Most defenses begin the process of licking their chops when the opposing team in that particular week has a rookie quarterback at the top of its depth chart. But most teams don't have a rookie quarterback quite like the Seattle Seahawks' Russell Wilson.
Wilson, a third-round pick in the 2012 draft, started all 16 games for Seattle in the regular season and finished in the top 10 among NFL quarterbacks in completion percentage (64.1 percent), touchdown passes (26) and finished third with 489 rushing yards.
More impressive than his top 10 categorical accomplishments moving the ball on offense was the fact that Wilson — very much unlike what a rookie passer typically is capable of — did a fantastic job of limiting mistakes.
Wilson threw just 10 interceptions in 2012. Only four passers — Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Aaron Rodgers and Robert Griffin III — with at least 300 passing attempts threw fewer, and three of them own Super Bowl rings.
Speaking to the media via conference call Wednesday, Wilson said that speed of the game, not physically but mentally, has slowed down for him tremendously from Week 1 to now, the divisional round of the playoffs.
But don't take Wilson's word, as he said he now feels he has much more time to go through progressions and make reads on opposing defenses, evidence of this is in the statistics. By comparing his first eight games to his last eight you'll find a first-year quarterback who doesn't look too much like a rookie any longer.
Not only is there a difference in Wilson's quarterback rating of 37.9 points from the first half of the season to the last, but he also raised his completion percentage from 61.4 percent to 67.2 percent. But those aren't the only two factors that show Wilson made better decisions as he got NFL experience under his belt.
After throwing eight interceptions in his first eight games, Wilson threw just two during Seattle's final eight games. Wilson got more accurate as the season progressed and he drastically reduced his mistakes.
"We've grown up at the quarterback (position) is really what it is," Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said. "We conservatively marched through the early part of the schedule, and where we are now is we have a quarterback that we know and we trust and we believe in, and he's made a ton of good things happen for us."
Carroll wasn't the only person gushing over the play of Seattle's quarterback Wednesday. Wilson was a hot topic of conversation in the Falcons' locker room as the team got ready for its first on-the-field practice in since finding out the Seahawks would be their first playoff opponent.
"It comes from Russell Wilson," strong safety William Moore said, speaking about how Seattle's offense moves the football. "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 all right"