Rams can't afford to fall asleep in Seattle with Russell Wilson running around

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Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson scrambles during an NFL football game against the Washington Football Team, Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Mark Tenally)
Even at the age of 32, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is a threat to run if the pocket collapses. (Mark Tenally / Associated Press)

The Rams are only a few days removed from helplessly allowing Kyler Murray to dissect them as a passer and runner.

Now, here comes Russell Wilson.

Long before Murray and other next-gen mobile quarterbacks took the NFL by storm, Wilson established the template.

The Seattle Seahawks star, a Super Bowl champion and 10th-year pro, might not scramble as much at age 32, but he remains one of the league’s biggest challenges.

“Russell Wilson is his own breed,” Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris said.

Controlling Wilson will be among the Rams’ main objectives Thursday night at Lumen Field, where they will attempt to bounce back from a defeat to the Arizona Cardinals.

The Rams are 3-1 and 0-1 in the NFC West. A victory over the Seahawks (2-2, 1-1 in the NFC West) enables the Rams to exhale as they enter a long weekend. Another division loss puts them in danger of falling off the playoff pace.

Last Sunday at SoFi Stadium, the Rams had no answer for Murray. The top pick in the 2019 NFL draft showed his maturity, patiently finding weak spots in the Rams' pass defense and using his speed and smarts to elude would-be tacklers for key gains and big plays that sent the Rams to a 37-20 defeat.

“It’s still early in the season, so there are going to be hiccups,” Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald said this week, “but we can't afford that.”

Certainly not four days later against Wilson.

“This is a crazy-ass turnaround,” coach Sean McVay said of the short preparation window.

The Rams, already well-schooled in Wilson’s capabilities, probably will see him running familiar plays Thursday night.

In January, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll hired former Rams assistant Shane Waldron as offensive coordinator. Waldron never served as offensive coordinator in his four seasons on McVay’s staff, but he digested the scheme as tight ends coach and pass-game coordinator.

“I have a lot of respect for what [the Rams] do there and what Sean’s put together,” Carroll said, adding that Waldron has developed chemistry with the staff and players, especially Wilson.

“Philosophically, it was really easy for Russ to join in [with] what Shane has in mind and how we were going to put this thing together,” Carroll said. “Shane did a really nice job of helping the process and transition and choosing what’s the same and what isn’t and all of that.

“Those two guys have really complemented each other. ...There’s a nice chemistry and really good level of communication just like you hope to have.”

Though they are now competing against each other, McVay and Waldron remain close.

“It’s meant so much to my coaching career,” Waldron told Seattle reporters this week. “He’s helped me tremendously.”

But now Waldron is scheming against the Rams — with a seven-time Pro Bowl quarterback. Wilson is off to a typically efficient start. He has passed for nine touchdowns, with no interceptions.

In a 28-21 victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, Wilson escaped a rush to make a trademark spectacular play on a 13-yard touchdown pass to Freddie Swain. The victory was the 100th of Wilson’s career. He is the only quarterback other than Hall of Famer Peyton Manning to win 100 games in his first 10 seasons.

“He plays street ball,” Donald said. “He's been the same player as far as the things he's able to do, and get out of trouble, and make things happen with his feet or with his arms.

“So, you know what to expect from that standpoint. But at the same time, obviously him having those years in the league — understanding the game a lot more, and able to see certain things, and play better — you can see that as well.”

Wilson has several talented targets, including receivers DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. Former Rams tight end Gerald Everett has eight catches, one for a touchdown. Everett did not play against the 49ers because he was on the reserve/COVID-19 list, but Carroll has intimated that the tight end might be available Thursday.

Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey is expected to match up at times with Metcalf.

“He’s one of the really outstanding players in the league,” Carroll said of Ramsey, “and wherever he lines up or whoever he’s covering — you’re in trouble.”

Trouble also is an apt word for what the Rams’ situation will be if they leave Seattle without a victory.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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