If not for Lamar Jackson, the MVP for the 2019 NFL season would undoubtedly by Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. In fact, it’s not even close. That’s the type of competition the Philadelphia Eagles are up against in the Wild Card round.
In 2019, Wilson’s slung it around the yard for 31 touchdowns, only 5 interceptions, 4,110 yards, and is Pro Football Focus 2nd highest graded quarterback among ingrained starters. The Seahawks’ propensity for playing tight games is survivable due to Wilson tying for the league lead in fourth quarter comebacks (4) and game-winning drives (5).
PFF also ranks him 5th in adjusted completion percentage, 5th in the same category on deep balls, and he owns the 4th best QB Rating when under pressure. There aren’t many answers to the question, “how do you stop Russell Wilson?” Instead, the question for the Eagles will be how to contain him.
Is blitzing the answer? Yes and no. Narrowing escape lanes for a quarterback that frequently holds on to the ball with the hopes of creating magic sounds great in theory, but he can make you pay for that. The stats tell tell that same story.
Wilson When Blitzed: 59.6%, 7.3ypa, 13 TD, 4 INT, 96.3 QB Rating
Wilson Not Blitzed: 69.8%, 8.4ypa, 18 TD, 1 INT, 112.1 QB Rating
Yes, there’s a difference in those stat lines, but there’s also a good deal of “pick your poison” involved for defensive coordinators. The Eagles have seen the results of blitzing and sitting back against Wilson, having seen him four times and losing all four of those meetings.
The last time they met, it’s notable that Wilson did not have a great game. He missed some open shots and the Eagles defense harassed him with 6 sacks. How they did it may provide some insight on how they plan to attack Wilson on Sunday.
One way that worked in containing and taking down Wilson involved safety Malcolm Jenkins. With 2 sacks on the day, Jenkins played his role of “green dog” well. He would often be tasked with covering a running back, but if that running back stayed in to block, Jenkins was given the green light to blitz. They also covered running backs with “2-on-1 funnels”. This means that Jenkins and another player would be responsible for coverage only if the back came to their side of the formation. If he went the other way, the opposite side defender would come on a delayed blitz.
It’s not the only tactic the Eagles can use to get to Wilson before the magician grabs for the rabbit. In their last meeting they successfully matched up Fletcher Cox on overwhelmed center Joey Hunt. They also utilized a variety of stunts, sometimes paired with blitzes, to confuse a Seahawks’ offensive line that has seen more injuries hit it since the previous encounter.
We discuss this match-up for the Eagles and how they can try to win it on The QB Scho Show #47! We also give our weekly performance review of Carson Wentz. You can listen to that conversation on the media player below or click here if the player doesn’t load. New to podcasts?! Check out our guide on how to listen and subscribe to BGN! FLY EAGLES FLY!