Marco Benatoff

Wilson Looks To Avoid Sophomore Slump

Created on Jun. 20, 2013 1:02 AM EST

After leading the Seahawks deep into the playoffs and finishing the regular season with a QB rating of 100.0, Russell Wilson has a lot of pressure to prove that he has what it takes to be a long-term NFL starting quarterback.

The road from being an unknown third-round pick to a starting quarterback isn't an easy one, but staying on that glorious path presents more than a few challenges. Coaches around the league have seen his tape and know what to expect from him as a passer and rusher. His fans have great expectations and truly believe he can bring his team to the Super Bowl. Wilson has a big marker reading “Superstar” written all over him, and his performance under this kind of pressure will determine if he takes the next step or if he was a one-year wonder.

Critics believe the so-called ‘sophomore slump’ could hit Wilson this year, but that’s all relative to what a slump really is.

“I don’t even know those words ... I don’t pay attention to it,” Wilson said, following the first day of minicamp.

After conducting an impeccable season without a home loss, not reaching the postseason in 2013 would certainly fall under the ‘slump’ category. Remember, he is a young quarterback and can certainly learn a lot from his mistakes. Even Peyton Manning and John Elway, perhaps the best quarterbacks in the history of the game, didn't win the Super Bowl in their second year. So let's safely assume that if Wilson doesn't bring the Seahawks to a championship, he shouldn't be considered a disappointment.

Carolina quarterback Cam Newton knows a thing or two about the sophomore slump. After setting all kinds of records as a versatile rookie quarterback, he didn't perform as expected in his second act failing to bring the Panthers to the playoffs. The main reason? His lack of adaptability. To ease Newton into the NFL, Carolina employed the same system Newton utilized at Auburn, but when coaches around the league got a chance at analyzing video - and eventually using a QB spy - Newton started going downhill.

Even if Wilson has a troublesome game, he has so many different weapons on offense that the Seahawks could win either way - and a championship-caliber defense only helps his position. Yes, there is pressure on him to perform well, but Seattle is a team that doesn't rely solely on its QB to win.

Plus, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll doesn’t see the Wilson regressing.

“He had a great year, it’s a challenge in itself to come back and have a better year," Carroll said, “His mindset is excellent and so is his preparation, his habits, his concerns and his focus.”

Wilson might struggle re-adjusting in the first three or four games, but he isn't going to fall into a sluggish sophomore season. The young quarterback is in complete control of a team that has added even more talent and depth in the offseason.

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