Is Russell Wilson really the best young QB in the NFL?
For all the hubbub about how difficult it is to find an "elite QB" in the NFL... It kinda seems like they're everywhere. Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Both of the Manning brothers, and Drew Brees are all considered elite. What about Flacco and Big Ben? These guys have Super Bowl rings and a trunk full of playoff wins, gotta call them elite. What about Romo and Rivers? They're both franchise QB who have won fantasy championships. In today's NFL, there aren't really elite passers, as much as those who have, and those who have not.
And... well... It seems as if it's getting easier and easier to draft "the guy". In the last two years, 8 teams, a quarter of the NFL have drafted their franchise QB. And I'd say that with the exception of Brandon Weeded and Ryan Tannehill, they all got great QBs. But who is the best? Who is the next big thing?
A bigger question?...
How the hell do we decide?
What if we compared stats? America loves stats. Fantasy football adds a whole dimension to being a fan. I'll list how many passing touchdowns, yards, and interceptions, as well as rushing touchdowns, yards, and how many times they fumbled*.
*This is not how many fumbles the player lost, but how many times they had, and then lost possession of the ball, whether it be as a runner or in the pocket this season.
Russell Wilson- 26 TDs, 10 INTs, 3118 passing yards, 4 rushing TDs, 489 rushing yards. 5 fumbles.
Andrew Luck- 23 TDs, 18 INTs, 4374 passing yards, 5 rushing TDs, 255 rushing yards, 10 fumbles.
RG3- 20 TDs, 5 INTs, 3200 yards, 7 rushing TDs, 815 rushing yards, 12 fumbles.
Colin Kaepernick- 10 TDs, 3 INTs, 1814 passing yards, 5 rushing TDs, 415 rushing yards, 9 fumbles.
Cam Newton- 19 TDs, 12 INTs, 3,869 passing yards, 8 rushing TDs, 741 rushing yards, 9 fumbles.
Andy Dalton- 27 TDs, 16 INTs, 3,669 passing yards, 1 rushing TD, 120 rushing yards, 5 fumbles.
So, if we're counting all of the fumbles as lost...
Andrew Luck had 28 touchdowns and 28 turnovers.
RG3 had 27 touchdowns and 14 turnovers.
Colin Kaepernick had 15 touchdowns and 12 turnovers.
Cam Newton had 27 TDs and 21 turnovers.
Andy Dalton had 28 TDs and 21 turnovers.
Oh Russell Wilson had 30 touchdowns and only 15 turnovers.
So you're telling me that, statistically, the TD/TO ratio of each QB was...
I don't know about you... But I'd rather have the guy with 15 more touchdowns than turnovers.
However... it takes two doesn't it? We can't just say that A is better than B because he has better numbers. A could play in a pure passing offense, with a pro-bowl roster, in a weak division, while B is already the best player on his team and he plays Tom Brady twice a year.
Well fear not, inquisitive reader, I gave this some thought as well.
Andy Dalton could be really good down the line. He's a typical pocket passer, and might eventually develop into a real field general. But for now... He's middle of the pack, nothing spectacular and I'm not sure that he's as good as Andrew Luck is now. You could put half of the QBs in the league with the talent on his offense and they might have better stats. Imagine if Tom Brady had a guy like A.J. Green. Good, borderline very good, but not spectacular, and that's what I hope to address here.
Colin Kaepernick, despite being the only player on this list with Super Bowl experience really benefited from mismatches and a great team, as well as an easy playoff run. The soft defense of Green Bay, and predictable inconsistency of Atlanta boosted the Niners into the ship. If you need an example of why I think he's not all that special, rewind to Week 16 vs the Seahawks. You're welcome. He stepped in and performed... honestly... at the same level as Alex Smith. He added a dimension, but ultimately, I see this whole "pistol" offense as a fad, along with it's signature QB.
Caaaaam Newton is probably the most physically gifted athlete on this list. He's tall, built, fast, and has a monster arm. But mentally... He's not the best. I'm not in any way commenting on his intelligence, I'm more referring to his maturity on the sideline and with the press, his inability to read defenses, specifically the zone, and his inability to call plays. I believe his record and stats reflect his inconsistent and inadequate intangibles. As a QB, you need to be able to stay in the pocket, and throw to the hole in the zone that isn't being covered, especially if you play on the Panthers and don't have any receivers that will constantly beat one on one coverage.
With Andrew Luck, I'm conflicted. He's the closest thing to Peyton Manning that you're gonna get in a young QB. He's got very accuracy, a decent arm, good athleticism, but his strength? Is in his head. The young gun is calm in close games, can read defenses, and understands the strengths of his players. He could very well do for the Colts, what Aaron Rodgers did for the packers, in helping them forget about his hall of fame predecessor. However... I don't like how he plays when there's a pass rush in his face. He gets happy feet and loses his accuracy going deep, often overthrowing his targets. This is a problem that he needs to fix moving forward or he will be less like Peyton and more like Philip Rivers. And for everybody saying, "he took the team from the first overall pick to the playoffs!"
Uh, just two years ago they made the playoffs for the eighth straight season, they were one year removed from a playoff contender. What was the difference? Kerry Collins and Curtis Painter. Thank you very much.
RG3 was somebody that I was realllllly high on going into the draft, and I totally supported Mike Shanahan's decision to mortgage the future of the franchise on trading up to get him. What I didn't support was how he stunted RG3's growth as a passer, trapping him in a version of the spread that essentially made Griffin a wildcat halfback.
Breaking down the Redskins pistol is simple. Griffin hikes the ball, fakes to his back, looks to his first two reads, and then runs. It guarantees that he has less incompletions, more positive plays, and less interceptions. The only problem? All those plays where he ran instead of throwing it away? Those are plays where he is guaranteed to get hit. And as all of us who are old enough to know it sucks getting out of bed have learned, you can only get hit so many times before it takes it's toll on your body. So now somebody who could have been a great pocket passer with the ability to run to extend the play is a more politically correct MIchael Vick.
Which brings me to a Mr. Russell Wilson. Unlike most of the QBs on this list, Wilson wasn't taken in the first round. And he had to wait even longer than Colin Kaepernick, all the way through the second round. And what did he do? Overcome being a third round pick, outplay two other QBs in the pre-season to become the starter. After that, he became a spread QB, and managed the game, and towards the end of the season, he ran a pro-style offense and lead his team to the playoffs. Despite being handcuffed at the beginning of the season, he ended up with better stats than any other QB on this list, and he won the most games. He has wins against several big teams, including a blow out win over the eventual NFC Champion 49ers, a controversial win vs. the Green Bay Packers, and a comeback versus the mighty New England Patriots. Now this logic usually gets three responses.
A. He played with a really good team!
True, he did have a good defense and a stellar running back helping him out. But doesn't Colin Kaepernick? Didn't Joe Montana? And forgive me if I'm wrong, but weren't these same Hawks only 7-9 last year? With the biggest difference being their QB?
B. Well the Packers game doesn't count, that was really an interception.
Was Russell Wilson officiating that night? Was Pete Carroll the one reviewing the play? No? So how about you don't blame the Hawks for not being upset about getting a big win.
C. They're only good at home.
That's why they traveled all the way across the country to beat up the Washington Redskins in the playoffs, and how they beat the Bears in overtime at Soldier field. nice try.
I may seem biased, but honestly, I'm a Raiders fan. If anything, there are remnants of a rivalry from the old AFC Seahawks. (Bo knows Boz). I'm just shocked that nobody can put their loyalty aside long enough to see that Russell Wilson is easily the best young gun in the NFL.