Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has become one of the NFL’s most polarizing players since entering the league in 2012. However, a common question remains, is Wilson a major reason for Seattle’s team success or is he more of a by-product of the team around him? Former MVP quarterback and current NFL Network analyst Kurt Warner joined The Jim Rome Show on Monday and broke down Wilson’s game.
“I still think he’s growing,” Warner said. “He benefits from the fact that early in his career, great defense, great running game, great running back and he had to be kind of a complimentary player. You know, buy some time, make five, six, seven plays a game and you have chances to win championships. Now they don’t have exactly the same pieces, and you’re starting to see him grow as a pocket passer.
“I still think he has a way to go as a pocket passer, and by that I mean seeing coverages making decisions, understanding what he’s seeing within the framework of a play and making those every down plays.”
Warner dug a little deeper into why Wilson is so polarizing.
“A, he doesn’t make a lot of mistakes, and B, he’s got that unique, special ability to make plays outside the pocket,” Warner said. “And when you have a good defense, that’s going to keep you in a lot of games, and you’ve got the ability to make those special plays. That’s a difference maker in this business, Aaron Rodgers is another one of those guys, difference makers, but you just got to get better playing within the pocket.
“But I think he’s growing as a quarterback. He’s only been in the league four years now. He’s had his team at the brink of championships, and winning championships, and he finds ways to win and that’s what it comes down to. I think he’s a polarizing figure because maybe he’s not a great all-around quarterback yet, but he’s a winner, and he’s going to find ways to put you in positions to win every time out. That’s what makes him special, that’s what makes him polarizing, and that’s what eventually could make him one of the greats to ever play the game.”
However, Warner still feels Wilson is not an elite quarterback in the NFL, at least not yet.
“I still think he’s got work to do inside the pocket, their scheme is very simple,” Warner said. “Now, he does some great things inside the pocket, don’t get me wrong. He’s growing up, and he’s better than a lot of mobile quarterbacks inside the pocket, but I think there’s more that he can do inside the pocket with his skill set, and he’s just got to grow into being able to see that and trust that.”
Having walked away from the sport after the 2009 season, Warner talked about his life in retirement and said he now feels physically better than he ever has.
“I could honestly say at 45, I feel like I’m in the best shape of my life,” Warner said. “I feel like I could step back on the field in the NFL and play, and I think a big part of that is because I’ve stayed very active, whether it be playing basketball or lifting weights, or just out there messing around with my kids.”
When asked if an NFL team were to ask Warner if he could physically play now, the 45-year-old talked about the biggest challenges he’d face.
“The one worry I have is that of course it would take some time to just get the mentality and speed back,” Warner said. “Physically, as far as throwing and doing all those things, there’s no doubt in my mind I can do it. My biggest concern is always when you get to 45, could I maintain a level of play for 16 games with the pounding or would my body break down? That’s really the only question I have. Could you still put the same strain on your body week in and week out that you need at this level to play?
“But as far as physically the shape I’m in, and my ability to throw a football and move, there’s no question in my mind I could play. I just don’t know if I went out there and took some of these hits, would I last two weeks, four weeks or could I last 22 weeks if you made a run in the playoffs.”
Would Warner be curious to find out? “I’m not,” he laughed.
“There are moments when I go back to training camp or I go cover a Super Bowl where I’d love for somebody just to say hey Kurt, here, you get ten plays of 7-on-7, let’s go see what you can do,” Warner said. “I would love to just go back in there and see where I would fit in the mix, and mentally, could I still see things and react like I did before. But no I’m completely content I’m happy, I love the things that I’m doing now, the coaching, the work that I’m doing on the network, the freedom that I have at home, and the fact physically, I feel so good at 45 after playing as long as I didn’t in the league.
“So I really don’t want to find out but there’s a part [of you] in the back of your mind, as a retired guy, could I still do it? Could I play better than some of these guys? Because I believe our league is still lacking in good quarterback play.”