FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — When the Atlanta Falcons face the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, they’ll be facing one of the hottest quarterbacks in the league right now, Russell Wilson. Playing like anything but a rookie, Wilson led his team to five-straight regular-season wins to finish the season and a Wild Card win over the Washington Redskins.
Last week, Wilson and the Seahawks traveled to the East Coast to face the Redskins. Wilson finished the game with 187 yards through the air and 67 on the ground. Wilson’s ability as a mobile quarterback helps him extend plays like few other quarterbacks can.
“He’s one of those guys that can extend plays,” said linebacker Akeen Dent. “When things break down and he doesn’t see what he wants, he can run around a little bit and he’s real mobile. He’s doing a pretty good job of extending plays.”
The Falcons have faced other mobile quarterbacks this season who are similar to Wilson, having varying amounts of success. Atlanta successfully contained Robert Griffin III, holding him to just seven yards on one carry.
Along with shutting him down numerically, the Falcons shut him down physically as well, knocking him out of the game with a concussion. So, the Falcons have reasons to like their chances.
On the flip side, however, the Falcons have also shown at times that they can struggle at stopping mobile quarterbacks. In two games against Cam Newton and the Carolina Panther, Atlanta gave up a total of 202 yards on the ground to Newton alone. Fortunately for the Falcons, Wilson, at 5-foot-11 and 206 pounds, isn’t nearly the force that Newton is at 6-foot-5, 245 pounds.
Atlanta understands that, like every offense, slowing down the quarterback is key to slowing down the opposing offense altogether. It is important the Falcons contain Wilson so they can make Seattle one dimensional. Everything Seattle does, starts and ends with Wilson’s ability to make plays.
“It comes from Russell Wilson,” said strong safety William Moore. “He’s learned to extend plays and that means a lot. The tight ends, they drag across the field a lot [with] a lot of play action. Like I said, the quarterback, he opens up the door for everything on the offense. So, if we can contain him, we’ll be alright.”
Another advantage the Falcons have over Wilson is experience. Although Atlanta is 0-3 under head coach Mike Smith and quarterback Matt Ryan, this team has been together longer than Russell has been with the Seahawks.
That alone should give the Falcons somewhat of an edge. While Wilson is a great player and very talented, he is a rookie. The Falcons have confused and shut down greater quarterbacks than Wilson this season. If they can execute the same game plan properly and confuse the rookie, it could mean good things for Atlanta.
“That’s our approach to this game. If we can get him [Wilson] off kilter, everything else will snowball from there,” said free safety Thomas DeCoud. “Like you said, they’re playing really well and they’re energized by his play and I think if we can make him make a few mistakes out there, it’ll snowball in the way that they play as well.”