Originally written on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 11/25/12
Rookie Showdown The Seattle Seahawks travel to Miami to take on Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins this Sunday. It is the first match up with a fellow rookie quarterback in Russell Wilson‘s young career. However, both have varied results in their initial campaigns. Wilson has led the Seahawks to a 6-4 record and put them in contention with the 49ers for a playoff spot. Meanwhile, Tannehill and the Dolphins are sitting at 4-6 and currently amidst a 3-game losing streak. Coming off of a bye-week after a convincing victory over the New York Jets, the Seahawks seem to be the easy favorite in this match up. Unfortunately, we all know how the Seahawks tend to fair on the road. Here is what I’m watching for this Sunday. Which Rookie Will Step Up? In the 2012 NFL draft, Ryan Tannehill was taken with the Dolphins 8th overall pick. He was a highly touted quarterback with assumptions of starting immediately at the professional level. Russell Wilson was a scrutinized, “under-sized” QB with a beyond-impressive college pedigree that was taken by the Seahawks 67 picks later. Wilson will be going off against Tannehill on Sunday morning. (Photo: Seahawks.com) Tannehill was eventually awarded the starting job in training camp, while Wilson earned his position as the starting QB by out-performing the recently brought in Matt Flynn. Thus far Wilson has been the more impressive of the two and is running a close second to RGIII for rookie of the year. With 15 touchdowns, a completion percentage of 62.1 and a quarterback rating of 90.5, the Wisconsin product has numbers that greatly outweigh his Texas A&M opposer – who has only 6 touchdowns along with 11 interceptions and a quarterback rating of 70.8. Although taken two rounders later, Wilson has been the stud thatPete Carroll believed he could be, and look for him to continue his success in Miami this Sunday. Overcoming Road Woes Wilson has statistically been the best quarterback in the league at home – 11 touchdowns to 0 interceptions – but his success on the road has been another story – 4 touchdowns to 8 interceptions. While Wilson has struggled, the remainder of the team has done little to provide assistance. Aside from Marshawn Lynch, the Seattle offense has been non-existent when traveling. The passing game has struggled due to lack of protection, dropped passes and errant throws from the rookie quarterback. This week the Seahawks are in luck – they will be facing the league’s 27th-ranked pass defense. With the amount of time Wilson dedicates to studying tape and improving his game, I cannot wait to see the improvements he will make over a week-off. Preventing the Wake In order for any offense to succeed, they need to protect their quarterback. This is especially true for the Seahawks. Wilson is an incredible athlete and tends to use his feet to avoid trouble. While he is surprisingly accurate on the run, he often utilizes this ability more than necessary. Although it has improved, Wilson’s tendency to leave the pocket early has been a common occurrence all season. As of late he has learned to step up in the pocket and rely on his offensive line to continue plays. Blocking Cameron Wake will be key for this to be successful. Cameron Wake is the Dolphins sack-leader and number 5 in the league with 9.5 sacks. The Penn State product has had a successful career in pursuing the quarterback, and stopping him must be a focus for the offensive line. Showtime Tate If you follow Russell Wilson or Golden Tate on Instagram, you will realize the strength of their relationship. They are always together off of the field, and their chemistry is shown on the field. Tate and Wilson have developed quite the relationship in their first year together. (Photo: Elaine Thompson/ AP) Tate has truly blossomed in his third year, with 334 yards on 26 receptions and 6 touchdowns. 3 of those touchdowns have come in the last two weeks, and he even threw for one toSidney Rice in their last game against the Jets. Both Rice and Tate have had impressive years considering their quarterback’s experience, and the passing game will only succeed as far as these two will take them. 3rd Down The Seattle defense has been beyond impressive in their 2012-2013 season. They have an intimidating secondary with a solidified rush defense and – finally – a pass rush in Bruce Irvin and Chris Clemons. Yet, for some reason, they have been unable to figure it out on third down. Third down is the most crucial of downs, and often decides the outcome of the game. On this down, opposing quarterbacks have an average QBR of 63.1 with 3 touchdowns and a completion percentage of 61.5. While this is an area for concern, it will likely be improved in week 12. Tannehill has struggled mightily on third down, a breath of fresh air for the Seattle defense. He has 1 touchdown with 6 interceptions, to go along with 4 sacks and a QBR of 41.3. The team must utilize this down and pressure the young quarterback. If they succeed in doing so, mistakes will happen. Good mistakes. CLICK HERE CHECK OUT THE SEAHAWKS BLOG IN OUR CLUBHOUSE AT NWSB!
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