The Issue With Russell Wilson

When discussing quarterbacks in the NFL, there are two things people need to STOP doing.

1 – Stop issuing “wins” and “losses” to quarterbacks.  This includes Super Bowl wins, playoff wins, come from behind wins – all of them.   Offensive linemen never get credit for keeping their quarterbacks untouched in final drives, wide receivers are the ones making the catches the quarterbacks throw out there and running backs, more times than not, pick up blitzing corners and handle a lot of the dirty work in the trenches.   The quarterback did not win the game, the team did.  As cliche as that might sound it’s the truth.

2- Stop using the word “elite” when discussing quarterbacks.   This all goes back to the infamous Michael Kay radio interview with Eli Manning – and ever since then – the words “elite” have been tossed around like cuss words in a high school locker room.   The word “elite” has even gone hand in hand when trying to put Super Bowl winning quarterbacks into the “elite” class.  Joe Flacco.  Eli Manning.  Stop it.

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Wins, playoff success and the word “elite” have all come into play with the Seahawks third year starter, Russell Wilson.  Wilson, is a likable fixture in an NFL where the loud-mouthed, off-season troubled issues of many have cast a dark cloud over the sport.  Wilson is an intelligent, quiet, well mannered kid, who says all the right things when the camera is on him.  He has been in the playoffs all three seasons, including a Super Bowl win and another trip to the big game this year.   Even then – the praise has gotten out of hand.

The reason why the word “elite” now holds no meaning is because it meant something and now means virtually nothing.  That class of quarterback should only be the guys who throw for 35-40 touchdowns, 4500-5000 yards and have a touchdown interception ration of at least 4:1.   Without those guys at that position, their team accomplishes nothing.    In his three seasons, Wilson has played a total of 48 games – in those 48 he has only thrown for 3 or more touchdowns six times in a game (never achieving that mark once this year.)  In the same span of games he has only thrown for over 300 yards four times in a game.  These are not the consistent numbers seen with the word “elite.”

“But he wins games,” is what those with no argument say.

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Russell Wilson is the direct benefactor of being on one of the most talented squads in the NFL.   There is no question that no other team has been built better than Seattle’s in the last 4 years.   Wilson has benefited from a good offensive line and one of the most unstoppable forces at running back – Marshawn Lynch.  If there was ever an “elite running back” conversation – Lynch would be in the top three, without a doubt.  Not many other teams hand off to their running back on third and six situations – with confidence, none-the-less.  Defenses are forced to pack line-backers and/or safeties up on the line of scrimmage in order to stop this running game – leaving Russell Wilson many easy opportunities in the play-action game.

There is nothing wrong with Russell’s game, this is not an indictment on how well/bad he can play the game – but the credit that he is given is over-board.  Statistically  Russell Wilson’s numbers go neck in neck with the likes of Alex Smith (who many label a “game manager”), Derek Carr (rookie QB for the Raiders. . . yes the Oakland-Mess-Of-A-Franchise Raiders), Brian Hoyer (who played two less games and for Cleveland) and Andy Dalton (who gets crucified weekly for not being worth the money he’s signed to).   That’s the “elite” class Wilson’s numbers have him with.

“But his rushing yards, too. . .,” is the last thing those with no argument say.

This season he ran for over 800  yards, terrific.  Amazing.  Once again – let’s not give credit to the fact that half of those yards come off of play-action bootleg plays because defenses are concerned with stopping Marshawn Lynch and let’s also not mention that this receiving core does one thing extremely well – block on the outside.

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The argument of Russell Wilson being ‘great’ is just over-blown.   Wilson is the piece that’s needed at the quarterback position for this team.  That’s all that needs to be said.  He is neither great, nor terrible.  Truthfully, we won’t ever really know how good Russell Wilson is until he is served up the hefty contract which everyone knows is coming his way.  The Seahawks reportedly want to offer Wilson a “record breaking contract” which will leave not much money to throw around.  The Seahawks are very cap savvy but for how long will Wilson remain as the NFL’s most storied game-manager without the league’s best defense backing him up and an absolute beast named Marshawn Lynch to lean on offensively.

Maybe, some folks just have the bar set low, when it comes to being “elite.”

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

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