ColdHardFootballFacts.com is an NFL-specific web site that boasts, “We don’t do feel-good stories here . . . We serve hard facts to men who want to get drunk on the truth.” In a post published a few days after the Seahawks blistered the New York Jets, CHFF argued that in its fixation with Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, the national media has “largely ignored” Russell Wilson.
No surprise there. Because of time zone, East Coast bias and Wilson’s draft status, the Seahawks quarterback will never be a part of this year’s Luck/RGIII conversation.
“Fans and so many analysts are committed to a storyline first and the reality second,” the site opined. “When a player comes in as the No. 1 overall pick with a $14.5 million signing bonus while making about $5 million per year (Luck), the expectation is that he will be a great player.
“He need only show the tiniest hints of living up to the hype for the pigskin ‘pundits’ to start feeding the fire with hyperbole – and certainly that’s what we’ve seen around Luck in recent weeks, and especially around his largely statistically non-descript effort against the terrible Jaguars.
“An after-thought guy like Wilson has to prove himself over and again before folks finally take notice. Hell, Tom Brady had to win three Super Bowls and then throw a record 50 TD passes in a single season before most fans and observers finally admitted he’s probably as good as Peyton Manning.”
Cold Hard Football Facts is correct when it says that pedigree matters in the NFL, that those without it have to work harder to earn the same level of respect as those who enter the league with it. Luck has the pedigree as the No. 1 overall pick and Griffin as the No. 2. As a third-round draft choice, and more significantly a quarterback who stands just 5-foot-11, Wilson does not have that pedigree – yet. But he’s acquiring it rapidly.
“Listen, the reality is this: Andrew Luck is good. He may go on to be very good,” CHFF said. “He may in fact live up to the hype of a No. 1 overall pick, win Super Bowls, and reach the Hall of Fame. We hope he does. But right now, here today, Luck is only the third best rookie quarterback in football behind Robert Griffin III and certainly behind Russell Wilson.”
The site worked up a chart listing the top 10 single-game passer ratings produced by this year’s starting rookie quarterbacks, including Griffin, Luck, Miami’s Ryan Tannehill, Cleveland’s Brandon Weeden and Wilson. The web site published the list before last Sunday’s games, when Griffin III produced a 158.3, or perfect rating, by completing 14 of 15 passes for 200 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions in 31-6 Redskins victory over Philadelphia.
Adding Griffin III’s 158.3 to the Cold Hard Football Facts.com list, the rookie from Baylor owns the season’s top two single-game passer ratings. He also notched a 139.9 Sept. 9 at New Orleans.
Griffin further produced the ninth-best single-game passer rating, 108.9, in an Oct. 21 game against the New York Giants, giving him three of the top 10 spots.
But Wilson has produced four of the top 10, including a 133.7 rating against New England, a 131.0 against the Jets, a 127.3 against the Vikings and a 112.7 against the Cowboys.
Luck made the list only at No. 10 with a 107.5 rating, achieved against the Vikings.
Griffin owns the highest season passer rating among rookie quarterbacks at 101.0 to second-place Wilson’s 90.5. But Wilson has thrown more touchdown passes than Griffin, 15 to 12. Luck also has 12 TD passes, but 12 interceptions (to Wilson’s eight), helping account for his pedestrian 77.2 passer rating, third among rookie quarterbacks.
More important, Wilson has led his team to a 6-4 start after 10 games. Griffin III’s Redskins are 4-6 while Luck’s Colts are also 6-4.
Passer rating is hardly a definitive measure of a quarterback, failing as it does to reflect a host of factors, including leadership, play-calling, rushing yards and won-lost record, among others. But the passer rating system, devised in 1971 by Don Smith of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, says a lot about a quarterback’s ability to throw the ball effectively.
While ColdHardFootballFacts.com looked at the top 10 single-game passer ratings by rookie quarterbacks this season, let’s take a longer look, at the top 20 single-game ratings by rookie quarterbacks selected in the first round of the NFL Draft since 2000, with Wilson included for comparison purposes even though the Seahawks selected him in the third round last spring.
|2012||Nov. 18||Robert Griffin III||Wash||Phil||158.3|
|2004||Dec. 5||B. Roethlisberger||Pitt||JAX||158.0|
|2011||Dec. 24||Cam Newton||Car||TB||142.4|
|2012||Sept. 9||Robert Griffin III||Wash||NO||139.9|
|2008||Nov. 2||Matt Ryan||Atl||Oak||138.4|
|2008||Nov. 9||Matt Ryan||Atl||NO||134.0|
|2012||Oct. 14||Russell Wilson||Sea||NE||133.7|
|2012||Nov. 11||Russell Wilson||Sea||NYJ||131.0|
|2008||Nov. 30||Matt Ryan||Atl||SD||130.2|
|2006||Dec. 24||Vince Young||Tenn||Buff||127.7|
|2011||Oct. 23||Cam Newton||Car||Wash||127.5|
|2012||Nov. 4||Russell Wilson||Sea||Min||127.3|
|2009||Nov. 29||Josh Freeman||TB||Atl||118.5|
|2011||Oct. 30||Cam Newton||Car||Min||117.6|
|2010||Nov. 28||Sam Bradford||StL||Den||113.3|
|2009||Nov. 22||Matt Stafford||Det||Clev||112.7|
|2012||Sept. 16||Russell Wilson||Sea||Dal||112.7|
|2010||Oct. 31||Sam Bradford||StL||Car||112.4|
|2012||Oct. 14||Ryan Tannehill||Mia||StL||112.0|
|2012||Oct. 21||Robert Griffin III||Wash||NYG||108.9|
That’s a whole lot of Wilson. In fact, note that Wilson shows up four times to three times for Griffin III, Cam Newton and Matt Ryan and two times for Sam Bradford. Andrew Luck is nowhere on the list.
Wilson also owns the following ranks among this year’s starting rookie quarterbacks:
- No. 1 in TD passes (15) ahead of Griffin and Luck (both 12)
- No. 1 in TD percentage (5.9) nearly double Luck’s number (2.8)
- No. 2 in completion percentage (62.1), behind Griffin’s 67.1
- No. 2 in passer rating (90.5), behind Griffin’s 101.1
- T2 in yards per attempt (7.2), a shade behind Griffin (7.9) and tied with Luck
- No. 3 in INT percentage (3.2) behind Griffin (1.1) and Luck (2.5)
The numbers for Wilson are impressive, especially considering he’s the lowest-paid player among rookie quarterbacks, and the least likely quarterback to put up the numbers he has. But even if Wilson finishes with better numbers than Griffin III and Luck, he still won’t win the Rookie of the Year award. As CHFF suggested, he just didn’t enter the NFL with a good enough pedigree to please the pundits.