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Vikings Wary of Russell Wilson's Varied Skills


EAGAN, Minn. – Patrick Peterson may be with a new team, but he's plenty familiar with the challenge he and the Vikings will face Sunday in Russell Wilson.

Since the Seahawks drafted Wilson in 2012, he and Peterson have played each other 17 times in the regular season – twice a year, with the only exception being a missed game by Peterson in 2019.

Peterson said it's always a fun battle when he has the opportunity to play against Wilson.

"There's greatness in front of you whenever you line up across from a guy like that," Peterson said.

In fact, Peterson said Wilson is likely the toughest quarterback he's faced in his 10-plus NFL seasons.

"He presents so many different skill sets," Peterson said. "Yeah, you might get a bunch of sacks on them, but the time he is running around, you're holding your breath. Because you've seen it so many times.

"The guy, he's a winner. He always has his team in position to have success," he continued. "He's been in the playoffs almost every year of his career. That's a recipe for a successful career, especially as a quarterback, to make the playoffs each and every year."

Peterson noted that Wilson has managed to create success even in tough situations, such as the past five seasons in which Wilson was among the top five most-sacked quarterbacks.

"Russell speaks for himself," Peterson said. "His ability to extend plays and put his offense in the best position possible. We'll have our hands full again with a mobile quarterback like we did last week [with Kyler Murray]. Just have to make sure we're disciplined in our rush lanes and on the back end make sure we're plastered in our coverages."

Vikings safety Harrison Smith has played Wilson seven times since being drafted by Minnesota in 2012. He's been on the wrong end of every game.

"Yeah, it's not ideal," Smith said. "He's made some great plays in those games, so he's a big part of that success.

Vikings Assistant Head Coach/Co-Defensive Coordinator Andre Patterson also has ample experience against Wilson. In Patterson's time in Minnesota under Head Coach Mike Zimmer, the Vikings have played the Seahawks four times in the regular-season, including 2018, 2019 and 2020 – all three of which were in Seattle.

"We might as well be in their division," Patterson quipped. "Fortunately, we get him in our great place this time … so hopefully that gives us an edge."

Patterson called Wilson "one of the best quarterbacks in the league" – and it's difficult to pinpoint one thing he's best at.

"He's great at throwing the ball, he knows where to go with the ball," Patterson said. "He manages their whole offense – he runs the whole thing. A lot of it is no-huddle. He can escape when he wants to."

While 32-year-old Wilson doesn't scramble quite as much as the 23-year-old version of himself, Patterson and Co-Defensive Coordinator Adam Zimmer know full well that Wilson can still extend plays when he needs to.

"He knows how to get out, and he knows how to make plays with his feet," Patterson said. "And he knows how to get on the edge and still make big plays down the field. He's a tremendous challenge for us."

Not to mention, Wilson has the ability to appear contained only to come out unscathed and throw downfield.

"When he needs to, he's gonna run, and he's done it against us in the past," Zimmer said. "We had him sacked one time and ran out for a 40-yard gain or something up there, so he still runs when needs to.

"He's a tremendous deep-ball thrower," Zimmer added. "Him and [Tyler] Lockett and [DK] Metcalf, they've done a nice job developing that chemistry on the deep balls."

Through just the first two games this season, Wilson has thrown touchdowns of 63, 68 and 69 yards. He also has completions of 27, 30 and 51.

Wilson leads all quarterbacks with a 146.9 passer rating this season. If he continues that pace against the Vikings Sunday, he can surpass Tom Brady (141.8 rating in 2007) for the highest passer rating by a player through his team's first three games of a season in NFL history.

"He had a throw, I think it was against Indianapolis, and he had pressure in his face, and I don't even know how he knew where the receiver was," Patterson said. "He threw it up and hit him on a dime. Thirty, 40 yards down the field, he's one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the league."

The Vikings are spending this week prepping for the dynamic QB, but they understand there's only so much they can do to ready themselves. At the end of the day, Wilson's opponents have to expect the unexpected.

"You try to do the best you can … but you don't have that guy on your team. And you definitely don't have him on your practice squad. That makes it real difficult to [prepare for him]," Patterson said. "And the best thing you can do as a coach is show them on film what he does, where he likes to go, how he likes to get out, what he does when he's outside, what he does when he goes inside, and what's the best way that we can do the best job we can to keep him in the pocket?

"It's very difficult to do, but it's our job on Sunday to do the best job of it we can," Patterson added.