Mar 3, 2014; Surprise, AZ, USA; A young boy in a jersey of Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson watches Texas Rangers players practice at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Dispelling Myth That Russell Wilson Wins Because of Seahawks Defense

Russell Wilson isn’t an ‘elite’ quarterback”, we’ve been hearing that a lot lately haven’t we?

I thought it was awesome what (what I assume to be) one of our readers, @JohnPaul Sein said yesterday in the comment section of one of our homepage posts at FanSided. Sometimes, stats are difficult to argue:

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:

Five wildly different disciplines… Wilson has not only been good at all five, he’s been among the best ever

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.

And keep in mind that he’s been doing it in the NFC West, the division with the best defenses in the NFL.

And yet when the 2011 Seahawks were playing the defense was ranked 24th and offense was ranked 28th.. then Russel Wilson comes in and offense jumps up to 17th but defense took a hit and was 29th.. Now in 2011 the record for the Sehawks was 7-9 and in 2012 Seahawks with Slightly better stats became 11-5.. and in 2013 the seahawks went 13-3 and its because of the DEFENSE???? the coaching staff has been the same since 2010… Wilson is without a doubt a leader on a grand scale… He is a great QB… but im sorry he is on a large margin better than Andrew Luck and Nick Foles

I don’t really need to say too much more, but I do want to add a thing or two to this argument. Before I get too far along, I would like to point out that this is in no way an argument for how “elite” Russell Wilson is or is not. Quite frankly, it’s my opinion that two seasons is not enough of a sample size to judge “elite” status in the NFL or as a pro athlete in any sport.

This is because to truly gain that “elite” status, you have to perform at that level for several seasons. You have to endure the ups and downs of a roster and continue to lead your team to places they shouldn’t be. It’s not about wins early in your career, it’s not about stats early in your career and it’s not about big games started. Just look at the ‘Playoff games started’ list that has Roethlisberger, Sanchez and Joe Flacco on it. Elite? Hardly, but an impressive stat nonetheless.

But here’s the kicker, not yet being an “elite” quarterback in the NFL doesn’t change the fact that RW3 has played at an elite level. There’s no questioning the fact that two years into his career he may have the most complete package of any quarterback that’s ever played the game. There’s no denying that the team has outperformed not only their expectations over the past two seasons, but their talent level. Russ wasn’t even supposed to play his first year!

But this is the stat that really gets me and really does matter, Russell Wilson has 8 fourth quarter comebacks and has orchestrated a total of 10, yes TEN game winning drives in just two seasons.

Jan 19, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson hoists the George Halas Trophy after the 2013 NFC Championship football game against the San Francisco 49ers at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Hold the phones! Hide your wife and hide your kids because THAT is the stat they didn’t want you to know about, folks. Right there, nothing else matters. Not what anybody else has done in the league, not how good you think the Seattle defense is, nothing.

Russell has absolutely proven that he is among the top quarterbacks in the league right now and has proven that he is as important as any other QB in the NFL is to their team. Tom Brady, Colin Kaepernick, Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler, Robert Griffin and Cam Newton can all tell you first hand just how “elite” Wilson can be when the Seahawks are in trouble and up against the ropes. Pretty sure Peyton Manning doesn’t know that Wilson isn’t an elite quarterback and I know Matt Ryan‘s seen it.

Go ahead and throw in the fact that he did it in his first road playoff game at Washington and then took his team down TWICE in the NFC Championship game last season, before ultimately going on to have one of the best days a quarterback has had in a Super Bowl just two weeks later. Speaking of which, even if Peyton had been his usual untouchable “OMAHA” self in the Super Bowl, Wilson would still have won it for the Hawks, he was playing that high above everyone else.

Let’s also point out that all these cats that are spewing their nonesense of what Wilson has yet to accomplish in his career, are forgetting that they were the ones calling his entire receiving corps “mediocre, appetizers and a collection of backups”. Yet he still put up what amount to be one of, if not the, best rookie/sophomore year-combos the league has ever seen. And as JohnPaul said, the kid has elite tools and is perhaps the most complete quarterback the league has ever seen at his age.

So yeah you can bash him now for playing with a great defense or whatever, but sooner or later you will have to give him his due credit. If he continues on this path in 2014 with the schedule the Seahawks were given, serious consideration of elite status will be in the offing, there’s just no way around it.

So to summarize, he may not be “elite” just yet, but he’s putting in all the necessary work and has all the physical tools to be there at some point. That point may be sooner than later.

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  • JohnPaul Sein

    I’m an avid reader joshua.. I just do my research is all :) thank you for the recognition

  • JohnPaul Sein

    And like you said I don’t think russel wilson is elite.. but he is playing at that level…

  • truthbetold

    It’s not a myth, and he is winning because of that defense. would the Seahawks have won the superbowl with that offense exactly as it is, if they had to carry the defense? No, they wouldn’t have come close. which isn’t a Knock on Russel, because he is a very talented quarterback. but he’s not elite yet, and he needs this defense to be what it is as he keeps learning. There will be plenty of time for him to develop into an elite quarterback, and I think he will. Lets just not get hasty and call him something he isn’t quite yet.

    • JohnPaul Sein

      That’s the thing, we are not calling him elite. No 2nd yr qb is.. but alot of them are playing at an elite level… just doesn’t have the title yet..

    • Derill P

      how about saying that the defense is playing well because of Wilson’s game.Most of those guys on the defense were there in 2011.Remember that?Seattle could have had another 7-9 record in 2012 and 2013 with Flynn.Think about that.Most of you guys were saying he couldn’t do it because of his height.Now that he is winning you think its the defense that is winning the games for him.Houston,Arizona,Giants,Cleveland,Buffalo,Jets were 6th,78th,8th,9th,10th,11th in total defense in 2013 and non of them made the playoffs.If can have the best defense in the league but you need a hell of a QB to win and that is what Wilson brings to the seahawks.

      • truthbetold

        I’m not saying he’s had no effect on the team. He’s not a quarterback like Alex Smith, who basically lets himself be carried while not contributing much himself. I like Russel Wilson a lot. But at the same time, I can’t say the defense is playing well because of the offense, because if you watch, it’s the other way around. Consistently, the Seahawks aren’t a team that’s going to beat you with offensive firepower. They’re going to beat you with defense first, the ground game second, and their young quarterback is capable of making some plays as he continues to learn the game. To me, that’s the reality of where the team is. Again, it’s not a knock on wilson. I think him, kaepernick, and luck will grow into greatness. They just aren’t there yet.

        • Derill P

          Has wilson ever gotten the offensive power that some of the other teams have?Sidney rice will easily be a no3 receiver in Chicago and he was even out for most of the season last year.Our best TE is Miller,Really? He is not Jimmy Graham or Gronk.Other teams are loaded with TEs and WRs.If being elite comes with the years of consistent stats then why do we even have to ask the question in his 2nd year?If We want to see a player do that for say 6years before we can call him elite then all the talk about being elite is a waste of time.At the moment he is playing at an elite level so we should stop comparing him to the so called elite because he has a better record than most of the so called elite in his first two seasons.

          • truthbetold

            I just simply don’t agree that he’s playing elite right now, and i give the defense the biggest share of the credit for the wins. You feel he’s playing elite, and i don’t. But one thing i know we agree on is that he’s one of the best young QBs in the game.

          • AllCoug’dUp (Joshua Davis)

            That’s a fair assessment Truth. I clearly said that he’s NOT an elite qb just yet, so I’m with ya there. But boy the numbers just don’t lie and if you’re being honest you have to say that he IS playing at an elite level.

            Far as the defense carrying anybody goes, I think this goes hand in hand with Wilson. There is a trust factor that you don’t see on other teams between D and O because the defense knows if they can just keep it close, Wilson will bring the team back. Case in point, he did it vs Chicago, New England, Washington and Atlanta in his first season, the ladder two coming in the Playoffs. Then he did it vs Tampa (regardless of Tampa being terrible the Hawks were down 21), Carolina, Houston (defense played big part but Wilson kept them close enough with some clutch plays) and San Fran (twice actually but defense blew the game in the Bay) in year 2.

            I’m looking at 8 fourth qtr comebacks and 10 game winning drives in 2 seasons. That is playing at elite levels, at least in the clutch situations. And what’s crazy is he has actually given the Hawks the lead in the 4th MORE THAN THAT, but the defense that “carries him” has given up some of those.

            In 2013 had 6th-highest QB rating of any QB that threw for at least 2,500 yards (Rodgers, Manning, Brees, Rivers, Foles)

            In 2013 only Manning, Romo, Rivers and Brees had better TD-int ratios.

            In 2013, of QB’s that threw at least 200 completions, only Foles, Rivers and Manning had better yard per-completion avg (257 complete for 8.2 avg for Wilson)

            If that’s not elite-level play along with those other numbers from the article, I don’t know what it will take. And that’s WITHOUT PERCY OR THE OTHER #1 IN SIDNEY

          • JohnPaul Sein

            Great Post Joshua!!

        • Dale GoDawgs McLerran

          When did Seattle’s defense first show that it was on the verge of being really good? And when did Wilson show that he could lead the Seahawks if the defense could just keep the team hanging in there? I can certainly tell you the latter. Wilson’s third game was the Monday night game against GB, famous for the Hail Mary. The next week on the road at Carolina, Wilson overcame two picks and threw for the lead late in the third quarter. The following week was against the Patriots. The Pats had a 23-10 lead with less than 10 minutes left in the game. Wilson threw three TD passes that day, including two in the final quarter for the 24-23 win. After the game, Earl Thomas had this to say about Wilson: “If guys didn’t believe in him, I guarantee they believe in him now.” So, by the 5th game of the 2012 season, the Seahawks defense was looking at Wilson as a leader who would do the job of a first rank QB.
          Now, I am sure that the Seahawks defense was beginning to get it together as a unit fairly early in the 2012 season. But Wilson was leading the Seahawks early in his first year as well. I truly believe that the defense was looking at the no quit attitude that Wilson displayed and that attitude helped the Seahawks defense to become the elite unit it is today. That is, the defense is now great in part because they know that there is a reward that Wilson delivers game after game after game.

  • silus

    Your argument is against the “myth” that Russell Wilson wins because of the defense, and yet the first thing you do is count up “his wins.” LOL. Ridiculous.

    • AllCoug’dUp (Joshua Davis)

      What’s your point? He WINS is my point! The myth is that he WINS because of the defense. The win total is what the article is based on, then the REASON the Seahawks are winning is the focus of the rest of it.

      • johntheonly

        I’m pretty sure that is a real good article…keep it up =)

  • BlueTalon

    I love it when people say Wilson is a game manager, and that the defense carries the team. Let them keep believing it. Then when he sticks the dagger in their team’s chances at the end of the game, I will enjoy watching their heads explode.

    • johntheonly

      People really do get all revved up over a newer phrase like “game manager”. Then they proceed to overuse, abuse, and change the meaning from “OK QB”, to “unskilled, luckytobeintheleague” QB. Asif any QB is only a game manager…sounds like a government worker in Angola or some such thing. No team fields a quarterback who cannot, every so often, put together a game winning drive at the end. Wilson is far from that, I believe he inspires faith from his teammates, and by doing so gets them to pull out their A game when it is most needed.?

  • Dale GoDawgs McLerran

    People point to Andrew Luck’s 11 game winning drives (GWDs), the most in the NFL over the last two years, as an indication that Luck has the “clutch” factor of an elite QB. With 10 GWDs, Wilson is just one behind Luck. In itself, that should indicate that Wilson also has a clutch factor much like Luck’s.
    Now, there is a wasted opportunity for a GWD in the event of a loss. We can compute a success rate in producing a GWD as the number of GWDs divided by the number of opportunities for a GWD:
    GWD success rate = 100 * GWDs / (GWDs + Losses)
    With 11 GWDs and 10 losses over two years, Andrew Luck has a GWD success rate of 52.4%. Wilson’s 10 GWDs and 8 losses over these two years produces a GWD success rate of 55.6%. When presented the opportunity to produce a game winning drive, Wilson has a higher probability of completing a game winning drive. These stats are based on a small sample size, so there is nothing to suggest that Luck or Wilson has more of this clutch factor.
    It would be interesting to compute GWD success rates for all QBs. My guess is that QBs who are regarded as elite would separate themselves from others. I’ll bet that Wilson and Luck are up around the elite group. But as stated above, the sample size is small for Luck and Wilson, so it is certainly too early to regard these two young QBs as elite.

    • AllCoug’dUp (Joshua Davis)

      APPROVED! Well stated sir!

      • Dale GoDawgs McLerran

        Hey, what’s this? A Husky and a Coug agreeing on something? How cool is that? Next up, world peace? Well, maybe I am getting a little carried away!
        But as long as the Cougars aren’t playing the Huskies, then “Go Cougs!”

    • JohnPaul Sein

      I approve of this message lol

    • Cody Goodan

      I like the idea, but you can’t really use the stat simply because certain games didn’t allow GWDs. For example, 7 of Luck’s losses were by >8 points. This means that Luck couldn’t bring his team back with one drive. All 8 of Wilson’s losses were by 7 or less points. You’d also have to consider what the final situation was. Was Wilson backed up to his 5 with 30 seconds? Was Luck within the redzone with 5 minutes? There are many parts of this that would require more analysis than what would be desired. However, you could put up this stat as well: Wilson and the Seahawks have never been blown out (>7 point difference) since Wilson joined the team, while Luck has been blown out 7 times. The Seahawks were blown out 4 times the season before Wilson came, while the Colts were blown out 7 times the season before Luck came. This could indicate a certain “accountability” a player has related to blowouts, or the amount of times a QB can keep a game close.

      • JohnPaul Sein

        that is a case of this or that… for example with the Colts Luck is dealing with having a mediocre defense but a plethora of Offensive weapons. While Wilson is dealing with A Stout defense “historic” and Lynch… if i remember correctly, and i do The media was in absolute love with luck even after that embarrassing display against the colts… yet Russel Wilson always putting the offensive line on his back and scrambling to save his own hide cause the line wasn’t doing their job throwing to a pedestrian and mediocre WR Corps. But in the same token you have also proven why Russel is better than luck.. there has been several times when Russel and the team where at the 20 or further back and managed to obtain a TD or FG. The fact that people argue about Luck’s coming from behind deficit against the Chiefs is actualy quite embarrassing..

        1. The chiefs were HIGHLY overrated. and was stated as such a team not even playoff caliber as per the win for the Colts last yr.

        2. The Chefs were decimated with injuries… i believe it was around 5-7 pro bowlers injured that game alone? while there were fewer than that

        3. When wayne left Luck acted as if he forgot how to throw the ball

        4. Russel Wilson did not have his Top talent all year long and still managed win games

        Also if you take a look at Luck’s games as far as throwing is concerned. People like to make fun of Wilson and his “lack” o throwing and more of just handing it off to Lynch.

        Week by Week for Wilson and Luck

        Russel Wilson Andrew Luck

        Week 1 320 Week 1 178

        Week 2 142 Week 2 321

        Week 3 202 Week 3 159

        Week 4 123 Week 4 257

        Week 5 210 Week 5 229

        Week 6 257 Week 6 202

        Week 7 235 Week 7 228

        Week 8 139 Week 8 BYE

        Week 9 217 Week 9 271

        Week10 287 Week10 353

        Week11 230 Week11 232

        Week12 BYE Week12 163

        Week13 310 Week13 200

        Week14 199 Week14 326

        Week15 206 Week15 180

        Week16 108 Week16 241

        Week17 172 Week17 282

        TOTAL 3357 Total 3822

        Avg 209 Avg 238

        This is with sports analysts thinking that the Colts WR Corps being Elite! as well

  • Trakar

    I think you make an incredibly compelling argument,…but, I’m biased, ..and still pantless from Feb.
    Go ‘Hawks!

    • AllCoug’dUp (Joshua Davis)


    • JohnPaul Sein

      Thats Awesome!!!

  • Jean

    Russell brought the team back in the second half of the games they were behind out, the defense didn’t. I don’t think he is elite yet but he has accomplished a lot in two years. Give him time.

  • HD

    It will be interesting to see how Wilson does this year with an improved offensive line, his new receiving group, Improved depth at TE and great running backs…not to mention 2 years as a starting QB with playoff and Super Bowl experience…Seattle is upping the ante for DC’s around the league…I’m looking forward to 2014..this offense is just getting started