The Seahawks selected Russell Wilson in the third round of this year’s draft to skepticism from some national draft pundits. Choosing to trust a scout who makes his living on television is about as misguided as deciding you’re covered religiously because you leave the Trinity Broadcasting Network on when you’re home. Lucky for us there’s no need to trust the talking heads as his issue is one you can clearly see, no matter your expertise.
The guy isn’t even near six feet tall, he’s listed at something near 5’11″ and looks like he might be a bit shorter when you see him in person. Linemen in the NFL are tall dudes, most are at least 6’2″ and they come as high as 6’7″ or so. It’s speculated that his height, or lack of height, would make it harder to find throwing lanes. I know I’m going against the grain a bit when I say this; I don’t buy it.
I have never heard a word about Eli Manning’s height being an issue, at 6’4″ he is of prototypical height for an NFL quarterback. I look at that picture trying to imagine how well he can see over those lineman; I feel like it’s got to be pretty difficult. Yes I’m aware that the lineman will be lowered somewhat while gaining leverage to block defenders but I just can’t get behind the idea that it’s really that easy to see down field for a quarterback of nearly any height. Sure I’ll admit that it will be harder for Russell to see his receivers and diagnose what’s happening than it might for Eli, but at the end of the day every quarterback has to be able to find lanes not just over lineman but around them. Luckily for him he’s not shrunk in size lately so he’s pretty well adjusted to doing those things at his current size!
In the series of tweets that announced the decision to name Wilson the week 1 starter Pete had this to say, “(His height) is not even a factor. What is a factor is that he is so elusive and shows great sense. I’ve watched our team respond to him and they’ve taken to his leadership style. He fixes things. If you make him aware of it he finds ways to remedy the situation in impressive fashion.”
The NFL is an interesting case because on one hand it is very progressive, with coaches always tweaking and changing things in an attempt to gain any advantage they can; on the other hand however, it’s also firmly stuck in its “core ideals” with few coaches pushing certain boundaries. Punting on fourth down is a must (quite the opposite), quarterbacks can’t be too tall or too short (not so black and white), a defensive end should be at least 257 pounds if he’s to play on running downs (**making fart sounds now**)… It’s all because of a fear of failure. I don’t believe there aren’t plenty of coaches in the league that feel the urge to break from the weighted chains of routine decision making. Do you want to be the guy who fails going for it on fourth down? Or would you rather be the guy who punts it and waits to see how the defense does with a full field in front of them? Fear is something no coach wants in his players, though many of them carry it within themselves. Isn’t it ironic? Don’t ya think?
My fiance says it’s not… What a kill joy.
The Patriots infamously went for it on fourth and one against the Colts in the final minutes of a close loss. With that call Bill Belichick could have helped progress the NFL’s thinking on fourth down attempts, instead the criticism he faced will be the first thing that comes to the mind of coaches facing similar situations in the future. Pete Carroll is sticking his neck out in similar fashion putting a respected veteran on the bench in favor of a third round rookie who’s not even six feet tall. It might not surprise you at all if you knew the man or had talked to him about the subject of fear. Danny Kelly pointed out a relevant article written by Jaye Scholl for Marshall Magazine where Pete talked about fear and listed a few operating principles he follows in leading young men.
- Have your own belief systems in order before leading others.
- Allow people to perform in the absence of fear.
- Place people in positions where they can excel.
- Relentlessly pursue the competitive edge.
Pete Carroll is a very unique leader in today’s NFL. He believes in pushing it, finding his own way and taking that into battle without fear of failure. He seems to revel in breaking molds and countering cultural norms, with no fear for what the media might say about his decisions. This decision is no different, he used his own beliefs in conjunction with what he saw from Russell and moved forward confidently. That confidence projects out onto the team and those around him, and can only be seen as a good thing. I have confidence he made the right choice.
It’s a choice that goes against common thought processes in the league, what the league learns from this situation is in the hands of Russell Wilson.