Russell Wilson is a special quarterback.
Wilson deserved and is worth every penny he got in his most recent contract extension from the Seattle Seahawks.
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After signing his four-year, $87 million deal, worth an average of $21.9 million per season, social media exploded with criticism of Wilson labeling him as a “game manager” and nothing but a “product of a good defense and run game.”
Before obliterating this logic take a look at what this so-called game manager can do.
Alex Smith (the quintessential game manger) can’t, and wouldn’t even attempt, to make this play. He doesn’t have the instincts or the arm strength to make or execute it. Further, no quarterback in the NFL does apart from the mobile and elite few like Aaron Rodgers or Andrew Luck.
Those guys are pretty good aren’t they?
No, Wilson doesn’t put up the stats that Rodgers or Luck does, but he’s not asked or needed to. However, what he is asked to do in the highest pressure moments, he does. Need proof?
Wilson’s career stats in December through January in his first three seasons are astounding especially when you consider these are the months when teams face the toughest divisional and overall opponents. How good are the numbers during these months?
In 20 overall games, Wilson has thrown 33 touchdown passes compared to only 13 interceptions in an offense that is run-first. This TD pass-to-INT ratio in a quarterback’s first three seasons from December through January is among the best all-time: not just in the NFL today.
Not too shabby of a list to be on.
When breaking down and digesting Wilson’s mobility, pocket awareness, escapability and instincts there’s only one quarterback that compares in NFL history; and that’s long-time Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants signal-caller Fran Tarkenton, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Over the last two seasons, no quarterback has more game-winning drives than Wilson (10), with five in each respective season. Some have said, “that means the teams were behind so that’s an overvalued stat.”
Incorrect, the appropriate metric for this logic would be comeback wins.
Feb 1, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) talks with Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll during a timeout in the second quarter of Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports
What about the eyeball test?
It takes a special player to play as miserably as Wilson did in the NFC Championship Game last year against the Green Bay Packers and come back to make a throw like he did above for a two-point conversion. It takes an even more special quarterback to throw the type of daggers he did in overtime to swiftly thwart the Packers’ Super Bowl dreams.
Those were, and are, memories that should sear into the brains of all naysayers of the 26 year-old out of Wisconsin. Not a lot of quarterbacks in the history of the NFL playoffs have made throws like Wilson did in OT that day.
With the signing of Wilson and middle linebacker Bobby Wagner on defense (who has 28 more tackles than anyone on the team over the last two seasons), the Seahawks have clearly shown a commitment to winning long-term.
Wilson has also shown a gift for protecting his body from hits while scrambling much more than the average quarterback. Which means fans should get locked in for a long and historical career
What about the Malcom Butler play? How does that not taint how “special” Wilson is?
Let’s take a look at the play itself and break down why Wilson didn’t make a bad decision or a bad throw.
Take a moment to pause the footage as Wilson releases the ball.
During release Butler does not have underneath position, is four yards deep of where the intended slant route was to end up, and from the QBs perspective Butler had to run around Brandon Browner who was jamming Jermaine Kearse. Wilson made the correct read and delivered a catchable ball.
Simply put, Butler made an outstanding play aided by Browner’s physicality mucking up the Seahawks play design. These facts do nothing to negate the aforementioned facts of how special Wilson is.
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Joe Montana is widely considered one of (if not the) greatest quarterback of all-time and threw only 273 touchdown passes in 16 seasons. John Elway was no scrub, and checks in at 300 touchdown passes in the same amount of seasons.
At his current rate, Wilson will throw for 384 scores in the same amount of seasons.
While these legends played in a less pass-oriented era, the Seahawks have shown the NFL that teams can still have consistent success playing a more traditional style. So why should anyone discount Wilson for being the leader of a team that has flipped the script in this regard?
There are only a handful of quarterbacks in the NFL right now (and in any given year) that you would trust or want to lead your team during the highest pressure moments.
Wilson is one of those very select few and unquestionably deserved every penny he got from the Seahawks.
Will Reeve is a contributing writer to NFL Spin Zone. You can connect with him on Facebook here.
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