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Russell Wilson and Bill Barnwell's "Gang of Four"

Kent Nishimura

I've never been a big fan of playing the comparison game when it comes to Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin, and Colin Kaepernick. Would you trade Russ for Kaep? Who's the best? Who had the best year? Who's going to be the best this year? Who will have the best career? I just don't really care to expend much energy on that stuff. No one is trading any of these guys, and the Gang of 4 all had great seasons, that's pretty indisputable. Who had the best season? Who will have the best season? Well, there are about four million variables to argue about so obviously these are pretty tough questions.

It's been pretty heavily covered over the offseason by many highly-respectable analysts and writers, so while it's not really anything new, per se, I do think that Bill Barnwell's version from this morning was worth pointing out. For me, not necessarily for the comparison factor or trying to decide who is best, but just to revel in the almost absurd success that each of the four of them had, and to take in the idea that we could be seeing the beginning of four great (possibly legendary) careers.

Notable about Russ, per Barnwell:

[His] final 13 games should be about the only reason a 49ers fan might have trouble sleeping at night. If Wilson was really an overmatched third-round pick adjusting to the league over those first five games before he got the hang of things and stopped making the typical rookie mistakes, he's a nightmare with numbers that actually outstrip Griffin's.

Check out his splits from Weeks 1-5 and Weeks 6-18 in the article linked.

Barnwell continues:

The strength-of-schedule issue only makes Wilson's performance look stronger. While Luck played the easiest schedule in the NFL and Griffin played the third-easiest slate in the NFC, Wilson played a tougher schedule than any quarterback outside the NFC West. He was also just the fourth rookie quarterback since the merger to win a playoff game on the road, while his feverish comeback against the Falcons in the divisional round failed only on account of his defense. If the Russell Wilson who was torching the league at the end of the season is the guy we see in 2013, he's the best quarterback amid the Gang of Four.

Fuck, I wish the Hawks would have preserved that comeback, because honestly, that game would have been the stuff of legends. Sigh. Oh well. Football, and whatnot.

Anyway, the main reasons I brought up the article (which you should definitely read in full) were to point out the strength of schedule factor, which is cool, and to point out an interesting table that Barnwell included, which paints a pretty good picture of just how good of a 2nd half Wilson had, in case that point hasn't been completely hammered through your skull quite yet.

As Barnwell frames it, here are each of the four quarterbacks' statistics starting from Week 10, the point at which Colin Kaepernick became a starter for the Niners, through the end of the playoffs, prorated to a 16-game season:


9.3 YPA. Holy.

Honestly though, what's striking about this list is just how well all four of them played in 2012 - especially considering Andrew Luck's numbers are by far the worst (not saying he's the worst QB - far from it, but just shows how well the other three performed).

Barnwell talked to Danny O'Neil at 710ESPN Seattle this morning, and he expounds a bit on his article and talked about the upcoming season. Give it a listen.

More audio at