OWINGS MILLS, Md. — If there’s one person in the Ravens locker room who knows Russell Wilson, it’s Earl Thomas.
Thomas, who spent nine years in Seattle before he came to Baltimore this past offseason, had practiced against Wilson every day since he entered the league in 2012.
Now, he’ll be one of the central figures on defense as Baltimore heads to Seattle to face Wilson and the Seahawks. And this year, Wilson has been better than ever.
“Everything is predicated off the run game, and we also know that Russell can extend plays,” Thomas said. “That's when he kind of works his magic — when he plays backyard football. And his receivers do a great job of just melding with him and creating space, boxing guys out and creating leverages and coming up with big catches."
Through just six games, Wilson has thrown for 1,704 yards — a 4,544 yard pace — and 14 passing touchdowns with no interceptions. He’s also rushed for 151 yards and has three rushing scores. He’s also completing 72.5 percent of his passes.
Despite being in an offense that runs the ball about 50 percent of the time, Wilson has excelled. Specifically, he’s been nearly untouchable outside the pocket.
And when he’s under pressure and has to escape, he’s one of the league’s best.
“It’s just like all the other quarterbacks we’ve played before,” Ravens defensive coordinator Don Martindale said. “You can say, ‘Keep him in the pocket.’ There’s times you think you have him in the pocket and he shakes you and he gets out of the pocket. He’s extending plays better than he ever has.”
The Ravens, who blitz as much as anyone in the NFL, will have to make the decision to try and contain Wilson in the pocket where he can pick apart the Ravens defense, or sit back and defend against the pass. Either way, there’s no good option.
“It's sort of like playing against Steph Curry in basketball, if you will,” Martindale said. “You can pick him halfcourt and he's going to try to drive by you or you can slack off and he's going to pull up and hit a three."
The Ravens have their own, different, version of Wilson in Lamar Jackson, who the Ravens are hoping can simulate Wilson’s ability.
But there are only a select number of players in the league that can do what Jackson and Wilson can do with a football in their hands.
"I think he's the only guy that I've seen do it pretty effortlessly, like Lamar does,” Marlon Humphrey said. “We always say we don't want to play Lamar, so I guess we're kind of playing a polished-up, couple-years-down-the-line Lamar. So, we definitely better get ready, because he definitely can do it all."
Against Wilson, the Ravens will have one of the toughest tasks in the NFL this season. Through six weeks, there hasn’t been a team that’s been able to slow him down.
“Defensively, I'm sitting there watching Lamar, and I'm like, 'Oh, wow,'” Humphrey said. “So, I'm hoping that's not happening when I'm out there on defense with him (Wilson). But Russell, he really can get it done. I'm not really saying I'm a fan, but he's Russell Wilson. He’s a pretty big deal.”
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