Ryan Michael is a guest author and creator of the website QuarterbackScore.Webs.Com. The following is all from Ryan:
In 2018, Russell Wilson led the Seahawks to a 9-7 record, threw only 8 first half touchdown passes in 16 games, lost 17-14 to a the Kirk Cousins-led Redskins squad, averaged under 5.0 YPA in two different games (12/17/17 vs. Rams, 12/24/17 @ Cowboys) and missed the postseason entirely. Meanwhile, Blake Bortles and Case Keenum reached Conference Championship games, as Nick Foles won a Super Bowl MVP doing something Wilson failed to do in his only opportunity—slay the legend of Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots in February.
You can spin a narrative quicker than Wilson spins to evade defenders in a collapsing pocket. If you’re familiar with my work, you already know where I stand. Russell Wilson is the NFL’s most underrated quarterback. Now six seasons into a HOF-caliber start to his career, the Seahawks quarterback finished 2017 as the NFL’s leader in a number of categories.
- No. 1 in touchdown passes (34).
- No. 1 in passing + rushing touchdowns (37).
- No. 1 in 4th quarter touchdown passes (19)—a new NFL record.
- No. 1 in percentage of offense accounted for (4,569 yards of 5,608 yards = 81.5%).
Some said he deserved MVP honors. I’d go with Brady, but that’s a conversation for another time. Others said he was just “okay”, but he was so much more. Where to rank Wilson has been a topic of conversation since his rookie year.
Nobody expected the 75th overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft to close out one of the most competitive quarterback seasons in recent memory with a higher passer rating and YPA average (100.0–7.9) than future Hall of Famers in the prime of their careers: Brady (98.7—7.6) and Drew Brees (96.3—7.7).
No Rob Gronkowski, Wes Welker, or Jimmy Graham to throw to—Sidney Rice was Wilson’s 2012 leader in receptions (50), receiving yards (748) and receiving touchdowns (7).
Funny, they said that other guy was the one who does “more with less.”
But we’re talking 2017, not 2012 and things have only gotten worse.
- Offensive Line ranked 26th in adjusted sack-rate (Football Outsiders).
- Rushing support that sans Wilson (586 yards, 3 touchdowns) averaged 3.3 YPC and produced 1 rushing touchdown—both would rank 32nd overall.
Overachieving has been one of the longstanding themes of Wilson’s career. He’s supposed to be too short, too mobile, too dependent upon his defense to find success at the quarterback position. Yet regardless of where he was drafted, who he throws the football to, or the cardboard cutouts of offensive linemen folding in front of him, Wilson has stood out as one of the best passers the NFL has seen since coming into the league, a period dominated by some of the strongest seasons ever produced by his future Hall of Fame peers (Manning, Brady, Rodgers, Brees and Roethlisberger).
Since 2012, Minimum 32 Starts, #RussellWilson ranks 2nd in the #NFL in YPA—above:#DrewBrees (3rd)#BenRoethlisberger (6th)#AaronRodgers (8th)#TomBrady (12th)#AndrewLuck (22nd)#NickFoles (24th)#DerekCarr (34th)— Ryan Michael (@theryanmichael) February 21, 2018
Chart via: @pfref pic.twitter.com/vGJA2b38lV
Outside of Peyton Manning, no quarterback has produced more yards per-pass than Wilson. In comparison to other quarterback’s on the list, where would you rank the cumulative caliber of Wilson’s offensive line and receiving corps?
Where would you rank Wilson’s support?
This poll is closed
Outside Top 15
Last July for Field Gulls, I broke down Wilson’s history of success against the Patriots: Outplaying Brady as a rookie in 2012, outplaying Brady on the Super Bowl stage, in defeat, Malcolm Butler pick included and standing alone as the only quarterback to defeat the 2016 Super Bowl Champion Patriots with Brady.
Defeating Championship teams has become a trend for Wilson.
In the Seahawks biggest game of the year: Sunday Night Football vs. the eventual Super Bowl Champion Eagles armed with a healthy Carson Wentz, Wilson delivered, arguably, his finest performance of the season:
20 of 31 (64.5%) for 227 yards, 3 touchdowns and 0 interceptions (118.6 passer rating)
How strong was Wilson’s performance?
So strong that it upped the 2017 Eagles allowed passer rating from 75.5 to 79.5 (+4.0). They finished the season ranked 9th overall, but would have ranked 4th overall had it not been for Wilson, whose 118.6 passer rating was +43.1 points higher than the cumulative allowed passer rating surrendered in their other 15 regular season games combined.
Here’s a thought: Rip Carson Wentz’s Super Bowl ring off his finger and give it to Wilson.
I’m kidding, of course. Wentz absolutely earned, and deserves recognition for his contributions towards the Eagles Championship season.
Heading into the 2018 season, where do things stand?
From an overall team perspective, Seattle has a lot of room to grow. It says a lot that despite Wilson having, arguably, the best season of his career (I’m partial to 2015), the Seahawks finished winning the fewest number of games of his career.
“Stats are for losers. Final scores are for winners.” —Bill Belichick
If that’s the measure, Seattle should look into trading Wilson for Nick Foles.
Ryan Michael is a Pro Football Analyst, Statistician and creator of the QBS2 system