How Good is Russell Wilson?

Russell-Wilson V
Launching the bomb with his Howitzer Arm

 They Call him Dangeruss!

Every time the question is raised regrding Russell Wilson’s standing among  today’s quarterbacks in the National Football League, whose  teams contain the greatest football players on earth, we get ambiguous prattle that damn him with faint praise like the following comment from football Sean Thomlinson of Bleacher Report: “

The human mind falls victim to recency bias far too easily, so foremost in our memories right now are Wilson’s two overtime throws that sealed an improbable comeback. It’s convenient to forget that until the 3:52 mark of the fourth quarter Wilson had eight completions, and he was the reason a series of miraculous events were needed to resuscitate title defense hopes.”

Sean offers this observation in an article titled “Russell Wilson’s Decision-Making Is a Concern Heading into Super Bowl,” where he also tells us “If Wilson’s decision-making and accuracy don’t reverse course swiftly, the Seahawks could have a repeat performance of the NFC Championship Game, just without the ending.” And to unambiguously demonstrate his point he reminds us that “Russell Wilson had a 0.0% accuracy rating under pressure in NFCCG. Just digest that. 0-of-6 with 5 sacks. Still won.” Wow!  Speak of damming with faint praise.  While the facts speak for themselves, what they actually mean depends upon how the observer interprets them; it’s the old bottle half empty or half full conundrum.

As for me, I think Thomlinson is emphasizing the wrong things.  I watched the game and what left the most lasting impression on me is the fact that Brady threw as many interceptions as Wilson when you consider the fact that two of the picks attributed to Wilson were dead on strikes but were dropped by the receivers.  And instead of overemphasizing the fact that Wilson had a bad first half, I am amazed by his poise under pressure; his never say die attitude; his ability to lift the morale of his players and inspire them to believe they can win, even as all the objective facts suggest that to continue to believe is a retreat into fantasy, and the consummate skills and superb judgment to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds and make the plays he needs to make while leading his team to victory!  That’s what left the lasting impression on me in the NFC championship game.

Russell Launches the bomb where only his reciever can get it……
Russell Wilson launching the bomb
………..And Kearse Cradles it for the Win!
Russell puts ball in Kerses arms to win
A Missile from Mr. Magic gets the W!

The more I watch young Russell Wilson the more I am convinced that he is capable of making any play the situation requires in order to win.  In an era of Fantasy Football which is obsessed with personal statistics Russell only cares about the win….which is the only statistic that matters to the entire team.  And, although many fans and commentators alike seem to forget it….winning is why you play the game!  If, as Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells points out, “you are what the numbers say you are,” Russ has got some very good numbers.

In terms of personal records, based on the length of time he has played in the NFL nobody can boast a better one.  For instance, he tied Peyton Manning’s all-time passing record for a rookie, and he set an all-time record by rushing for over a hundred yards and passing for over three hundred yards in a single game.  His quarterback efficiency record in playoff games was higher than Aaron Roger’s coming into the 2015 NFL Championship game; he is only quarterback in the history of the League to start in two Super Bowls during his first three years, and he is the winningest quarterback ever after playing his first three seasons in the NFL.

Despite this amazing record we still have people saying crazy things like he is “just a game manager,” or “he’s not that good a passer.”  Part of this reflects the desperation of disillusioned white guys who are suffering from an overload of black dominance in football.  Like me they have witnessed professional and major college football become increasingly dominated by black athletes.  However the quarterback position – which is equivalent to a Captain of a ship. Or the commander of a combat brigade in terms of his leadership responsibilities in running the operation – remained a white boy preserve long after the other positions were being masterfully and often spectacularly played by Afro-American athletes.

There was a mythology developed around the quarterback position that only Caucasian males had the right stuff – rapid decision making, accurate passing, poise and calm in the face of charging defensive lineman, etc.  – to effectively play the quarterback position.  Fran Tarkington, the Minnesota Vikings quarterback who lost four Super Bowls announced that he though guys with “blond hair and blue eyes” made the best quarterbacks.  He was of course blue eyed with blond hair.

However Dog Williams, a black man of “deepest dye” – as the 18th century Afro-American scientists Benjamin Banneker described himself to Thomas Jefferson in a letter calling Jefferson out about a racist remark he had made regarding Africans – murdered that myth when he humiliated John Elway in a crushing defeat of the Denver Bronco’s by the Washington Reskins in the Super Bowl.  The fact that the big blond blue eyed Elway looked like a Teutonic super hero, proved no advantage as Williams went on the set nine records in the championship game.

By the time Russell Wilson entered the NFL in 2012 black quarterbacks were no longer exotic figures, the lone exception that proved the rule, and rather than denouncing the athletic mobility that black quarterbacks bring to the game, they were being celebrated as “dual threat” quarterbacks – Randall Cunningham, .“Air” McNair, Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick, Colin Kapernick, RGIII, et al.   Ironically, in the contest between John Elway and Doug Williams it was Elway that was the “duel threat” and Williams was strictly a pocket passer who has said “I don’t believe in the quarterback running the ball.”

Yet, ironically, white quarterbacks have always been celebrated for their ability to “scramble” i.e. run away from the defensive players to avoid a sack should the pocket break down before they have an open receiver to throw to without fear of in interception.  Tarkington was famous for his scrambling ability, as was Elway and Roger Stauback aka “Roger the Dodger.”  In fact Bill Belichek, the great coach of the New England Patriots who will oppose Russell in the Super Bowl, and is tasked with stopping him, recently compared Russell to Staubach who is a first ballot Hall of Famer.

The hood wearing Belichek looks like the Grim Reaper in a bad mood and is notorious as a mumbler, a man of few words, who appears to be in pain each time he utters a word, yet he has been effusive in his praise of Wilson.  After studying Wilson on film Coach Belichek said the Seattle quarterback did everything well and “seemed to have a sixth sense about where the defensive men are” and this is what enable him to make spectacular running or throwing the ball.”  However draft “experts,” like the much celebrated Mel Kiper, denounced Coach Pete Carroll and the Seattle GM for drafting Russell Wilson, who they said was a good college quarterback but had about the same chance of surviving in the pros as a snowball in a pizza oven.

Watching video of Kiper and other wise guy naysayers at the time is an unending source of amusement for me.  Especially in view of the fact that some people saw Russell for the great player that he has always proven to be.  One of those who recognized his special gifts was his coach at the University of Wisconsin, Bret Bielema. Having graduated from North Carolina State University in three years, Russell was drafted by several baseball teams and spent a year on a Major League farm team before realizing that he would rather play professional football.  Since he had a year of college football eligibility left Wilson looked around for a team with a pro-style offense then applied to the University of Wisconsin to play his final year of college football.

Aside from their pass oriented pro-style offense Wilson was attracted by their huge offensive line whose shortest member was 6’ 5” and averaged over 320 pounds.  They would have been the fourth largest line in the NFL; hence Wilson would get a chance to show that he could throw the ball accurately behind the kind of huge offensive lineman he would encounter on the professional level.  And the person who had the best view of his performance that year was his head coach Bret Bielema, who had done such an impressive job at Wisconsin that he was being wooed by the Miami Dolphins for the head coaching job.

In a recent interview Bielema say he told the Dolphin management that he would guarantee them a Super bowl victory within five years if they took his quarterback Russell Wilson in the upcoming NFL draft.  The coach recollects what happened next: “

“They all looked at me like, ‘You can’t say that. That’s the difference between college and pro. He’s undersized. He can’t throw.’  I was like, ‘OK, all right,’ and I honestly, that day, kind of pulled myself out of it.”

Russell Wilson at Wisconsin
Russell wilson at wisconsin
Russell had no problem throwing the ball behind this massive line

Bielema was so certain that Russell Wilson was going to be a star in professional football that he turned the job down because he was convinced that they didn’t have the necessary vision to produce a championship team.  Well, history has proved him right.  The dolphins drafted Ryan Tannehill and have come nowhere the Super Bowl, whereas Russell will be starting in his second Super Bowl in three years!!!  One can only speculate about the fallout from the decision to take Tannehill over Russ, the proto- typical tall stiff white guy with a big arm over the smaller dual threat black guy, but I’d bet my bottom there are some hurt feelings and puzzlement over that decision…..and I would not be surprised to discover some heads have rolled.

While Russell Wilson is not the first, nor the most spectacular duel threat quarterback in terms of size or athletic prowess – see: “Is Colin Kapernick Transracial?” on this blog – he has been the most successful.  Wilson is the only duel threat quarterback yet to win a Super Bowl, and now he is poised to do it again. His record in games against the so called “elite” quarterbacks, most of whom have won at least one Super Bowl, is 10-0!  And he may well win the 2015 Super Bowl, which would make him the only quarterback to win two Super Bowls in his first three seasons in the NFL: Russell Wilson is a baaaad boy!  That’s why they call him “Dangeruss.”

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Highlights at the University of Wisconsin 2012
http://youtu.be/B8r7wLnb1xc
Highlighs from Pro Career
http://youtu.be/tdxvM2FySEg
Russell Dancing with Gransma Carroll
http://youtu.be/4SzLD983ovs
The throw that won the NFC Championship
http://youtu.be/MzvsIi7p2-0
Steven A: Damming Russ with faint praise
http://youtu.be/tJMdsoH_1HA

 

Playthell G. Benjamin
Feburary 1, 2014

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