Thursday, December 6, 2012

Russell Wilson's Big Strides Leading Seahawks to the Promise Land

Russell Wilson, the five-foot ten-inch rookie quarterback out of Wisconsin and a mere third round pick in last year’s draft, has progressed from a pre-season standout, into a rookie sensation. The former Badger signal-caller was the sixth quarterback taken in last year’s draft and after beating out ten million dollar free agent Matt Flynn for the starting job, has made big improvements every week. At the start of the season, Wilson leaned on the defense and running game to help lead the Seahawks to victories. But strong performances in recent games, capped off by two long touchdown drives late in the game against the Bears last week, make it clear that the tables have turned and it is now in fact Wilson leading the Seahawks to victories.

Hardly anybody has been able to catch Russell Wilson this season.

As of late, the defense has regressed somewhat and the running game has slowed down. Marshawn Lynch has had back to back games without 100 yard performances, and the defense seems to have lost a little bit of its edge and speed it had in the first few weeks of the season. That has left the slack to fall on Wilson, and he has responded greatly, throwing nine touchdowns and zero interceptions in his last four games. This combined with a 67% completion percentage over these four games has led to three Seahawk wins in those four weeks, with a disappointing loss against the lowly Dolphins. This resurgence in the Seahawks passing game has even put Wilson in the national spotlight, getting headlines on ESPN for the first time since the Hail Mary at the end of the Packers game. 

This hot streak by Wilson, and the national recognition that has followed, has led many people to finally realize how strong his stats are. Some even say he has entered the offensive rookie of the year conversation with Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. There are two main stats to measure performance of a quarterback. Those two being passer rating and Total Quarterback Rating (QBR). Passer rating is simply a compilation of passing yards, touchdowns, and interceptions, while QBR takes difficulty of throws, situations, and other such factors into account. While passer rating is not a perfect indicator on performance, it is good to note that Wilson has moved into seventh in the league in passer rating, ahead of guys like Matt Ryan, Matt Schaub, Drew Brees, and Andrew Luck. Total QBR is not a perfect stat either, but Wilson ranks eleventh in that category, putting him ahead of Brees, Matthew Stafford, and Josh Freeman. All of these quarterbacks have more experience in the league than Wilson, which makes Wilson’s accomplishments even more impressive.

Russell Wilson has a higher passer rating and QBR than legendary QB Drew Brees.

The most important statistic of all however, is wins. Wilson has done a good job of helping the team to victory, leading us to a 7-5 record thus far in the season. Note that this is only one less win than Andrew Luck’s Colts, but one more win than RGIII’s Redskins. Clearly wins can be attributed to more than just quarterback play, but Wilson’s play has been a key component in the victories of the season so far. At this moment, the Seahawks would be in the playoffs as the six seed, which is due in large part to Wilson’s play and I believe if he continues to play at such a high level, then the Hawks could potentially make a run at the division title (a more in depth discussion on playoffs will come after this weekend’s games). However, the Hawks would probably need to win-out to do that. For now, Wilson and the team need to focus on improving every week, and I think that with continued development, Wilson can become a top-tier and elite quarterback in the very near future.

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