Jeremy Brevard-US PRESSWIRE
"We've come a long way in this country when we're comparing athletes not by the color of the skin, but by the size of their bodies." - Martin Luther King
One of the hardest things about not living in Seattle is having conversations with people about the NFL and the Seahawks. Our perceptions of other teams are often flawed, and people rarely know the real ins-and-outs of opponents. That's why we have "Ask [Team X]" fanposts every week, so that you can ask the real fans their opinions about their own teams.
That and because us Daddy's and Mommy's need a break from writing original shit.
I bring this up because the other day I had a conversation about Russell Wilson.
Other guy: "You guys are going to have to pay him, or you'll lose him."
Other guy: "He's getting paid 3rd round money while his backup is getting paid like a starter."
Me: "Yeah, well, that's the business. He's only a rookie."
Other guy: "Nah, you watch, he'll holdout."
And then I waste the next five minutes of my life explaining why that really would never happen. I agree that the situation is very unique, I don't honestly know if it's ever happened before - a team signing a free agent QB to a decent-sized contract and then drafting the guy that would go on to start instead - but I'd shudder to think that any player would renege in the second year of his rookie deal. He'd go from "Welcome to the NFL, rookie" to "Don't let the door hit you on the ass, dick." really quick.
So, you have some really mind-numbing conversations when you live out-of-state and deal with non-Seahawks fans on a regular basis. They don't know much about the Hawks, except that Russell Wilson is the starter, they wasted a bunch of money on Matt Flynn, and that Beast Mode run against the Saints was "super cool, number one!"
I think about Flynn from time to time. He probably never thinks about me, so I've definitely been more thoughtful than vice versa. I think about what happens if Russ plays the entire season and retains his job as starter or never gets hurt. The immediate reaction from the moment that Wilson won the job is that Flynn would have to go. I don't necessarily see it that way. As far as I see it, you have to be willing to commit "X Amount" of dollars to the quarterback position and we just happen to be paying that to our backup. Our starter is extraordinarily cheap right now (barring that highly-unlikely holdout) and Flynn gives you a top-end guy holding the clipboard. I think it's plenty important to use money wisely, and that some people would then expect that Seattle could put that $5-$6 million cap hit elsewhere, but why isn't it wise to have a good backup?
I really do want to see Flynn play at quarterback in the regular season for Seattle, I just don't think it should happen at the expense of Russ. He might not be great right now, but he certainly shows that Pete Carroll and John Schneider were dead-right on the potential. Wilson is so far posting the best numbers from a quarterback we've seen since Matt Hasselbeck in 2007, and just in case you forgot, he's a rookie. There's no way that you can watch Russ and then go watch Brandon Weeden, or Blaine Gabbert, or even Mark Sanchez and tell me that you don't see a difference. This guy gets it.
I'd be lying if I said that physical limitations don't still concern me from time to time, only because Wilson has made worrisome errors this season, but I will not give up before Wilson has a chance to show me that it was just a part of being a rookie. We forget now that it's not normal for players to come in and be great. Russ has come in and been pretty good, which probably puts him in the 90th percentile of rookie quarterbacks.
He's done things that we shouldn't have expected out of him. Now we've come to expect a lot more.
Which brings me to my point, comparisons are going to be made and the people have silently spoken that they want to know what Russ is doing as opposed to some other NFL quarterbacks! You didn't explicitly ask for it, but you're practically asking for it wearing that sexy little number. ;)
Here are some more sexy little numbers.
Russell Wilson after 8 games
129-of-210, 61.4%, 1,466 yards, 10 TD, 8 INT, 7 Y/A, 82.4 rating, 14 sacks, 36 rushes for 128 yards
"Nice season! Throw much? LOL!"
"No, coach told me not to."
It is a nice season though. To complete 61% of your passes for 7 yards per attempt should be hopeful that he can improve those numbers even more as the years and games go by. The most obvious QB that people point to for desired comp is obviously Drew Brees. And yes, the numbers are almost annoyingly similar.
Drew Brees after 8 starts
149-of-239, 62.3%, 1,524 yards, 10 TD, 8 INT, 6.38 Y/A, 80.6 rating, 23 rushes for 79 yards (6-2 record)
"Oh. My. God, Becky. Look at those stats."
In some ways Russ has been better, in some ways Brees has been better. In some ways Russ has been better than Drew Brees! Here's what Wilson doesn't want to do though: Be similar to Drew Brees in their next eight games.
The Chargers lost seven of their last nine games in 2002, and Brees was awful for a stretch of six games that saw him throw 2 TD and 7 INT for 6 yards per attempt. It's a reminder that you can be almost exactly as promising as Russell Wilson is right now, then also go into the tank. It's easy to forget that Drew Brees is a Hall of Fame quarterback and was also awful for an early stretch of his career to the point of San Diego drafting his successor only three years after drafting him.
We also can't ignore an important fact about Wilson that's not true about most quarterbacks. At least not until recently. 2002 was not Brees' rookie season, it was his second season. The Chargers lost nine straight games in 2001 and still wouldn't put Brees in over Doug Flutie. (Chargers don't give no shit about height, beyotch!)
A year on the bench can't be considered insignificant, even if it's now considered being a "slow learner." Teams have felt that after recent seasons by players like Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco, that a year on the bench is wasted time. They've got you under a rookie contract only for so long, and they're not willing to pay you millions of dollars to sit anymore. Wilson didn't have to start, he was under no pressure to do so, but he won the job and here we are. For a guy who wasn't given the benefit of a single regular season game to watch on the sideline, he's done pretty well. He's got the same numbers as what Drew Brees had in his second season, and first eight starts.
Hopefully not the same as his next eight.
Eli Manning's first 7 starts
92-of-188, 48.9%, 977 yards, 6 TD, 9 INT, 5.2 Y/A, 55.2 rating (1-6 record)
"Well as you can see, it sucks as it cuts."
"It certainly does suck!"
The reason that I did seven instead of eight is that this was Manning's rookie season and I thought that would be a better indicator than grabbing an eight game in his next season. As you can see, a two-time Super Bowl winner was also one of the worst rookies ever. These are Clausenesque.
Michael Vick's first 8 starts (Two starts as a rookie)
100-for-177, 56.5%, 1,167 yards, 4 TD, 2 INT, 6.6 Y/A, 79.46 rating, 49 rushes for 418 yards (4-4 record)
Wilson is not Vick, Robert Griffin III, or Cam Newton. They are different style quarterbacks. It really is profiling to say otherwise. Wilson is athletic, he has some get-up-and-go, he can escape a sack pretty wonderfully, but he's not much of a running quarterback.
He does appear to be a much better passer than Michael Vick.
Robert Griffin III
149-of-223, 66.8%, 1,778 yards, 8 TD, 3 INT, 8 Y/A, 97.3 rating, 16 sacks for 114 yards, 70 rushes for 476 yards and 6 TD.
Basically, it could go down as one of the best rookie seasons ever for a quarterback, if not the best. Cam Newton was pretty phenomenal last year, but threw 17 INT and completed a lower percentage of passes. (If RG3's numbers holds true) You know what I find funny? Look at the pass attempts for RW1 compared to RG3.
He doesn't throw much either, but he does more with his opportunities to throw and he's a phenomenal athlete on the ground. That's the difference, but it's not a slight against Russ that he's not Griffin. Nobody else is and the Redskins are going to finish the season very strong.
160-of-288, 55.6%, 1,971 yards, 8 TD, 8 INT, 6.8 Y/A, 74.6 rating, 18 sacks for 110 yards, 26 rushes for 143 yards and 3 TD. (Seven games)
The Colts are fourth in the NFL in pass attempts and they aren't shy about putting the team on the rookie's back. What other choice do they have? Indianapolis is interesting in that they are 4-3 and they beat the Vikings and Packers, but I don't think that they're very good. They also lost toe Jacksonville and the Jets. ('Lost toe' is a saying I just made up. It's like 'losing face' but much, much worse. As low as your toes.) However, if they can pull an upset or two, they could win an AFC Wild Card because the AFC South is just godawful outside of Houston.
120-of-203, 59.1%, 1,472 yards, 4 TD, 6 INT, 7.3 Y/A, 75.8 rating, 13 sacks for 118 yards, 18 rushes for 25 yards. (Basically, six games)
Definitely not a running quarterback, but I think Tannehill is proving doubters wrong at times. He doesn't look quite as raw as advertised and the Dolphins are 4-3. Mostly because of defense, but QB play hasn't been too terrible, Tannehill got out his first three interceptions in Week 1 against Houston.
The Dolphins are definitely one of the best six teams in the AFC and I can't believe it. That's just how bad the AFC has gotten and how good Joe Philbin has been as a rookie head coach.
165-of-299, 55.2%, 1,912 yards, 9 TD, 10 INT, 6.4 Y/A, 70.8 rating, 13 sacks for 81 yards, 13 rushes for 53.
Weeden has grown up a lot since his Week 1 implosion against the Eagles (0 TD, 4 INT, QB rating of 5.1). He's grown up by at least three or four years by my count. He's also improved his stats to the tune of 9 TD and 6 INT in his last seven games. There's steady improvement there (he wasn't much better in the upset over the Chargers though) but there's only a small window before he's in the twilight of his career.
What does this say about Russell?
Nothing. Wasn't that fun?
Different players in different systems with different offensive lines, coaches, receivers, homes, wives, girlfriends, and other pleasures I'll probably never know about. Wilson has had moderate success for the Seattle Seahawks and we can't say that he'd do the same in San Diego in 2002 or if Drew Brees would do the same in Seattle in 2012.
What we can say is that we're not doing too bad with Russ. Wilson's off to at least as good of a start as I would have ever predicted a few months ago. He's perhaps just not off to the start we've come to expect.
And that's kind of a good thing.
Follow Kenneth on Twitter. Drew Brees did it back in 2001 and never regretted it.