By Dayna O’Gorman // @DaynaOG
As they always do this time of year, we are being inundated with opinions. The arguments over end of season awards, conversations regarding which team most improved, which teams took the biggest step back. Yet every year, since the end of the 2012 season, there is one thing most reporters and media members can apparently agree on.
That Russell Wilson is one of the best quarterbacks in the league, yet chronically underrated.
Anyone who reads my articles or listens to the Our Turf Football Podcast knows I’m not a huge fan of quarterbacks. Its always been my observation that they get more credit for wins than they deserve, yet rarely have the burden of being responsible for defeats. However, today I put my “defense lover” hat away and focus on the one player that has been the cornerstone for Seattle’s string of successes.
Everyone knows his story. Taken in the third round of the 2012 draft, arguably one of Seattle’s best drafts in its history. Brought in to compete with QB Matt Flynn who the Seahawks had just paid a king’s ransom to. Wilson, in all his #NoTimeToSleep glory, won the starting job by the third preseason game and has never looked back.
Since becoming the Seahawks franchise QB, his consistency year to year has been remarkable. He’s started every single game, 112 not including the playoffs. His rating at the end of each regular season has never been lower than 92, being over 100 four out of seven years. His completion rate in the mid 60s or higher. His interception rate is less than 2%.
I could continue to list statistics, but what most people want to know is how does he compare to other elite QBs in the league? His stats are almost identical to Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Drew Brees in almost every category except two, and they both have to do with running.
Russell Wilson with the slick escape ?
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) December 24, 2018
Wilson is known as an escape artist. He has the ability to extend plays that many other quarterbacks don’t have. He runs for first downs almost as well as any running back and does it regularly. If we look at those stats, the other QBs don’t just pale in comparison, they vanish.
The number of yards Drew Brees ran this season? 22. Brady? 35. Only Aaron Rodgers comes close to Wilson with 269 yards. If we are honest, Wilson had an off year in 2018. He “only” ran for 376 yards. Over his career, Wilson has averaged 522 yards a season.
The other category where Wilson differs from the above-mentioned quarterbacks is attempts and yardage. This again has to do with running, as in head coach Pete Carroll’s run-first system.
When Wilson first entered the league, the Seahawks had a “once in a decade” running back, Marshawn Lynch. This was perfect for a rookie QB, as it took a ton of the pressure off of him and gave him time to really learn the system.
Carroll believed that a good team had to have a solid to great run game to have a successful team. His theory was proven right when in Wilson’s second and third year in the league, the team went to the Super Bowl, winning one of the two.
That theory has stayed in Seattle even after Lynch left the team. Ignoring the year when Wilson was the team’s top rusher, the Seahawks have always tried to run the ball as much as they throw it. This has had an effect on Wilson’s statistics. A QB with a great run game will always have fewer attempts and therefore, less yardage.
Wilson has averaged just over 3600 yards a season. Brady, Brees, and Rodgers traditionally throw about a 1,000 more yards a season than Wilson. This is a stat that is often used as a negative toward him. He doesn’t throw enough. It’s illogical to me to count something that makes the team well rounded as a knock against its QB. Let’s be honest, no one talks about the great Packer run game.
Every Russell Wilson TD Pass from 2018
✅ 35 TDs (13 left, 8 middle, 14 right)
✅ 12 TDs off of play action
✅ 7 “out of structure” TDs pic.twitter.com/CCwKKOW0kc
— Parker Lewis (@ParkerLewisJR) January 2, 2019
What’s my point? He deserves more respect than he often gets. Wilson, whom the media always throws out there as a candidate for MVP, who has set records all over the NFL, who the Seahawks have built this team around, is still underrated in the league and with some fans. We often hear things like “but the defense”, “but the yardage”, etc when it comes to conversations about him being elite. The media loves him, praises him, but then often forgets him at the end of the year.
Whether fans, media, or even some players want to admit, WIlson is a leader on this team and has proven he deserves the word elite to be attached to his name. Is he perfect? Lord no, but what he has been is consistent and within that consistency, has been a great quarterback. He may not fit the mold people expect from QBs in the league, but that hasn’t affected his impact.
This defense loving gal is ready to admit that Russell Wilson is the most important player on the Seahawks roster and, to me, he is the MVP of this year’s team. I truly hope he stays in Seattle for a long time.
Follow Dayna on Twitter // @DaynaOG