Desmond Trufant, the University of Washington product and brother of Marcus Trufant, the Seahawks’ first-round draft choice in 2003 who is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent next month.
INDIANAPOLIS – Every NFL fan is well aware of Revis Island. Thursday, John Idzik got a taste of the Revis Grill.
Idzik, the Seahawks’ vice president of football operations the past six years, is now general manager of the Jets. His second interview in that capacity since being hired last month turned into near interrogation about the future of Darrelle Revis, the Jets’ on-the-mend Pro Bowl cornerback.
Idzik’s podium stint at Lucas Oil Stadium was one of the most highly attended interview sessions of the day, when two dozen coaches and GMs as well as more than 50 draft-eligible players visited the media center. And most of the questions were about Revis.
“Darrelle Revis is obviously a great football player,” Idzik said. “He’s a great New York Jet. He’s tremendous asset to our football team and our organization. With respect to clarity, I don’t know that anything has really changed. Because we’ve always wanted Darrelle as part of our team and that has not changed.”
Next question? It was about Revis. As was the next. And the next. And the next. And so on and so on.
Idzik, however, was able to slip in a message he learned the past three seasons while working with coach Pete Carroll in Seattle.
“We’re going to have a general mantra with the New York Jets, and it’s going to be competition through and through,” he said. “We want to improve competition at every single position.”
Idzik did come armed with his sense of humor. As he stepped to the podium, he offered, “Good afternoon, I’m John Idzik of the New York Jets.”
INDIANAPOLIS – Bruce Arians is new to the NFC West as the recently hired head coach of the Cardinals. But he’s no stranger to Seahawks fans.
That was evident – not to mention obvious – when he stepped to the podium in the media center at the NFL Scouting Combine on Thursday wearing a large Super Bowl ring (is there any other kind?)
Asked about it, Arians said it was from Super Bowl XL. That just happens to be the Super Bowl the Seahawks lost to the Steelers in 2006, when Arians was the wide receivers coach in Pittsburgh.
“The players like it,” he said when asked why he was wearing that particular ring. “The other one’s too big to wear.”
That would be Arians’ ring from Super Bowl XLIII, when Pittsburgh beat the Cardinals and he was the Steelers’ offensive coordinator.
Arians makes the jump to Arizona after being the interim head coach of the Colts last season, taking over after Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with cancer. That fact made Arians’ return to Lucas Oil Stadium an emotional – as well as surreal – experience.
“The people, the relationships that happened in this building last year are very, very special,” he said. “I’d always said I wasn’t going to be a head coach just to be one. It had to be the right fit to leave Indianapolis, because I had the greatest job in the world right here.
“The biggest thing last year, I watched a dear friend get healthy.”
And he does know what he’s getting into with the move to the vastly improved NFC West – where the 49ers advanced to the Super Bowl, the Seahawks came within a two-point loss to the Falcons of playing the 49ers in the NFC Championship game and the Rams improved to 7-8-1.
“It’s a dynamic division, with two really good young quarterbacks,” Arians said of the Seahawks’ Russell Wilson and the 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick. “But mostly, they’ve got great defenses.
“It’s an outstanding division. It reminds me a lot now of the AFC North, the way the teams are running the football and playing defense. Each division is extremely difficult, but right now the West is very tough.”
INDIANAPOLIS – While Russell Wilson was turning doubters into pouters during his rookie season with the Seahawks, his former center from the University of Wisconsin was not surprised. At all, by any of what the ex-Badger quarterback was able to accomplish at the next level.
“Absolutely not,” Travis Frederick said when asked about Wilson’s success. “Russell Wilson, that is exactly who he was at Wisconsin and that’s exactly who he is as a person.”
Frederick offered his opinion on Thursday, when the offensive linemen at the NFL Scouting Combine made their way through the media center at Lucas Oil Stadium.
“He is just a winner,” Frederick said. “He’s a guy who goes out and works hard and will do whatever it takes to win on game day.”
That sounds like Frederick knows Wilson pretty well, because that’s exactly what Wilson displayed during his rookie season.
As for Frederick, he is the top-rated center in this year’s draft class by NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock. Frederick was asked what makes him the best player at his position in this draft.
“I think there’s a lot of great talent out there, both at center and guard,” Frederick said. “I’ve seen some of the other guys play and they’re very, very good. I think that I play very well, as well, and I think I rank up there with those guys.”