russell wilson

Stop Sleeping on Russell Wilson

I’ll admit it, sometimes I struggle when it comes to predicting sports. I once proclaimed that Jimmy Butler would be the MVP of the NBA for the 2018-2019 season. I am notorious for being a horrid fantasy sports player. I came in dead last in all of my March Madness pools. I get it, I have horrible takes, and I don’t hear the end of it from my teammates.

In saying that, there is one take that I will absolutely stand by for the foreseeable future: Russell Wilson is a top 3 quarterback in the NFL entering the 2019 season. I was compelled to write this piece because of the many mean names that were thrown my way by certain individuals for stating this take. Those people are all delusional, none of that matters to me, because I’m not backing down from it. Russell Wilson is a bonafide stud, and aside from Patrick Mahomes or Drew Brees, I’d take him over anybody else who is currently quarterbacking in the NFL. Now, I’m not going to sit here and argue that he’s necessarily one of the most talented QB’s, but when you combine all the intangibles, along with his performance on the field, you have a top three quarterback in Russell Wilson. His statistics back him up, he’s as clutch as a QB comes, he’s durable, and above all, he’s a proven winner. Could you ask for any more?

The Stats

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In finding my evidence, I compared Wilson’s 2018 statistics to five other QB’s who are usually universally agreed upon as being top 5 quarterbacks. Outside of the six players in the graphic, you really could only argue Philip Rivers and possibly Jared Goff deserve to be there, and even then it would be hard pressed to put them above any of the other six. Anyways, what stuck out to me in comparing these statistics was Wilson’s passer rating, which edged much closer to the upper echelon of Drew Brees and Patrick Mahomes than it did to Luck, Brady, and Rodgers. Out of those six, Wilson threw for the third most touchdowns (35) and only seven interceptions — good for a 5:1 touchdown to interception ratio, which is better than all but Rodgers and Brees.

Another common argument used to discredit Wilson was that all of his yards came off of short dump off passes in the flats. The reality is Wilson averaged 8.1 Y/A (yards per attempt), which is more than Luck, Brady, and Rodgers — and only .1 less than Brees who had a Y/A of 8.2. Aside from Wilson’s passing prowess, he is also, outside of MAYBE Mahomes, far and away the most athletic of the bunch. Wilson is a legitimate threat to run the ball if he gets outside the pocket, and that was proven by his 376 rushing yards in 2018, which was actually down from his career average of 575 rush yards per year.

Wilson has also proven time and time again that he can carry the offensive load when he needs to. In fact, during the 2017-2018 season, Wilson set an all-time NFL record by creating over 86% of his teams yards. That season he featured Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett as his prime recievers and Mike Davis and a fat Eddie Lacy as his runningbacks. Not a very lethal offense for Russell to work with. During the 2018-2019 NFL season, Wilson only accounted for 68% of the teams offense — down 18% from the year before. In saying that, the drop off was expected, as the Seahawks saw breakout performances by runningback Chris Carson and reciever Tyler Lockett. Wilson wasn’t expected to carry as much of the load, and because of that he was able to excel in other categories.

When it comes to statistics, while being compared to Brees, Mahomes, Luck, Brady, and Rodgers; Wilson places in the top three in most of the most noteworthy categories. He’s also proven that he can carry an offense on his shoulders if he needs to. Wilson is a beast, and the stats back it up.

Clutching Up

You cannot be a top tier quarterback in the NFL without having a clutch gene. When the lights are shining the brightest in the most important moments of the game, you have to be able to deliver. Russell Wilson has made it a habit of delivering in these big moments, and the numbers back it up.

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Sam Monson of ProFootballFocus (a football analytics website) breaks it down nicely. There was only one man more clutch than Russell Wilson between 2015 and 2017, and that was the GOAT Tom Brady. Wilson’s numbers didn’t dip in 2018 either, as Wilson added 4 more 4th quarter comebacks to his resume to bring his career total up to 27 fourth quarter comebacks.  He also had a passer rating of 110 in the fourth quarter, throwing for 10 touchdowns to only 3 interceptions. If we go back to the group of six elite quarterbacks from earlier, Wilson’s fourth quarter rating was higher than everyone but Brees, who topped out at 119.

The obvious disclaimer is that at the end of the day, fourth quarter comebacks and game-winning drives have a lot to do with the team around you. Hypothetically speaking, if you’re on a great team, you probably won’t need to make a comeback in the fourth quarter. If anything, the fourth quarter comeback statistic shows that Wilson can perform in emergency situations. So while Wilson may have many more fourth quarter comebacks than some of his elite quarterbacking peers, it more than likely has a lot more to do with the fact that his peers have better teams around them. Ultimately, this is a credit to Wilson for willing his less talented offenses over the years to late game victories.

A Proven Winner

Above all else, Wilson knows what it takes to win a football game. Through his first 112 career games, he has a record of 75-36-1 — which is good for a career winning percentage of 67%, and has only missed the playoffs once in his seven seasons. His win percentage is almost identical to Rodgers through 112 career games, who went 76-36. Brees only won 61 of his first 112 games, and although Luck has been in the league for just as long as Wilson, he’s only played 86 games due to constant injuries (he has won 53 of them).

People discredit Wilson for this fact and claim that he rode on the coattails of his defense. His defense was REALLY good, you can’t deny that. In Wilson’s seven years in Seattle, he has had a top five defense for five of those seven years. If you look at the flip side though, the Seahawks have had a top 11 offense for six of the seven years Wilson has been in Seattle. Wilson has been a part of an offense that ranks in the top third of the NFL for basically all of his career. The lethal combination of a top level offense and defense have led him to one super bowl championship already, and what should have been another if Pete Carroll would have handed the ball off to Marshawn Lynch.

And if you’re really going to use the excuse that defense has bailed Wilson out for his whole career, then you have to take a look at the other QB’s as well. Brady has had a top ten defense (points allowed) for 13 of his 18 seasons. Brees and Rodgers have both featured teams with explosive defenses over the years. You can’t discredit a quarterback for being on a team with a good defense, especially in Wilson’s case. He has more than held up his end of the bargain with limited weapons over the years.

To top it all off, Wilson has started every single game over the course of his career. In seven seasons, Wilson has never missed a game due to injury, he has started 112 of 112 games **knock on wood**. In football, that is a blessing to feature a quarterback who you know if going to be healthy week in and week out. He is durable, he is reliable, and he’s going to show up and give you a great chance of winning week in and week out.

Stop Sleeping on Wilson

He can throw, he can run. He’s as clutch as they come. His reliability falls in a league of its own. He finds ways to win football games. Throw all of this together, and Wilson is the third best QB in the NFL entering the 2019 season. He may not be the most talented of the bunch, he may not have the physical attributes; but there aren’t many that I’d choose to lead my team over him. You know you aren’t getting any baggage with Wilson, there aren’t going to be any in-house feuds that bring an organization to the ground. He’s not a diva. Wilson goes about things the right way, he carries himself with the utmost professionalism on and off the field, and he represents the Seahawks organization with the class that is expected out of a franchise quarterback.

At the very least, put some respect on Wilson’s name, he deserves much more than he is given. I would bet he’s going to continue to lead the Seahawks to the promise land for many years to come. Hate on me all you want, but I’ve laid it all out for you. Russell Wilson is MY (fantasy) quarterback, and there’s nothing you can say or do to change that.

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