Note: This is my Jan. 15 Crunch Time column I wrote for the Cheney Free Press
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson put on an impressive performance in Seattle’s 31-17 win over the Carolina Panthers in the NFC divisional playoff game. Besides Kam Chancellor’s pick for a 90-yard touchdown, Wilson was the star of the night. He completed 15 of 22 passes for 268 yards and three touchdowns. In a postgame interview, former Seahawks quarterback Warren Moon praised Wilson for his performance.
“That ball, that was some of the best touch you will ever see,” Moon said.
The Seahawks’ have had some great quarterbacks over the years. Jim Zorn, who played for Seattle from 1976-83, was the team’s first quarterback. Dave Krieg (1981-91) led the Seahawks to its first conference title in 1983. Matt Hasselbeck (2001-10) brought Seattle to its first Super Bowl. Wilson is in a place where he’s breaking out of that rookie role and becoming a cornerstone of the franchise. While he’s only in his third season as a starting quarterback, I think Wilson is on the verge of being the best quarterback in Seahawks history.
Wilson started in 2012 after Seattle picked him in the third round of the draft. He was intended to play backup to Tarvaris Jackson, who was brought to Seattle to replace the departing Hasselbeck. Wilson impressed the coaching staff so much during the organized team activities and minicamps that head coach Pete Carroll named him the starting quarterback for the 2012 season. In his rookie year, he completed 252 of 393 passes with 3,118 yards and 26 touchdowns in the regular season and rushed for 489 yards with four touchdowns. The next year — Seattle’s championship-winning season — he completed 257 of 407 passes for 3,357 yards and 26 touchdowns and rushed for 539 yards with one TD.
The 2014 regular season went well for Wilson. He completed 285 of 452 passes for 3,475 yards — the most in his NFL career so far — and 20 touchdowns. His rushing numbers also took a significant leap as he ran for 849 yards and six touchdowns. In the 28-26 overtime loss to St. Louis Rams on Oct. 19, Wilson became the first quarterback in NFL history to pass for over 300 yards and rush for over 100. He currently has the highest playoff passer rating of any quarterback in NFL history with 109.6 percent.
If you’re looking at championships, his one Super Bowl title has already surpassed all of the other teams quarterbacks. If the Seahawks win another Super Bowl, he’ll join an elite club of quarterbacks that have won back-to-back championships. These names include Bart Starr (1967-68), Bob Griese (1973-74), Terry Bradshaw (1975-76 and 79-80), Joe Montana (1989-90), Troy Aikman (1993-94) and John Elway (1998-99). Tom Brady was the last quarterback to accomplish feat this back in 2004-05.
In terms of statistics, Wilson has a long way to go. In team career passing records for the Seahawks Wilson is first in completion percentage (63.4 percent), fourth in yards (9,094) and touchdowns (72) and fifth in completions (794). Hasselbeck currently holds 36 Seahawks franchise records. Still, Wilson is only in his third year with the team and if he stays with Seattle long enough, he has a good chance of moving up the franchise’s rankings.
Wilson is also on the verge of being the league’s highest paid quarterback. According to NFL.com’s Ian Rappaport, Seattle is expected to sign Wilson to a long-term contract extension at the end of the season.
Wilson signed a $2.99 rookie contract in 2012, making less than $1 million per year. Some critics argue that he isn’t at the point where he could be making more than Packers quarterback Aaron Rogers, who currently sits at the top of the league’s pay list with a five-year, $110 million contract. Wilson and Rogers will go head-to-head this weekend when the Seahawks face the Packers in the NFL championship game, Jan. 17 in Seattle. If Wilson helps the Seahawks get past the Packers and onto another Super Bowl, I’d say he’s worth every penny.