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Russell Wilson mobility figures to create problems for Raiders defense

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Oakland Raiders v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

The Seahawks run the ball really well. The Raiders don’t defend the run well. Or the dump passes. Or screen passes. Or jet sweeps. Or really anything short. Those plays have consistently turned into big plays. That’s where Russell Wilson thrives, making him a match-up nightmare for the Raiders.

“It all starts with the quarterback. You got to defend the play that Seattle calls and then you got to defend the play that Russell Wilson creates,” said Jon Gruden. “He gets out of trouble, he’s a magnificent playmaker.”

Rushing the passer has also been a real problem for the Raiders this season. They have just six sacks on the season which is tied for the fewest in the NFL. Wilson has been under pressure a lot in his career, and is adept as escaping that pressure and making plays.

If you get pressure outside, he will escape up the middle. If you get pressure up the middle, he will escape outside.

“He’s an extremely talented quarterback. Once he gets out of the pocket, that’s when he’s really dangerous,” said rookie Maurice Hurst, who has two sacks this season from the defensive tackle position. “He’s a great passer, very accurate, able to make a lot of big plays for their offense. Just someone that brings that mentality to their team and you got to try to contain that as much as possible.”

The Raiders’ best bet to keep him in the pocket and make him beat you with his arm. Which he can also do, as evidenced by his averaging over 4000 yards the past three seasons. Though the Raiders linebackers have been among the worst in the NFL at defending the pass too. Tahir Whitehead seems to have basically resigned himself to the fact that Wilson will find room to run and the Raiders won’t be able to stop him.

“Going against Russell is hard. No matter what you do, he’s always going to find those creases to get out on the perimeter to make those big plays and that’s what he thrives on,” said Whitehead. “That’s what gets their team going. As the defense you go in there with the game plan to keep him in the pocket, but you’re just…you can try your best but he always finds a way. On our part we really just have to do as best as possible.”

Wilson only has 42 yards rushing this season, but that doesn’t meant he isn’t a threat. He had 586 yards rushing last season, so he is a threat to break it at any time. His mobility is always about running the ball either. it’s about his elusiveness and his ability to create opportunities downfield by escaping the pocket.

“He’s a mobile guy. He can move around the pocket,” said Guenther. “He’s got good arm strength. He can get in and out of plays. He’s been a good player for a long time. it’ll be a challenge for us, for sure.”

Thus far this season, the Raiders have allowed 52 yards on 10 carries (5.2 yards per carry) and a touchdown to quarterbacks Case Keenum (16), Ryan Tannehill (26), and Baker Mayfield (10). None of whom are as mobile as Wilson.