The Seattle Seahawks raised eyebrows during the draft when they selected Russell Wilson of the Wisconsin Badgers in the third round after spending big money on acquiring Matt Flynn in free agency. Wilson went on to surprise everyone by winning the starting job in the preseason, and has continued to defy expectations by leading Seattle to an 8-5 record heading into their Week 15 game against the Buffalo Bills and in control of their playoff destiny. He has one more shocker up his sleeve, however, when he wins the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award at season’s end.
The decision to start Wilson wasn’t a universally popular one for Seahawks’ fans. The team had invested quite a bit of money into Flynn who many thought could turn his limited playing time with the Green Bay Packers into a successful career as a starter in Seattle. Head coach Pete Caroll liked what he saw out of his rookie quarterback, though, and stuck with him through a slow start.
After four starts, there was some grumbling about the play of the rookie signal caller. Seattle sat at just 2-2 and Wilson was averaging less than 150 yards passing per game with four touchdowns and four interceptions. His early struggles were punctuated by a 19-13 loss to the St. Louis Rams where Wilson threw for 160 yards (his season high at that point) but had no touchdowns and three interceptions.
But Wilson has been steadily getting better this season each and every game. Since that loss to the Rams, Wilson has averaged better than 210 yards per game with 16 touchdowns to just five interceptions. He has led the Hawks to wins over the Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots and Chicago Bears as Seattle holds its own destiny in their hands to make the playoffs.
Each week, Wilson has shown us something new as he continues to get better and better as an NFL starting quarterback. He can throw it deep, has accuracy on the intermediate routes, moves well in the pocket and can take off and run when asked to. He remains unphased no matter how pressure packed the situation may be, highlighted by his back-to-back long touchdown drives in Chicago against the Bears defense to close out regulation and then to seal the win in overtime.
He’s continued to show new phases of his game against Buffalo. Coming into Seattle’s trip north of the border, Wilson had scrambled for 310 yards with no touchdowns. Against the Bills, Wilson set a Seattle-franchise record with three rushing touchdowns during a four-touchdown performance…in the first half.
With all due respect to the incredible seasons of Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, nobody is as deserving of the ROY award as Russell Wilson. Nobody has been as consistently excellent as Wilson. Luck has thrown a lot of interceptions on his way to breaking the rookie passing record and RGIII has been sensational, but has also missed time with injuries.
Wilson has been a steady hand all season that continues to improve and impress as he leads the Seahawks with poise and maturity beyond his years. The first-round quarterbacks have gotten the lion’s share of attention this season, but it’s been the third-round steal of the draft who should win Rookie of the Year.