All six of your 2015 Pro Bowl quarterbacks have passed for 32 or more touchdowns with one game left to play and only Romo (3,406 yards passing) has passed for fewer than 4,000 yards.
In today’s pass-first NFL, though, numbers alone won’t make you an all-star. New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees currently leads the league with 4,671 yards and has tossed 32 touchdowns. Heck, even embattled Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (3,640 yards and 28 touchdowns) has put up impressive numbers this season.
The reason guys like Brady, Manning and Luck have earned the right to play in January’s festive exhibition is because they have earned the “winner” label. All six signal-callers have already punched a ticket to this year’s post season and only Luck and Romo have yet to hoist the Lombardi Trophy in their careers.
So why, then, is Wilson left off this list of all-star-caliber “winners?”
The first reason that Wilson’s unique style of play and unconventional size (5’11”, 206 pounds) often forces few to consider him an elite quarterback, even though he is. The former NC State and Wisconsin star is headed to the playoffs for the third time in three pro seasons and helped the Seahawks wallop Manning’s Broncos 43-8 in last year’s Super Bowl.
Yet Wilson is a mobile quarterback (842 yards rushing so far this season) in addition to being a winning one, which prompts some to view him alongside the run-first and read-option like Colin Kaepernick, Johnny Manziel and Michael Vick.
The reality is that Wilson is a lot more like Rodgers than Kaepernick, and some consider Rodgers to be the best signal-caller playing the game today.
Yes, Wilson is mobile and can rack up the rushing yards when necessary. However, like Rodgers, he is a pass-first guy who uses his mobility to buy time in the pocket and only takes off to gain yardage when necessary.
The big difference between Rodgers (who is averaging 6.2 yards per rush this season to Wilson’s 7.5, by the way) and Wilson, though, is that Rodgers has a top-shelf receiving corps. Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb are both among the top pass-catchers in the league, while rookie Davante Adams has proven to be a solid third option. More importantly, Nelson and Cobb have an established rapport with their quarterback.
Wilson, on the other hand, spent the offseason watching Golden Tate sign with the Detroit Lions while Sidney Rice entered retirement. Then he watched Percy Harvin get traded to the New York Jets after just five games in 2014.
This isn’t to knock guys like Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse or Paul Richardson, just to point out that Seattle’s receiving corps isn’t as talented or as experienced as Green Bay’s. Naturally, Wilson is going to read through his progressions and find no open target more often than a guy like Rodgers, hence the increased frequency of rushing.
The fact that Wilson is still a highly successful quarterback even with the pass-catching turnover is another reason why his performance this season is so impressive. He is currently rated 11th overall among quarterbacks by Pro Football Focus two spots higher than Manning (who like Rodgers, has a wealth of pass-catching talent).
Pro Football Focus also ranks Wilson 10th overall in accuracy, which is higher than Manning, Brady or Luck. There goes any argument of mobility being Wilson’s biggest strength.
Detractors will argue that Wilson benefits from having one of the all-time great NFL defenses along with a workhorse running back in Marshawn Lynch (1,246 yards and 12 touchdowns so far this season).
Wilson does benefit from these presences, but they do not take away from the fact that he is a playmaker capable of delivering in-game when it matters most. A “game-manager” he is not.
Game managers do not pass for 3,236 yards and score 26 total touchdowns (with just six turnovers) or help their team win eight of their last nine games. Wilson has done these things and with another win can claim home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.
According to former Super Bowl winning coach Tony Dungy, Wilson is actually very similar to a couple of past quarterbacks who also played on talented overall teams.
[Wilson]’s saying if I need to win the game, I can do it. And he reminds me, if you want to go back a generation, he reminds me of Joe Montana right now. If you want to go back two generations, Roger Staubach. Just guys who, when that moment is there, when their team needs it, they make the play. And Russell Wilson, right now, is the best player on that Seattle team.
The bottom line is that Wilson may not be the tall, stout pocket passer that NFL teams so often covet, but he is just as effective and efficient as anyone in the league.
Yes, Wilson is a two-time Pro Bowler and as an alternate may make it into his third this year. However, that can only happen if he doesn’t lead his team back to the Super Bowl for a second consecutive year. It is difficult to bet against Wilson doing exactly that because at the end of the day, he is an elite NFL quarterback, even if critics still are not quick to view him as one.