Even in the midst of a season full of "did you see that?" moments and solid if not spectacular stats, Russell Wilson's performance Sunday against the Chicago Bears may be the highlight of an impressive rookie season.
Wilson led the Seahawks on a 97-yard scoring drive to take a late lead and then an 80-yard game-winning drive in overtime. On the road. Against the Bears' defense.
Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III have had solid seasons while also helping their teams to winning records, but Wilson's win over the Bears was as impressive as one produced by any other rookie quarterback this year.
"He's just so beautifully poised and so confident that it gives himself a chance to play at this level," Seattle coach Pete Carroll said of Wilson after Sunday's win.
All things considered, it's hard to argue that Wilson is having a better season than Luck or Griffin, but it's close. Here are Wilson's numbers compared to those of Luck.
Luck: 55.5 % completion percentage, 7.15 yards-per-attempt, 17 TDs, 16 INTs
Wilson: 63.4 % completion percentage, 7.39 yards-per-attempt, 19 TDs, 8 INTs
Remember, one of those signal callers was the top overall pick of the NFL Draft, the other was selected 74 picks later.
True, it must be mentioned that Luck has attempted nearly 200 more passes than Wilson and is averaging about 100 more passing yards-per-game than Wilson, but the fact that Wilson has even put up comparable numbers is somewhat staggering. Not only is Wilson working with less -- two Indianapolis receivers have compiled more receiving yards than Seattle's top pass catcher -- some teams thought he would never even make it as a starting quarterback in the NFL. That was never the case with Luck.
Wilson's superb year is as impressive as it is unlikely. The former Wisconsin and N.C. State signal caller was once deemed too short to play in the NFL, and strongly considered abandoning football for professional baseball (Wilson was selected by the Colorado Rockies in the fourth round of the 2010 MLB Draft).
Even after a record-breaking season at Wisconsin, one in which Wilson set the single season FBS record for passing efficiency, concerns about his 5-foot-11 frame dropped him to the third round of the NFL Draft. He was the sixth quarterback taken.
There's a reason teams are wary of selecting a short quarterback. Last year, 29 of the 32 quarterbacks who started the majority of games for their teams were at least 6-foot-2. For every Drew Brees there are several Pat Whites, six-foot-tall quarterbacks who set records in college but could never break through in the NFL.
"If you're 6-feet tall and throw the ball well at the college level or you're 6-foot-3 and throw the ball OK, the 6-3 guy is probably going to get the nod," Joe Theismann, the 6-foot-tall former quarterback of the Redskins, told Fox Wisconsin. "It's more perception. We're driven in society by what so often we think works."
In training camp, Wilson had to beat out the newly-signed Matt Flynn for the starting spot. Since then Wilson has done nothing but keep the Seahawks in contention for a playoff spot, leading the team to wins over the Bears, Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots.
Some, like Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, think Wilson would be getting more hype if he played in a city other than Seattle.
"You show me another quarterback with his résumé, and I’ll show you a great quarterback," Sherman told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer."But he doesn’t get the credit because they don’t want to give him the credit. They don’t want to make him a big name. They make the guys a big name who they want to make a big name. He’s a great quarterback, and he’s probably a little better than those guys.”
As good as Wilson has been thus far, Seattle needs him to be even better over the final fourth of the season. Three out of the Seahawks' final four games are against division foes, and the other involves a cross-country road trip to Buffalo.
Can Wilson leads the Seahawks on an improbable run? Don't bet against him just yet, he's beaten tall odds before.
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