Who would you rather have under center?
14 Games, 54.6 completion %, 3,978 yards, 7.1 yards per attempt, 20 TDs, 18 INTs, 5 rushing TDs, 5 fumbles lost, 75.5 QB Rating
14 Games, 62.9 completion %, 2,697 yards, 7.6 yards per attempt, 21 TDs, 9 INTs, 3 rushing TDs, 3 fumbles lost, 95.5 QB rating
13 games, 66.4 completion %, 2,902 yards, 8.3 yards per attempt, 18 TD, 4 INTs, 6 rushing TDs, Two fumbles lost, 104.2 QB Rating
Two of these quarterbacks have been fighting for the Rookie of the Year award all year; the other forced his way into the discussion the last few weeks.
Quarterback A is Andrew Luck. Quarterback B is Russell Wilson. Quarterback C is Robert Griffin III.
While pundits have gone back and forth between Luck and Griffin all year, Wilson wasn’t even part of the debate until recently. But after leading his team to consecutive 50-point performances, he is squarely in the conversation for ROY.
And when you consider Wilson and Luck are both 9-5 this season and in great position to make the playoffs, the choice becomes even tougher. (Griffin was 7-6 as a starter before a knee injury sidelined him last week. His health going forward will ultimately determine whether or not he is still in this race at the end of the season.)
But, what really makes Wilson’s season spectacular is that the other two were expected to excel in Year 1. They were the top two picks in April’s draft, and the NFL media has been swooning over them since their college careers ended.
Wilson wasn’t even expected to start this season.
He was selected in the third round of last year’s Draft and entered training camp behind Matt Flynn, who the Seahawks paid $26 million in the offseason.
Even after Wilson won the job, the Seahawks coaching staff handled him with kiddie gloves throughout the season’s first quarter. The playbook was vanilla. The throws were simple. In a league full of pass-happy offenses, Wilson spent most of his time turning around and handing the ball off to Marshawn Lynch.
As the season has progressed, though, the coaches put more and more on the plate of their young signal caller. Wilson has been asked to make more reads at the line of scrimmage. His receivers are running option routes. Recently, Seattle even implemented some read-option plays.
The Seahawks definitely became Wilson’s team, and he exceeds expectations every week. He has thrown 11 touchdowns compared to one interception in the last six games while putting up 108 points in the last two.
His defining moment (so far) this season came Week 13 in Chicago. The Bears were 8-3 at the time and held a 14-10 lead with less than four minutes to play.
Wilson took over at his own 3-yard line.
He completed passes of 14, 24, 11, 7, and 27 yards to take the lead with 24 seconds to go. Rookie quarterbacks aren’t supposed to do that against the Chicago defense.
After the Bears tied it up at the end of regulation, Wilson’s 80-yard game-winning drive in overtime seemed easy. He looked more like a grizzled vet than a 24-year-old making his seventh career road start.
Now compare Wilson’s season so far to Quarterback D:
60 completion %, 4,051 yards, 7.84 yards per attempt, 21 TDs, 17 INTs, 14 rushing TDs, 3 fumbles lost, 84.5 QB Rating
That quarterback—Cam Newton—went 6-10 last season and was named Rookie of the Year.
Wilson won’t throw for as many yards as Newton did. Nor will he rush for as many scores. But there’s a good chance he’ll finish the season with double-digit wins, and nobody talked about Newton’s poise and leadership the way they’re talking about Wilson’s.
So will Russell Wilson win the Rookie of the Year this season?
This week’s game against San Francisco will go a long ways in determining that.
But more than likely, though, Wilson will end up like that college football team which starts the season low in the polls, and misses the title game because of it.