Why Seattle Seahawks' Sidney Rice is a No. 1 Wide Receiver

By Bob Kaupang
Sidney Rice, Seattle Seahawks
John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

There are some people who say that Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Sidney Rice is overrated and overpaid. I disagree. I believe that Rice is every bit the No. 1 receiver they signed him to be, even if the statistics don’t seem to agree.

Lets take a look at the numbers of Rice in 2012. He had 50 receptions (80 targets) for 748 yards and seven touchdowns. His longest gain was 46 yards, while averaging 15 yards per reception.

Lets take a look at a receiver who had similar numbers last season. This player had 71 receptions (153 targets) for 798 yards and four touchdowns. His longest gain was 37 yards, while only averaging 11.2 yards per reception.

If you ask most fans or coaches who is the best wide receiver in the NFL they will give you one of two answers. They will either say Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions or Larry Fitzgerald of the Arizona Cardinals. Well, the player I just compared Rice to is Fitzgerald.

Sure, you can say that Fitzgerald was hampered by bad quarterback play in 2012, and you’d be right. However, Cardinals’ quarterbacks Kevin Kolb, John Skelton and Ryan Lindley combined for 3,053 yards passing last season, while Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson threw for 3,118 yards.

The passing yards of the three stooges in Arizona is 65 yards less than Wilson over the season, except Fitzgerald receives sympathy for his quarterback play, and yet Rice is blamed for not having more impact while having a quarterback put up similar passing yards? I don’t get it.

To be clear, in the grad scheme of things, I do not think Rice is as good as Fitzgerald, but I do think he’s one of the better receivers in the NFL.

There is only one time in the career of Rice when he played with a quarterback who put up elite numbers, and that was when he had Brett Favre throwing to him as a member of the Minnesota Vikings in 2009. That season, Rice had over 1,300 yards and earned a trip to the Pro Bowl.

Am I saying that Wilson isn’t an elite quarterback? Yes and No. He was not a good NFL quarterback in the first half of last season. Almost at the midway point last year, there were many fans who wanted to start Matt Flynn over Wilson. Sure, there were plenty of Wilson supporters, but they became pretty quiet after each unimpressive statistical start.

However, if I were starting an NFL franchise from scratch and I could take any player it would be Wilson or Andrew Luck. I would consider noone else. That’s how great I think Rice’s quarterback is going to be.

Moving forward, do I think Wilson is elite? Yes, though that doesn’t take away the fact that Rice was hampered because offensive coordinator, Darrell Bevell, wouldn’t open up the playbook for him earlier in the season and the stats of Rice suffered for it.

I blame the offensive playcalling more than I blame Wilson, yet I can see why the coaches would want to protect a rookie quarterback, too.

With that being said, why is it okay for people to criticize Rice for having a bad statistical year when he had a bad statistical quarterback with respect to yards thrown? Maybe Rice is getting penalized for his statistics because Wilson is a great running quarterback and that somehow means he should have more yards receiving even though the quarterback is throwing for less yards? I don’t know.

I would gladly take Wilson and his limited passing yards if it meant having a TD/INT ratio of 26-10 like this past season. However, don’t blame Rice and his “lack of production” when there is only so many receiving yards to go around. With this being the case, we know the stats of Wilson are going to improve even more moving into the future, and so we shouldn’t be surprised when those of Rice do, too.

Wilson has a No. 1 receiver, and it’s time for Bevell to call plays to get the ball to Rice like he did when he was the offensive coordinator for the Vikings in 2009. If Wilson puts up Pro Bowl-worthy stats in 2013 with respect to passing yards, you can bet that Rice will too.

Bob is a Seattle Seahawks writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on twitter @seahawksbob.

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