August 29, 2012

Will Russell Wilson Shock the World?

By - Andy Garcia

The Seattle Seahawks have not had a prolific season by a quarterback since the 2007 campaign. And even then, Matt Hasselbeck was nothing more than an efficient passer.

Things may finally change this season.

The starting quarterback for Week 1 against the Arizona Cardinals was named this past Sunday -- and no, it was not newly signed free agent Matt Flynn.

Instead, rookie Russell Wilson will get the nod.

Photo by: Joe Mahoney
Considering the Seahawks just signed Flynn this past March to a 3-year, $19.5 million contract with $10 million in guaranteed money, you would have thought he'd be the starter come Week 1. Many people may be shocked that Flynn won't be starting. However, if you've been following Seattle through their first 3 preseason games, you know that giving Wilson the job was practically a no-brainer.

In those games, he completed 67.3% of his throws, threw 5 touchdowns passes (also ran for a score) and only 1 interception. Wilson is also averaging another 50 yards rushing per game.

In his defense, Flynn has not had a bad preseason himself. He just hasn't been as spectacular as Wilson has.

The casual fan may be surprised at how polished the 3rd-round pick from the University of Wisconsin has looked thus far. But again, if you've been paying close attention to Wilson since his days in college, you know that this kid is the real deal.

After red shirting in 2007 at North Carolina State, Wilson was able to get some playing time during the 2008 regular season. He started the final 7 games and led the Wolfpack to 4-consecutive wins to close the season. He became the first freshman in conference history to earn First-Team All-ACC quarterback honors.

In 2009, Wilson shattered the all-time NCAA record of 325 consecutive pass attempts without an interception with a 389 attempt streak.

The following season was another productive year for Wilson, in which he led the ACC in passing and NC State to a 9-4 record -- including a bowl game victory over West Virginia.

After a brief stint in Class-A baseball with the Colorado Rockies organization, Wilson decided to transfer to the University of Wisconsin for the 2011 football season.

In just one season with the Badgers, he managed to win Big Ten Quarterback of the Year honors, Third Team All-American honors, a top 10 finish in the Heisman Trophy voting, and a Wisconsin single-season record for passing touchdowns (33). More importantly, Wilson set the single-season FBS record for passing efficiency with a 191.8 rating.

So will he be a successful starting quarterback in the NFL?

We all know the college game is much different than the pros, and many times a player's skill set doesn't always carry over well to the NFL.

But Russell Wilson is no Tim Tebow.

On top of his explosiveness scrambling with the football (he ran a 4.55 sec. 40-yard dash at the NFL combine), Wilson has always been an efficient passing quarterback. He is super accurate. If given the chance to re-watch Seattle's preseason games this past month, you will witness the veteran-like poise he demonstrates in the pocket and his lack of fear when it comes to squeezing throws into tight windows.

Several experts have gone on record to say that if it wasn't for Wilson's short stature, he could have easily been a 1st-round selection, possibly even the No. 1 overall pick. He's listed at 5'11, much shorter than a desired height for today's NFL QB.

That is why many have overlooked him (pun intended).

Wilson's listed weight is 206 pounds, which also may be considered too low for an NFL QB. Michael Vick is a similar type quarterback, has a similar profile standing 6 feet and weighing in at 215 pounds, and he is constantly getting injured and knocked out of games. Durability might seem like an issue for Wilson, but he has been virtually injury free over the course of his career, suffering only a minor knee sprain in college.

Drew Brees has proven that a smaller quarterback can be an elite passer in the National Football League, and durable as well. At times, even more so than some of the stout, 6'5 QBs. Brees is listed at 6'0 and 209 pounds, also very similar to Wilson.

Don't get the wrong idea and think that I am saying Russell Wilson will be the next Drew Brees. He has a very long ways to go before he can be in the conversation with Brees and his outstanding career accomplishments. The main point I am trying to make is that just because Wilson isn't as big as NFL scouts would like him to be, doesn't mean that he won't succeed at the highest level.

Most young QBs have growing pains in their first few NFL seasons. Wilson hasn't looked like a rookie out of the gate. He's played just as well, if not better, than the top 2 picks -- Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, both of whom many believe are as NFL-ready as can be coming out of college.

Pete Carroll was basically forced to let Wilson be the starter given how well he has performed. But regardless of that, this is a win-win decision for him. If Wilson ends up continuing his exceptional play throughout the regular season, Carroll will look like a genius. But if Wilson winds up hitting the dreaded rookie wall, then it won't look too bad going back to Flynn later in the year.

After all, what was Carroll supposed to do with Wilson lighting it up in the preseason, right?

It's difficult for Carroll to justify not starting a player the team just signed to a multi-year deal a few months back, which begs the question -- why didn't he just give Matt Flynn the starting job from the get-go rather than have a competition for the position?

Perhaps Carroll simply saw the extraordinary potential in Russell Wilson, and decided to let him show the rest of the world that he was capable of surpassing Flynn on the depth chart.

Still, the regular season hasn't even begun yet, so it's too early to say whether Wilson will live up to the hype and help the Seahawks continue their impressive play.

I think they may be on to something though.


  1. I was hoping the whole time going into the draft that the chiefs would take Wilson in the 2nd round and was so mad when they passed up on him.

    1. They could definitely use him. I don't see Cassel being a franchise QB in KC.

  2. The kid has looked good so far, and with the type of success that rookie quarterbacks have had over the last several seasons I wouldn't be surprised to see his success carry over to the regular season as well.

    1. I agree. You see some rookie QBs doing well, but you can tell they are barely getting by and are more of a fluke than anything else. Not Russell Wilson though. I am very impressed by the throws he's been making.

  3. You gotta believe Wilson is on the shortest leash of any of the rookies starting in week 1, given the money Seattle has invested in Matt Flynn. He's probably only a bad half away at any point in the season from being demoted to second string.

  4. Wilson is my new Idol

  5. I'm glad I was able to obtain Wilson in the second to last round of my fantasy league, because I agree with your analysis Andy