Russell Wilson is the best quarterback of his decade--and it isn't even close

The post title does need a caveat that "his decade" isn't referring to the 2010s. I'm referring to quarterbacks who entered the league in the ten year period 2006-2015.

It occurred to me recently that when we debate whether Wilson is better than this or that quarterback, we're basically never comparing him to someone who entered the league at about the same time. Because he's a lot better than anyone who entered the league at about the same time, so there just isn't much to debate. So I decided to look through more exhaustively to see if I was just missing anyone.

Nope. Here's the more detailed analysis. I'll mention everyone who made at least one pro bowl, as well as some other notables. By year:


Jay Cutler was often good enough that his team didn't feel the need to urgently replace him, but often bad enough to wish they could.

Can you believe that Vince Young made not one but two pro bowls, even with only 50 career starts?


No pro bowlers, and no one who was even close. The most career starts in that class was Trent Edwards with 33. Matt Moore had 32 after going undrafted. Not a good year to draft a quarterback.


Matt Ryan has had a nice career, and is likely the second best quarterback of this time period. He also has only three seasons with a quarterback rating that wasn't more than 7 points below Wilson's career average.

Joe Flacco isn't elite and never was. He also never made a pro bowl, though he did have a few good playoff runs.


Matt Stafford has had a decent career, especially if you love to see high volume on the stats sheet. He's also only made one pro bowl, and his rate stats are typically not that much better than league average.


No pro bowlers, and Sam Bradford was the only one to even be a starter for a large fraction of his career.


Cam Newton has been reasonably good at times. He also can't find any team that wants him to start now.

Andy Dalton has also had a decent career, but no one would ever mistake him for an elite quarterback.

Tyrod Taylor is the only one from this class penciled in to start anywhere this coming year, and he's been a backup for most of his career.


Andrew Luck was a reasonably good player during the six seasons that he played. But he never managed to live up to the hype and had his career derailed by injuries.

Speaking of injuries, Robert Griffin III sure looked like an elite player as a rookie. That was also his last good season.

Ryan Tannehill just had a great partial season. But the eighth season of his career was the first to make anyone think he really might be a franchise quarterback.

Nick Foles has had two remarkable but brief runs with the Eagles. He's also had three other teams give up on him within a year, with the Bears likely to bring that count to four this year.

Kirk Cousins has had a nice career, at least since the Redskins figured out that he ought to be playing rather than an injury-limited RG3.


Beyond merely no pro bowlers, this was a terrible year for quarterbacks, as well as a lot of other positions. The best of the bunch was probably either Mike Glennon or Geno Smith. Teams at least figured out that there weren't any franchise quarterbacks to be had, and EJ Manuel was the only one taken in the top 38 picks.


Can you believe that Teddy Bridgewater was a pro bowler in 2015? Nearly half of his career starts thus far came that year.

Derek Carr has actually started all but two games for the Raiders since they drafted him. And his play on the field has made people constantly wonder if the franchise needs to replace him.

Jimmy Garoppolo also entered the league this year, though no pro bowls for him.


Jameis Winston has had such a great career that exactly no one wanted him as their starter this coming season. Apparently no one wants a quarterback who throws a ton of interceptions.


Dak Prescott arrived in 2016, which is the real reason I cut the time period at 2006-2015. Even if you want to argue that Wilson is obviously better than Prescott, you can't extend the time period by more than a year, as Mahomes arrived in 2017. On the other end, Aaron Rodgers in 2005 is why you can't push the start back a year.

So my conclusions it that yes, Russell Wilson was the best quarterback to enter the league in the decade from 2006-2015, and it's not even close. If you want to dispute that, then who else could you argue has been about as good? Matt Ryan? Andrew Luck? Kirk Cousins?

At any given time, 3/4 of the league will have a guy that they want to believe is their franchise quarterback. A majority of them will change their mind soon. By my count, in that ten year time period, only 12 quarterbacks who entered the league went on to have an extended period of time where they were a starter: Jay Cutler, Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, Matt Stafford, Cam Newton, Andy Dalton, Andrew Luck, Ryan Tannehill, Russell Wilson, Kirk Cousins, Derek Carr, and Jameis Winston. And even several of those who are young enough that they should still be in their prime (I'm excluding Cutler and Flacco here) probably aren't going to be a starter this coming year, assuming it happens.