As I watched Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson scramble, pass, and sprint all over the Redskins last night, the same thought kept going through my head: this guy is everything Robert Griffin III was supposed to be.
The athleticism. The pinpoint accuracy. The smarts. A quarterback who combines the elusiveness of Michael Vick with the arm of Aaron Rodgers. Rewind two years and these were the exact traits being used to describe Griffin, the Heisman Trophy winning second-overall pick, not Wilson. Now, with two-plus seasons of stellar play and a Super Bowl trophy on his resume, the football world is slowly realizing just how good Seattle's star quarterback is.
Despite all the praise being heaped on Wilson, the sports media sphere still seems relatively unified in their belief that Andrew Luck, not Wilson, is the NFL’s top young passer. But why? It’s a fair question.
Let’s look at the numbers.
In 37 career games, Player A has thrown for 60 touchdowns and 33 interceptions while completing 58.7% of their passes. He averages 6.95 yards per pass attempt, and has added 697 rushing yards and 11 rushing touchdowns on the ground. His career quarterback rating is 84.3, and his team has gone 25-12 during his time as a starter.
On to Player B.
In 36 career games, Player B has thrown for 60 touchdowns and 20 interceptions while completing 64.4% of their passes. They average 8.04 yards per pass attempt, and have added 1,237 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns on the ground. His career quarterback rating is 102.1, and his team has gone 27-9 during his time as a starter.
So, Player B gets the edge for completion percentage, yards per attempt, touchdown-to-interception ratio, quarterback rating, and rushing yards. He has a better career record than Player A, too.
Player B is Russell Wilson. Numbers don’t tell the whole story, you say? No problem. Wilson has a Super Bowl. He outgunned Peyton Manning by a 43-8 score while throwing to guys like Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin, and Jermaine Kearse. He’s 7-0 in career games against Manning, Brady, Brees, and Rodgers. Division championships? Check. Playoff wins? Check. Pro Bowls, charity work in the community, and a strong character? Check, check and check. What more could you want?
Don’t get me wrong, Luck is a great young quarterback. But there’s absolutely no reason for him to be crowned over Wilson as the gold standard of the NFL’s up-and-coming passers. Whether you look at numbers, individual accomplishments, or team accomplishments, Wilson has outperformed his peers – Luck included.
Why can’t the media seem to let go of this idea that Luck is the game’s best young gun? Because that was the script. Ever since Luck was in college, he was hailed as the NFL's next elite passer. This reputation followed him into the draft, through his uneven rookie season, and all the way up to today. Luck is well on his way to fulfilling that destiny, but here’s the thing: Wilson is ahead of him. He just wasn’t supposed to be, and the sports media world is being slow to fit our perceptions to reality. This is why Luck is being named an early candidate for the 2014 MVP award while Wilson is often still labeled an “effective game manager.” Go watch last night’s game again and tell me if you see a game manager.
Don’t just listen to me, though. Several NFL players have noted that while the sports media sphere remains fixated on Luck, another young quarterback might be even better.
Here’s what Broncos safety Chris Harris had to say after losing to Wilson’s Seahawks in September.
"He's the best quarterback we've played so far," Harris said of Wilson. "…Keep talking up Andrew Luck. Wilson is better than Luck. No question.”
Here is Ryan Clark echoing those sentiments after his team fell victim to Wilson’s magic last night.
“We got beat by, as far as I’m concerned this weekend, the best player in the NFL,” Clark said. “Russell Wilson made every play he had to for his team to win.”
Is Wilson the NFL’s best player? Absolutely not. Not yet, at least. But is he the game’s best young passer? Yes. He might just have to win back-to-back Super Bowls before we realize it.