By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — When it comes to speaking highly of the week’s upcoming opponent, nobody lays it on thicker than Bill Belichick. Even if the Patriots were set to play an 0-10 team that ranks last in every category, the Patriots’ head coach always finds areas and people to praise in the days leading up to their matchups.READ MORE: Massachusetts gas prices now at record high $4.60 a gallon
That is to say: Sometimes the praise is more sincere than others.
Yet on Thursday, Belichick was about as sincere as it gets when he was speaking about the greatness of Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. Arguably the greatest football coach of all time said that it’s hard to think of a player better than Wilson right now.
Belichick was asked in what ways Wilson puts stress on a defense.
“Everything. I mean, this guy’s a tremendous player,” Belichick said. “Honestly I think he’s, you know, in a way, maybe underrated by the media or the fans. I don’t know. But, I mean, I don’t really see anybody better than this player.”
This was, of course, not empty praise. Belichick went in-depth on why he feels Wilson is such a dangerous quarterback.
“He can do everything. He’s got, obviously, great leadership, play-making skills. He plays very well in the most critical situations in the game. His decision-making, running, passing — his passing numbers are extraordinary,” Belichick gushed. “You put them up against anybody since he’s been in the league — literally anybody — in almost any category, or in any category, really. His winning percentage is impressive. He’s there for every game, never missed a game. He’s got a great ability to do the right thing at the right time. He has tremendous vision and sees the field extremely well. I don’t think there’s a better deep ball passer in the league in terms of decision-making and accuracy. He attacks literally every inch of the field — you have to defend with him. The deep balls, the sidelines, his scrambles, his ability to get the ball to his play-makers in space.”
Belichick pointed out that Wilson has over 4,000 rushing yards and over 30,000 passing yards in his career. And while the Seahawks have a ton of offensive talent, Belichick credited Wilson for being the maestro.READ MORE: Coronavirus In Massachusetts: Today's Developments
“There are a lot of weapons there. I could go on and on,” Belichick said. “They have a lot of good players that are hard to handle when you put them all together, and it’s orchestrated by Wilson. They’re very, very hard to defend.”
Clearly, Belichick’s respect for Wilson is at the highest possible level. The fact that Wilson’s regular-season record vs. the Patriots is a clean 2-0 — with six touchdowns, zero interceptions, and 641 passing yards — no doubt contributes to that.
Yet for people not named Belichick, it’s truly difficult to think of “Russell Wilson” and the “New England Patriots” without immediately turning to the football-history-defining gaffe of throwing a goal-line interception to lose Super Bowl XLIX for the Seahawks in February of 2015.
It was a rather memorable play, after all.
Alas, one play does not define any player. And Wilson has performed at an MVP level since then. From 2015-19, he completed 65.4 percent of his passes for 20,106 yards and 159 touchdowns with just 42 interceptions. He also rushed for 2,116 yards on 412 carries, finding the end zone eight times on the ground. He’s even caught a touchdown, too, for good measure. He’s done all of that despite some deficiencies on the offensive line and varying levels of threats at receiver and running back.
Wilson was nearly perfect in his 2020 season debut last week in Atlanta. He completed 31 of his 35 passes for 322 yards and four touchdowns, while also rushing for 29 yards on three attempts.
Clearly, the Patriots will be facing a much tougher task this week in trying to limit Wilson this week than they did last weekend against Ryan Fitzpatrick. And according to Belichick, it’s about as tough a test as is possible in the NFL.MORE NEWS: Celtics core group makes their statement with series win over Bucks