Doug Baldwin-Russell Wilson connection strong for Seahawks

"We butt heads at times because we want things to be perfect all the time," Doug Baldwin said of he and Russell Wilson. "That's made for a great relationship in terms of building each other up and making each other the best that we can be."

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RENTON, Wash. -- Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin has no trouble recalling a time early in Russell Wilson's career when he tested the quarterback's patience.

"His rookie season, we were at Chicago, and we’re at the line of scrimmage in a two-minute offense," Baldwin said. "And I’m yelling at him to get the play out while we’re at the line. He looks over at me, and he gave me this look -- I’ll never forget it -- that was like, ‘I got this.’ And at that moment, I was like, ‘OK, he’s got it.’ We still push each other, still hold each other accountable in a number of ways, but that moment was when we kind of forged together in the same direction."

The pair's connection has never been stronger than that of this season. When Wilson has targeted Baldwin, he has completed 55 of 67 passes (82.1 percent) for 776 yards and eight touchdowns. Baldwin has a chance to be the first player since at least 1992 (when targets were first tracked) to post a 1,000-yard season while catching at least 80 percent of the balls thrown his way.

And over the past four weeks, no player has more receiving yards (433) and touchdowns (six) than Baldwin.

The relationship between Wilson and Baldwin is constantly evolving, and the wide receiver admits they have had their share of battles.

"Russell and I, we’re highly competitive, and we’re perfectionists," Baldwin said. "We butt heads at times because we want things to be perfect all the time. And that’s made for a great relationship in terms of building each other up and making each other the best that we can be. I’m thankful for his resolve and his resilience and his work ethic, because he teaches me a lot on a day-to-day basis. And he obviously makes this team a lot better."

The Seahawks have been a run-first offense during their recent stretch of success, and even this year, with Wilson excelling from the pocket, no team is averaging fewer pass attempts (29.4) per game. And the passing game has been unconventional. Many of the big plays Wilson has made through the years were the result of his improvisation. Indeed, there's more to playing wide receiver in the Seahawks' system than running the route, turning around and catching the ball.

Baldwin admits there have been periods of frustration.

"When you come here as a wide receiver in the NFL, there’s other guys that have put up 1,200, 1,300, 1,400, 1,500 yards, and you want to compare yourself to them," he said. "That’s just natural. Any competitor’s going to do that at first. But once you get into the system, and you realize that you’re not going to have the opportunity to do that just because of the sheer volume, or lack thereof, you try to find other things to measure yourself by."

Cornerback Richard Sherman is one of Baldwin's biggest supporters. When told that Baldwin has been the most productive receiver in the league over the last four weeks, Sherman rattled off his buddy's stats from memory.

"If he’s in a featured passing [offense] where the quarterback passes the ball 50 times a game, you could see him with 70, 80, 90 catches, over 1,000 yards and 10 to 12 touchdowns," Sherman said. "I think he’s top five in touchdowns now, and I’m sure he’s probably the lowest-targeted guy on that list. You kind of look at that, not many people pay attention to it, but that’s difficult to do in this offense, because we’re a run-first [offense], run it 33, 34, 35 times and maybe pass it 20, 25. Within that 25, it can go to any guy. He’s finding his way within this offense because Russell is doing a great job."

Baldwin has piled up 760 yards from the slot, tops in the NFL. He insists that he's not doing anything differently on the field, and Baldwin's coaches and teammates back him up. With four games to go, he's on pace to set career highs in receptions and yards. He already has posted a personal-best eight touchdowns.

While his training, film study and route running have remained consistent over the years, Baldwin said his approach has changed.

"The only difference is I care less," he said. "Not in a bad sense. I’ve just stopped worrying about what the game plan looks like, how many targets I’m going to have in a game, all the stuff that would distract me from just having fun out there on the football field. It’s allowed me to be less stressed and enjoy my teammates more. Just go out there with a loose mentality and have more fun.

"So that’s the thing I worked on in the offseason, is having the mindset that all this stuff is going to come to an end eventually. And it truly doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. So in the time that I have, just enjoy it for what it is, regardless of how many targets I have or what we’re called upon to do as receivers."

Asked what allowed him to embrace that approach, Baldwin said, "Time, I guess. When you’re in the system for as long as I’ve been and the role that I’ve been, you go through the roller coaster. You’re excited to be here, excited for the opportunities, then frustrated that you don’t get more. You might reach a point where you might think you’re fed up, and then you realize, it is what it is.

"I’m going to enjoy it and make the most of it. We talk about that on a consistent basis, because it is difficult. And it would be difficult in any situation."

Wilson seemed to notice the change.

"I think that he’s really clear," Wilson said. "Clear on who he is, clear on his approach."

Numbers from this post are courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information.