Five weeks into the 2019 NFL season, the makeup of quarterbacks at the top, middle, and back end of certain rankings has taken on a vastly different picture than at least the one we could have imagined, if not what we expected. No matter what list you’re looking at though, there’s a good chance that Russell Wilson is not only in the top three, but he’s easily the oldest one near number one.
How quickly he’s aged.
Wilson’s 126.3 passer rating is more than 10 points higher than second-place Deshaun Watson, while Patrick Mahomes sits in third place and Dak Prescott in fifth. You’ve probably noticed then that four of the top five are black quarterbacks, while Kyle Allen, fourth in passer rating, replaced a black quarterback in Carolina. I’ve already heard the overtures about “Why even make it about race?” as if being racially aware makes a person racially motivated or that I have to make some point about culture. But it’s not about culture — or at least it doesn’t have to be — it’s about football.
If you’ve been following me on Field Gulls for the last 10 years, then you know I’ve written several times about black quarterbacks and the historical significance of giving them opportunities to play the game’s most important position. Every step along the way was important, including in the 90s going from Randall Cunningham in Philadelphia to Michael Vick at Virginia Tech to eventually Russell Wilson transferring from NC State to Wisconsin and Kyler Murray becoming the number one overall pick.
Not only are there nine starting black quarterbacks as of this writing (which is more than we had ever seen total leading into the 21st century) but the only one who isn’t in the top 18 for passer rating is Murray and the only one not in the top 20 for QBR is Teddy Bridgewater. And as you’ve seen, pretty much all the candidates for MVP right now are black quarterbacks.
That’s not where Wilson stands alone at this point. No, instead, it’s his age that sets him apart. Wilson is now the only over-30 quarterback having a really significant, MVP caliber season.
Mahomes, Watson, and Prescott are all 26 or younger. Allen replaced Cam Newton for the Panthers. Bridgewater replaced Drew Brees for the Saints. Gardner Minshew replaced Nick Foles for the Jaguars. Allen and Minshew are outplaying the starters, while Bridgewater’s undefeated as a starter — though we don’t yet have reason to suspect that Brees’ time as an elite quarterback is over.
The only other QBs in the top 10 for passer rating who are over 30 are Matthew Stafford (31, 8th) and Kirk Cousins (31, 10th), who are the same age as Wilson and clearly in a class or two below him. Wilson is third in QBR, Stafford is seventh, while Tom Brady sits at ninth (42 years old) and Matt Ryan (34) is tenth and really struggling overall it seems.
Brady’s seemingly been good in four of his five starts and the Patriots are 5-0, but the Bills played him as well as any defense ever has and his overall numbers are down. For now, New England is set to have a more difficult schedule than they’ve already had, which is considered to be one of the easiest opening five game slates in league history.
Ryan is tied with Josh Allen and Jared Goff for the lead in interceptions.
Ben Roethlisberger is on injured reserve.
Philip Rivers is 20th in rating, 15th in QBR for the 2-3 Chargers.
Eli Manning got Daniel Jonesed.
Joe Flacco is still Joe Flacco but with worse coaching.
Aaron Rodgers is 22nd in rating, 14th in QBR.
Quite literally every starting quarterback in the league that you can think of who is older than Wilson, who you believe had an argument that they are better right now than Wilson, does not have that argument anymore. Brady and Brees are the closest thing, it would seem, to being able to change that over the course of the next 12 weeks, but Wilson looks to be at least a lap ahead of anyone who entered the league before he did.