Russell Wilson on staying cool under pressure

When asked about Russell Wilson a week ago, fellow young phenom quarterback Andrew Luck’s first observation about Wilson was this:

“Oh my gosh, he’s a phenomenal playmaker when things go south,” Luck said. “NFL arm strength, he can make every throw, you see him spinning out, running backwards, and chucking the ball 70 yards down field in stride to someone running, which is incredibly impressive. So, when things sort of go south or guys run free, his ability to extend plays and make something happen is very impressive.”

And sure enough, as he had been in Houston the week before, Wilson was often at his best against the Colts when the play broke down. That’s a nice trait to have for any quarterback, but especially one playing behind an injured offensive line, as Wilson has been the past couple of weeks, and will continue to do with tackles Breno Giacomini and Russell Okung recovering from injuries (center Max Unger, who has missed two games, is expected back this week).

On Thursday, Wilson was asked what the key is to remaining cool under pressure. Here’s how he explained it:

“I think the lord kind of blessed me with that first of all,” Wilson said. “But I truly believe that just through experience, I played professional football and professional baseball, and to have those two big things in my life, then I think about all the things I went through with my dad passing away, and also trying to graduate early and having all those things on me all at once really prepared me for those situations.

“And at the same time, I’m a self motivator, I want those moments. I think about last week with a minute, 55 seconds, I want the ball. There’s nothing more I could ask for in that situation. And you’re going to win some and you’re going to lose some, but at the end of the day, I never shy away from that moment. That’s the thing that I want. The biggest thing for me is just trying to be a leader in the huddle, help the other 10 guys in the huddle play at a higher level, and when the game’s on the line, just be clutch.”

Asked if he ever gets flustered but doesn’t show it, Wilson said, “No. I don’t remember the last time I was ever flustered, to be honest with you. The biggest thing for me is I stay composed. I know that I’m still really young. It’s my second year in the league, I’m just starting, so it’s one of those things where I understand that there’s a process to learning the whole thing. The game’s not easy. Playing in the national football league, everything’s not going to be perfect. You have to understand that they have great players too. So when you understand that, when you understand playing in the moment and being in those situations, you learn from them and you grow from them, whether it’s good or bad. It’s one of those things where you use each situation, you try to understand it the best you can and just relax and just trust what you’ve been practicing all week, trust your visualization, trust your fundamentals. That’s the thing I go to. There’s two things I go to really, in terms of playing in a game. I find a spot in the stadium just to bring me back to zero, just to make me relax or whatever. If I feel like I’m doing really well or not doing so well, it’s like, ‘hey, just play the game even keel.’ The other thing I do is just focus on the fundamentals. Focus on the fundamental of my footwork, focus on the fundamentals of the protections and all of that, and at the end of the day that’s what it is, because I know I’ve prepared the right way, so that’s what helps me play and what helps me stay relaxed in those moments.”

Asked to elaborate on the part about having a spot in the stadium to focus on, Wilson said, “I can’t tell you where, don’t ask.”

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