Entering Week 8, Russell Wilson was averaging 80 rushing yards over the past three games. The Seahawks’ ability to scramble had to be an emphasis for the Carolina Panthers’ defense in their preparation as they were able to contain Wilson for only 35 yards. This was one of the reasons they were able to keep the score close.
When defenses face mobile quarterbacks the key to their success is to stay disciplined. One of Russell Wilson’s favorite moves is to pump fake while on the run, which will sometime force defenders to jump or hesitate for a split second. This allows Wilson to run by them and pick up additional yards.
In the second quarter, the Panthers defense contained Wilson perfectly when he tried to scramble out of the pocket. On this play, rookie Kony Ealy was able to beat the Seahawks left tackle and forced Wilson to run to his right.
Charles Johnson is in a race to try and meet Ealy at Wilson which forces Wilson to run backwards before getting around. They key player on this play though is defensive tackle Dwan Edwards. Instead of him running to the pocket to try and get Wilson, he runs behind Johnson to the spot he believes Wilson is going.
This then forces Wilson to try and cut back up field, which allows all three players to contain him and Ealy to come up with the sack. This was a perfect job by the defensive line working together to contain Wilson and stay disciplined.
Unfortunately, not every play worked that way and in the second half, Wilson was able to pick up 15 yards on the ground (shown in the pictures below) and another play in the fourth for 14 yards. On this play, the defensive line ran almost an identical play for the sack in the second quarter, however instead of Wilson getting pressure on his left, it came from Johnson on his right.
The problem with that was Johnson ran past Wilson and basically took himself out of the play. Wilson was able to step up in the pocket and then move to his right with much more open space to work with. At this point, Wilson only has Edwards to beat and if he can get by him the next Panthers defender, Josh Norman, is about 10 yards down the field.
For a majority of the game, the Panthers defensive line did an excellent job of forcing Wilson to work from the pocket. However, in the second half they started to break down and gave the Seahawks quarterback a little more room to run around.
If the Panthers are able to contain Wilson’s ability to pick up yards with his feet and scrambling ability, it will give them a much better chance to pull off the upset in Seattle.