Titans defense challenged by Russell Wilson’s ‘it’ factor

Titans defense challenged by Russell Wilson’s ‘it’ factor

All you need to know about the Seattle Seahawks offense and quarterback Russell Wilson is that he has “it.”

“It” is what the Tennessee Titans defense will have to guard against most on Sunday when Wilson and the Seahawks visit Nissan Stadium at 3 p.m.

“It” is hard to define, but all true franchise-type quarterbacks have “it.”

As best as “it” can be explained, quarterbacks with that quality have the so-called clutch gene, an ability to will their teams to wins even when the team or they themselves are not necessarily playing well or posting great statistics.

Perhaps the best way to quantify the “it” factor is by using fourth-quarter comeback wins. By that measure, Wilson has 18 of them in his career, which places him 11th among current NFL quarterbacks. OK, maybe that doesn’t sound all that impressive, until you consider that everyone above him on the list, has at least nine years of playing in the league. Tom Brady leads the list of active comeback wins with 39 (and is second all-time to Peyton Manning with 45). Of course, that is spread out over Brady’s full career, which is now 18 years long. Wilson, while at just under half that total, is just now entering his sixth NFL season. He guided a sluggish Seahawks’ offense to victory this past Sunday with a fourth-quarter score to defeat the 49ers.

Consider this, Wilson in those five-plus seasons already has more career fourth-quarter comebacks than Hall of Famers Roger Staubach, Joe Namath, Len Dawson, Bob Griese and Troy Aikman, just to name a few. And among his contemporaries, Wilson has more comeback wins than Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton, Andrew Luck and Kirk Cousins.

The Titans’ own Marcus Mariota has occasionally shown signs that he has “it.” Two games through his third NFL season, he has led four fourth-quarter comebacks.

“It” is why Wilson, with his run/pass combination and ability to pull victory from the jaws of defeat, creates such problems for opposing defenses.

“Being mobile isn’t the problem. It’s the good,” Titans defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said. “He’s mobile and good. There are a lot of mobile guys that aren’t that big a problem, but he’s a great player. He really won two Super Bowls, but they only got the ring for one of them. …

“You’re not going to shut these guys out. He’s too good of a player. He’s got too good of a record. … We’ve got a special challenge. This guy is good, and we know that.”

This will be the first time for LeBeau, even with all his years in the NFL, to face Wilson.

Linebacker Brian Orakpo, one of the Titans who will chase Wilson on Sunday, has seen enough from his preparation to know that Wilson is a special player.

“From what I’ve seen on film, the guy makes plays on his feet and keeps drives alive that’s the frustrating part,” Orakpo said. “He’s very elusive, and he’s been doing that throughout his career. He’s very special. He’s not your typical small quarterback.”

Titans coach Mike Mularkey knows the challenge his team will face as well, and that it will extend for the full 60 minutes on Sunday.

“He’s got uncanny ability to make plays all over the field. There’s not many guys like him, you’ve got to prepare a little bit differently for him,” Mularkey said. “You’ve got to be really, obviously very disciplined in your rush lanes. That may not be enough for him. I’m sure every team goes in with that mindset and you see the plays that he continues to make week after week. So, it’s a little different preparation for him than it is for most.”


Injury update

Running back DeMarco Murray did not practice again on Thursday, but Coach Mike Mularkey was confident that he could practice Friday and perhaps be able to play Sunday against the Seahawks.

“We’re hopefully going to get him out to practice tomorrow,” Mularkey said.

When asked if Murray has to practice Friday in order to play Sunday, Mularkey replied, “I think he’s going to practice, but we’ll see. I’ll make that decision. It’s not an ‘if, and, or but.’ We’ll make that decision Sunday by the time I have to.”

If Murray can’t play Sunday, Mularkey said he would confident in David Fluellen as the backup to Derrick Henry.

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1 Comment

  1. Joseph Newbern

    Out of all the QBs the Titans face this year, RW is the one I most fear. Derek Carr obviously did his job against us. Ben Roethlisberger is still very dangerous, but I believe his game is more easily contained than Russell Wilson’s. All the rest still have to prove they can stand the heat in that kitchen. #TitanUp


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