Print and Go Back ESPN.com: New Orleans Saints [Print without images]

Sunday, December 1, 2013
Know the enemy: Saints on Russell Wilson

By Mike Triplett

Wilson
The Saints know they have their work cut out for them in defensing Russell Wilson.
METAIRIE, La. -- Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson’s numbers aren’t all that flashy. Except for the win total, of course. The second-year pro is 22-7 as a starter, including the playoffs, and a perfect 14-0 at home.

Wilson’s idol is New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, since they’re both proud members of the 6-foot-and-under club. And like Brees, the 5-foot-11, 206-pound Wilson excels at all of the intangible things -- work ethic, leadership, on-field awareness and confidence. His former college teammate and current Saints receiver Nick Toon called him “borderline obsessive” about his craft.

Wilson isn’t as prolific a passer as Brees, but he’s more versatile as a passer and runner. He has thrown for 2,362 yards and 19 touchdowns and run for 409 yards and one touchdown this season.

Here’s what the Saints players and coaches have said about Wilson this week as they head toward a “Monday Night Football” matchup at Seattle -- where they’ll try to be the first team to finally top him on his home field.

Brees: “Listen, there’s plenty of things that that guy can do that I could never dream of doing athletically. ... He’s so versatile. He’s a, what should I call it, a triple threat? Anything you would need from the quarterback position. He can throw the long ball, he can execute the intermediate passing game. That read option that they run, he’s as big of a threat running the ball as Marshawn Lynch. ... You get Russell Wilson on the perimeter in the run game and he’s extremely effective. Then he scrambles around and can launch the ball 60 yards down field, or he can get a 20-yard scramble for a big first down. There’s just so much he can do that can hurt you.”

Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan: “I think we played him when it was his second game he ever played quarterback in this league [when Seattle beat Ryan’s former team, the Dallas Cowboys, 27-7 last year]. And right now that guy is one of the star quarterbacks in the league. He does so many excellent things with his feet, first of all. And then you can see the intelligence out there. I mean, I know it’s documented how smart he is. But it looks like he loves to play the game. But he is so accurate, especially when he’s on the move, running around like he does, and making plays. You know, he’s tremendous at that. He’s probably the best scrambler in football, in my [opinion]. I think the guy’s outstanding.”

S Roman Harper: “He’s a very smart guy, he’s an accurate quarterback. He has a great deep ball. He throws the ball extremely well, going to his left, going to his right. And it’s amazing, they don’t really call a lot of just run plays for him. But he makes a lot of plays by just scrambling around, receivers breaking their routes off. They make a lot of plays that way. You look at him and say, ‘Man, it’s almost like they’re planning this.’”

S Malcolm Jenkins: “The thing I see with Russell Wilson is, of all the mobile quarterbacks in the league right now, he’s probably the best at getting outside of the pocket and making plays happen. He’s quick to get out of it, but it’s not to run or it’s not that he’s frantic. He gets out with a lot of poise in his eyes and still downfield and he’s making throws. And he runs very efficiently. He’s not trying to get the big play, he’s just getting what he can get and then he’s getting down. ... He won’t get hit like some of these other mobile quarterbacks that when they do run, you look forward to getting a shot on him. He’ll just slide or simply get out of bounds. He’s playing smart to keep his team in it, to keep it close, and they’re putting up points when they need to.”

Coach Sean Payton: “You see in Russell a very competitive, driven player who has, No. 1, a very gifted skill set. And then No. 2, certainly a guy who would prepare tirelessly and work tirelessly to be as good as he can. I think he is a guy that knows how to win. ... I found over the years that with that position, the really, really good one comes in different shapes and sizes. Certainly there are measurables you look for, and yet there are certain things that need to be measured first.”

Brees: “You watch the way he plays, you see the intensity and focus which he plays with, and he’s won a lot of big games in his early career thus far. ... I love what he has overcome throughout his career and kind of the road he has traveled. I couldn’t have more respect for the guy. The way he has handled it, too, I think is even more impressive. He’s one of those guys that you want to root for and are happy for any type of success that comes his way.”