As I watched Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson scramble and pass all over the Washington Redskins last night, the same thought kept going through my head: this guy is everything Robert Griffin III was supposed to be.
The other-worldly athleticism. The pinpoint accuracy. The quarterback who combines the elusiveness of Michael Vick with the rocket arm of Aaron Rodgers. Go back two years and these were the exact traits being used to describe Griffin, the Heisman Trophy-winning Baylor star, 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 quarterback is.
Despite all the praise being heaped on Wilson, the sports media world is still largely unified in their belief that Andrew Luck is the NFL’s top young passer. But is that the case? 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. He averages 8.04 yards per pass attempt, and 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. This is the point in the conversation where some would say numbers don't tell the story. About that: 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. He's got it all.
To be sure, Luck is well on his way to fulfilling his destiny as an elite quarterback. But here’s the thing: Wilson is ahead of him. He just wasn’t supposed to be, and we've all been 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.”
Here’s what Broncos safety Chris Harris had to say on the matter 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.”
Redskins' safety Ryan Clark echoed 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? Not yet. But is he the game’s best young passer? You bet. He might just have to win back-to-back Super Bowls before we realize it.