By Jonathan Comey
Cold, Hard Football Facts Russell Athletic Club Founder/President
It’s pretty amazing, that in this day and age, where quarterbacks are king and everyone has an opinion on everything, that one of the two bad-ass, trend-setting, record-setting quarterbacks in the Super Bowl is getting the silent treatment.
How good is Russell Wilson?
Win or lose Sunday, he is at worst the second-best second-year quarterback the league has ever seen.
By what measure? Any of them. All of them. No matter what measuring stick you use, only Dan Marino belongs in the argument with Wilson -- and Marino, through two seasons, was great to the point of sorcery.
And yet, Wilson is an afterthought in a game being generally billed as “PEYTON MANNING! VS. RICHARD SHERMAN! AND THE SEAHAWKS DEFENSE!””
Always reliable Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com on Wilson: “The reality is that he isn't nearly as good as his reputation would lead you to believe.”
Keep in mind that Prisco is the same guy who once tried to tell us that Tom Brady couldn't play either, launching an epic internet flame war in the early days of the Mighty CHFF.
Back in the day, this would have landed Prisco in “Pigskin Detention,” but CHFF shut the doors on that facility a ways back. Too overcrowded.
Wilson’s reputation is one thing.
His actual, you know, performance is another.
A deeper look at the numbers shows that Wilson isn’t just underrated (and underpaid), he’s turned in the best two-season start of any quarterback in league history.
Let’s start with wins: 24 so far in his first two years. That’s a lot, right? Got to compare favorably with anyone, right?
Yep. The All-time wins leaders through two regular seasons:
- Wilson 24
- Andrew Luck, 22
- Ben Roethlisberger, 22
- Dan Marino, 21
- Matt Ryan
- Joe Flacco 20
Now let’s shift to playoff games started. This will be Wilson’s fifth in two years. More rarified air. Most playoff games first two years:
- Roethlisberger 6
- Mark Sanchez 6
- Joe Flacco 5
- Wilson 5
Now let’s shift to passer rating (min. 25 starts). Surely Wilson can’t be on this list as well. After all, he’s a “game-manager”! But there he is. Best passer rating, first two seasons:
- Dan Marino, 104.5
- Wilson, 100.6
- Roethlisberger, 98.3
- Robert Griffin III, 91.5
- Carson Palmer, 90.2
Wilson may be seen my some as a game manager. But he gets the ball down field as well as any second-year QB in history. Best average per pass attempt, first two season (min. 500 attempts):
- Ben Roethlisberger, 8.89
- Kurt Warner, 8.61
- Dan Marino, 8.48
- Y.A. Tittle, 8.19
- Wilson, 8.09
Oh, did we mention that he’s one of the greatest running threats ever to play the position? Most rushing yards by QB, first two seasons
- Cam Newton, 1,447
- Robert Griffin, 1,304
- Michael Vick, 1,066
- Wilson, 1,028
- Vince Young, 947
Five wildly different disciplines: scrambling, passing efficiently, downfield ability, winnng games, staying alive in the playoffs.
Wilson has not only been good at all five, he’s been among the best ever.
Let’s take a look at 2011, or Year 1 B.R.W. in Seattle. The running back? Marshawn Lynch. The wideouts? Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin and Sidney Rice. The tight end? Zach Miller. In other words, the exact same dudes that will be out there Sunday, barring a return to health for Percy Harvin.
That Seahawk team averaged 20.1 points a game, 4.8 yards a play, 16.3 first downs a game.
Enter Wilson, and the Seahawks in 2012/13 have averaged 26.0 points a game, 5.7 yards per play, 19.3 first downs a game.
So, essentially, Wilson has been good for 5.9 points a game, a yard a play, and three extra first downs over Tarvaris Jackson (a.k.a. "replacement-level QB").
And keep in mind that he’s been doing it in the NFC West, the division with the best defenses in the NFL.
In 2013, the Seahawks’ schedule included the No. 1 scoring defense in the league besides themselves (Carolina), two games with No. 2 (San Fran), one with No. 3 (New Orleans), two with No. 6 (Arizona) and one with No. 8 (Indy). That’s a tough road.
Ah, but what does all that matter? According to Prisco, Wilson is “a good QB, but far from great.”
Guess we’ll see how far from great he is on Sunday.