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The Notebook: What makes Russell Wilson so good, unheralded pass rushers and more from Week 4

Former NFL defensive end Stephen White is back with his Notebook from Week 4. This week, a look at what separates Russell Wilson from other scrambling QBs, the rise of Barkevious Mingo and questions about the Buccaneers.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Russell Wilson is a magician.

We can talk about how other quarterbacks run with the football, but I am not sure any of them are better than Wilson at avoiding a rush, especially at crunch time. Sunday, with the Seahawks down 20-6 and only 8:24 remaining in the fourth quarter, they faced a fourth-and-three at the Texans' seven-yard line. The Seahawks elected to go for it. They ran a bootleg that called for Wilson to roll out to his right.

The Texans countered by sending outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus up the field off the edge for contain. This play by all rights should be a bust. The Seahawks should have had to turned the ball over on downs, and it likely should have led to a Houston victory. Wilson had other ideas. He suckered Mercilus into slowing down for just a half second and then gave ground, ran around him, and managed to gain just enough yardage on the play for the first down. Running back Marshawn Lynch scored a touchdown on the very next play. The Seahawks were right back in the game.



It only goes into the stat sheet as a four yard run, but that play is a perfect example of how much pressure Russell Wilson puts on his opponents, especially in crunch time.

Another week, another sack

Cleveland Browns rookie Barkevious Mingo has a sack in each of his first three games, including one Sunday, after missing a month because of a bruised lung injury that he sustained in the preseason. That feat is a Browns' record. With injuries to starting outside linebackers Quentin Groves and Jabaal Sheard his production has been right on time.

I wasn't sure how Mingo would handle the transition from college defensive end to NFL outside linebacker in a 3-4, but watching the film, the kid looks more like a veteran than a rookie so far. What was impressive to me was that not only did he show that his trademark pass rushing skills do translate to the NFL, but that he was also active against the run. He doesn't get pushed around for a guy who is somewhat skinny for the position. In fact, if he keeps playing like this, I am not sure the Defensive Rookie Of The Year voting will be close at all.

Being Geno

As much as I am sure Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith wants to win and play well, his primary mission this year in my opinion is to not be Mark Sanchez. Yeah, he can play poorly, and, yes, his team can lose. But what he can't do is become a laughing stock like Sanchez has the last two seasons. If he could just manage to show some improvement and avoid the "Not Top 10" Sportscenter moment, I was pretty sure sooner rather than later head coach Rex Ryan would go ahead and commit to Smith being the quarterback long term.

And then Sunday happened.

I am not quite sure what Geno was thinking when he tried to pass the ball to himself behind his back. He ended up fumbling the ball (of course) which was recovered by the Tennessee Titans for a touchdown.


What I do know is if he keeps thinking those kinds of thoughts then Jets fans as well as coaches will start asking themselves what difference does it make if Sanchez or Smith starts, because either way the team is going to lose and the quarterback is going to embarrass them.

Trust me, that would be the worst thing to happen to Geno's career. I hope he watches that film and gets an understanding that nothing like that can ever happen again. Even if it had worked, it would have been stupid and the Jets have had their fill of stupid.

Remember Mathis

For years in Indianapolis Robert Mathis was overshadowed by fellow defensive end Dwight Freeney. Everyone talked up Freeney's spin move and his blistering speed, but Mathis was always a damn good pass rusher in his own right. Over his 11-year career he has racked up 99 sacks so far. Unfortunately for him many fans would credit Freeney for that too, saying he was drawing all the double teams.

I never once heard of Mathis complaining about that public perception. What I have seen him do is just continue to work, evidenced by his three sacks Sunday against the lowly Jaguars. That gives him a grand total of 7.5 sacks through the first four games. And while I can see you right now, through the computer about to protest that almost half of his sacks came against the Jaguars, allow me to remind you that the Jaguars are in his division, which means he gets to go against them again later on this year. And guess what, you can't give credit for his sacks to Freeney this year because he is playing for the Chargers now.

What to do about Dalton?

Can somebody tell me the difference between Christian Ponder and Andy Dalton at this point? I'm not sure either guy deserves to still be starting for their team. We seem to focus on Ponder, while Dalton appears to be getting a pass. If there is an offense with more weapons than the Bengals have given Dalton, I haven't seen it yet. But the Bengals continue to find a way to underachieve on offense, and the primary culprit in my opinion is Dalton.

The question is what do the Bengals do at this point? I don't believe they will willingly move on from Dalton this season, and will give him every opportunity to step up to the plate. But what if he stays stuck in neutral? I'm not sure how this ends for him or the Bengals in that event.

The real Reggie

If Reggie Bush can stay healthy the rest of this season, I think we will finally see an extended version of the guy we thought we we would see coming out of USC. That guy is playing a different game than everybody else right now, and its the most fun I have had watching him play as a pro. Not so much fun for opposing defenses, like the normally stout Bears who gave up 139 yards rushing to him Sunday on only 18 carries. Forget a Pro Bowl bid, I can see Bush ending up in the MVP conversation by the end of the year if he keeps this up.


Does Seabass have a case of the yips?

Over the years we have become so accustomed to seeing Sebastian Janikowski make 55-yard+ kicks. Anything less than appeared to be a chip shot for him. So far this year, he has already missed three out of his eight field goals attempted, including the 52-yarder on Sunday against Washington. That puts him at 62.5 percent for the year, and the kick Sunday was his first from beyond 50 yards. This from a guy who hasn't hit less than 80 percent of his kicks since 2008. Perhaps it is the new holder he has working with him, punter Marquette King, or maybe he has another injury. Whatever it is, something is not right with Seabass right now. Considering their problems on offense that should be a major concern for the Raiders if it doesn't get fixed soon.

The Bills can't lose

I'm not sure how many people actually watched the fourth quarter of the Ravens game against the Bills but if the Bills had lost the league office might have had to launch a point shaving investigation. The Bills tried their best to lose that game but the Ravens just would not accommodate them.

Steeler spark

With the Steelers 0-4 I feel comfortable saying they won't make the playoffs this year. At the same time, I saw a spark from their offense with Le'Veon Bell in the game Sunday that I had not seen up until this point this season. The Steelers have always been built to run the ball and take shots down the field, but up until Sunday, the offensive line hadn't played well enough for them to be effective doing either. Bell looks to be the kind of back that doesn't need a lot of great blocking to consistently get tough yards. Gaining 57 yards on 16 carries isn't exactly a banner day, but he showed flashes of what he can do as he continues to try to get back to 100 percent coming off injury. The Steelers may have found their bell cow for the rest of the season.



The Bucs may not win a game

The Arizona Cardinals came into Sunday's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers having lost two outside linebackers the previous game, a safety who had lost part of one of his fingers in the previous game, and without the services of their starting nose tackle. During the course of the game against the Bucs they lost yet another linebacker to a head injury. And ... they still won the game. If there was one game on the Buccaneers' schedule that I would have marked as the surest win before Sunday, it would have been that game. I hate to say this, as a former Buc, but, I don't think they will be favored in another game the rest of the season.

Safety issues

What was the deal with Bruce Carter on Sunday? I'm not just talking about the two plays when he got torched by running back Danny Woodhead for receiving touchdowns. From the start of the game, it appeared that Carter was sleep walking even when he did make plays. He looked nothing like the player I'm used to seeing on film, one who is athletic and physical and, most of all, very active. He just didn't seem to have any gas in the tank even at the start of the game. I know there are reports that he had a foot injury during the game, but I'm not sure that quite explains what I saw. The Cowboys benched him for much of the second half. The difference Carter's play and how backup Ernie Sims flew around the field was pretty striking.

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