Russell Wilson was ranked the sixth best quarterback in ESPN’s fifth annual tier ranking. Yes, sixth. It’s even funnier when you read the main definition.
The Seahawks are used to the disrespect. One writer at USA Today decided Seattle would go 4-12 in 2018. Seriously, that’s an actual article. We have a different view of their upcoming season, as you may imagine. As for Russell Wilson, he’s used to it too. Some scouts said he was too short to play in the NFL. Others doubted a player that transferred after three years at a major college. (Personally, I’d say the move to Wisconsin worked out alright, wouldn’t you?)
And now, a panel of 50 NFL experts has decided there are five quarterbacks in the league better than Russell Wilson. Just so you know before you jump on the link, it’s an EPSN Insider article, so if you don’t have a subscription, you won’t see much.
Mike Sando of ESPN put it all together, but as he says, he’s backed by 50 NFL experts. This year, his panel was comprised of five head coaches, five quarterback coaches, 10 general managers, 10 coordinators, 10 senior personnel executives, and 10 assorted nuts and bolts, including an assistant coach, a salary cap manager, and an analytics director. I’d really like to know where the analytics director placed Wilson.
Russell Wilson didn’t meet the top standard, somehow
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Here’s the standard. There are five tiers in all, ranging from the best in tier one, naturally, all the way down to tier five, which is all the guys who should never start a game, even though they’re projected as starters. Russell Wilson is in the second tier, the second quarterback in the second tier in fact, behind Matt Ryan. Don’t get angry yet, 12s. There’s much more to come. Let me give you the definition of a tier two quarterback, then the definition of a tier one QB. Then you can start getting steamed.
"A Tier 2 quarterback can carry his team sometimes, but not as consistently. He can handle pure passing situations in doses and/or possesses other dimensions that are special enough to elevate him above Tier 3. He has a hole or two in his game."
I guess Russell Wilson can only carry his team sometimes, right? He does possess other dimensions that are special, true. Like a career passer rating of 109.5 for the fourth quarter. Too bad he only upped that fourth quarter passer rating to 134.1 last season. I guess he could have shown even more special dimensions, somehow.
Okay, get ready, 12s. Here’s the definition of a tier one quarterback. You know, the guys better than Wilson.
"A Tier 1 quarterback can carry his team each week. The team wins because of him. He expertly handles pure passing situations."
Yeah, I see how the top four quarterbacks carry their team more than Wilson. Wilson, who accounted for an NFL all-time record by creating over 86 percent of his team’s yards. Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers are great, no doubt. Brady had over 1,800 yards rushing backing him up, Rodgers over 1,600 rushing yards. And yes I know he missed nine games last year. The Seahawks, once you take out Wilson’s 586 yards on the ground, managed 1,043 yards rushing. That’s closer to a heart attack than a ground attack. Drew Brees, ranked third, only had a 2,000 yard ground game backing him. And poor Big Ben Roethlisberger, all he had was Le’Veon Bell’s 1,291 yards behind him.
Wilson actually did carry his team
But the NFL experts are right. It’s abundantly clear that those four players can carry their team each week. The difference between them and Russell Wilson is, he did carry his team each week. Let’s look at Big Ben, for one example. In the fourth quarter last year, he threw seven touchdowns and just four picks. And he passed for 54 first downs, too. Pretty great, right? It is until you compare it to what Wilson pulled off. Eighteen touchdowns and one interception is what the Seahawks quarterback did in the fourth quarter last year. I think that qualifies as carrying a team. Especially in “pure” passing situations.
Oops, left out that Wilson only got sacked three times in the fourth all year. He was sacked 39 times in the first three quarters combined. So I guess when a guy only takes three sacks and only throws one pick for the entire season’s of fourth quarters, he isn’t giving his team their best chance to win. My bad, experts!
Listen, Tom Brady is amazing. He also threw just one interception in the fourth quarter last year. He also threw twelve fewer touchdowns that Wilson did in the final quarter. Aaron Rodgers is better than amazing. He threw seven touchdowns and zero picks in the fourth last season. Given that he only played seven games, that’s even more amazing. Extrapolate Rodgers’ stats to a full season, and Wilson still edges him out by two TDs. For the record, for the 2016 fourth quarters, Rodgers had twelve touchdowns and two interceptions, so he tends to do this a lot.
My point isn’t that Wilson is better than Rodgers or Brady – although I’m sure many 12s would make that argument. But to say he’s the sixth best in the league is so wrong-headed, it’s just…well, it’s better to laugh than to curse. So well played, ESPN and your crack panel of NFL experts. You gave me a great laugh today.