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Russell Wilson by the numbers

Russell Wilson statistical review. All the numbers on your new Denver Broncos quarterback.

NFL: Denver Broncos at Seattle Seahawks Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s start with the few negatives that have been mentioned by the folks over at Field Gulls.

Arguably, Russell Wilson had his worst NFL season in 2021. He missed three starts due to injury (the first time in his career that he has not started every game) and had a QBR of 54.7 (tied for 10th) which was also his worst career QBR. He led no fourth quarter comebacks and only one game-winning drive (both career lows) and he struggled in the red zone with a passer rating of 83.8 (25th among starters - Teddy Bridgewater was better). NFL average was 95.9 (see table of redzone passing below - minimum 20 throws)

Rank Player Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD Int Sk Yds Y/A 1D Rate
1 Jameis Winston 15 20 75 134 10 0 3 -19 6.7 12 132.1
2 Davis Mills 18 27 66.7 127 8 0 4 -29 4.7 12 116.8
3 Baker Mayfield 27 44 61.4 190 12 0 6 -49 4.3 17 110.8
4 Dak Prescott 61 96 63.5 400 25 1 4 -29 4.2 36 107.6
5 Tom Brady 73 120 60.8 433 30 0 4 -25 3.6 42 107.4
6 Kirk Cousins 44 71 62 306 22 1 3 -24 4.3 32 105.4
7 Justin Fields 17 31 54.8 116 5 0 2 -22 3.7 9 103.0
8 Zach Wilson 24 41 58.5 115 6 0 5 -39 2.8 11 102.9
9 Jalen Hurts 32 54 59.3 251 13 1 4 -22 4.6 18 102.7
10 Teddy Bridgewater 32 53 60.4 230 15 1 4 -29 4.3 21 102.2
11 Tua Tagovailoa 34 52 65.4 164 15 1 1 -16 3.2 19 101.3
12 Mac Jones 43 71 60.6 254 16 1 2 -15 3.6 23 101.2
13 Matt Ryan 43 83 51.8 317 18 0 4 -38 3.8 29 100.8
14 Matthew Stafford 61 112 54.5 466 32 1 6 -48 4.2 46 100.7
15 Justin Herbert 58 104 55.8 381 28 1 7 -47 3.7 41 99.4
16 Jimmy Garoppolo 32 55 58.2 213 15 1 2 -11 3.9 19 98.7
17 Ben Roethlisberger 45 87 51.7 285 17 0 4 -22 3.3 24 98.4
18 Carson Wentz 38 67 56.7 246 19 1 7 -45 3.7 25 98.0
19 Trevor Siemian 17 35 48.6 123 10 0 0 0 3.5 12 96.8
20 Ryan Tannehill 49 79 62 338 19 3 7 -50 4.3 31 95.4
21 Aaron Rodgers 63 110 57.3 352 28 2 2 -7 3.2 37 95.2
22 Tyler Huntley 16 24 66.7 81 3 1 4 -15 3.4 7 93.9
23 Patrick Mahomes 61 100 61 330 26 3 7 -30 3.3 37 93.8
24 Josh Allen 66 123 53.7 413 28 2 3 -17 3.4 38 93.6
25 Taylor Heinicke 29 48 60.4 202 12 2 5 -42 4.2 17 92.2
26 Jacoby Brissett 10 22 45.5 34 4 0 0 0 1.5 6 92.0
27 Derek Carr 43 76 56.6 256 17 2 6 -39 3.4 23 91.9
28 Sam Darnold 22 41 53.7 136 7 1 2 -10 3.3 9 90.0
29 Andy Dalton 13 22 59.1 88 5 1 3 -20 4 8 88.6
30 Kyler Murray 37 72 51.4 250 14 2 2 -4 3.5 18 87.4
31 Lamar Jackson 26 47 55.3 181 12 2 4 -21 3.9 16 86.1
32 Daniel Jones 16 42 38.1 70 5 0 4 -20 1.7 7 85.9
33 Jared Goff 25 55 45.5 181 11 1 1 -14 3.3 19 85.7
34 Joe Burrow 32 54 59.3 224 16 3 7 -57 4.1 22 85.2
35 Russell Wilson 24 45 53.3 175 15 2 2 -15 3.9 18 83.8
36 Trevor Lawrence 27 56 48.2 155 7 2 2 -15 2.8 12 79.5
37 Tyrod Taylor 9 23 39.1 59 3 2 2 -13 2.6 4 50.5

Wilson also had a pedestrian passer rating of 83.1 in 2021 when it was close (one score up or down) in the 4th quarter.

His 183 rushing yards was a career low as was his 3.1 rushing attempts per game. At 33 years old having played almost 158 of a possible 161 regular season games over the past ten seasons, Wilson has taken plenty of hits and played through plenty quite a bit. He has been sacked 427 times in his career. He is currently 14th on the all-time career sacked list and could move into the top 10 in 2022. Among active quarterbacks only Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan have been sacked more.

Russell Wilson is short. He’s listed as 5’11”, but most say that’s an exaggeration and that he’s really 5’10”. But whatever his height, he generally does not get passes batted at the LOS. He had zero in 2018 and three in 2021. For comparison, 6’5” Josh Allen had 15 batted passes in 2021.

According to pro-football-reference.com Wilson was 17th in pass accuracy (on-target %) in 2021 with a score of 76.5 percent and he had the ninth highest bad throw percentage in the league at 18.6 percent (tied with Matthew Stafford but still better than some guy named Patrick Mahomes). In 2020, Wilson was the seventh most accurate passer by on-target percentage and only 15.8 percent of his throws were “bad” throws (13th best). PFR only has data back to 2018, but Wilson has alternated between fifteen percent and eighteen percent “bad” throws every year for the last four. For reference, Joe Burrow was the most accurate passer in the league in 2021 with a bad throw percentage of 10.7.

Ok. That was the “bad” news. Now a whole bunch of good news.

2015-2021 inclusive Bronco quarterbacks have thrown 21 more touchdown passes than interceptions. Over that same time, Wilson is +160.

Wilson is currently 4th on the career passer rating list - ahead of three (recent or soon) first-ballot hall-of-famers. He was fifth in passer rating in 2021 and it was, arguably, his worst year in the NFL. Despite that he still had a passer rating of 103.1. SISdatahub.com gives him an IQR (their version of QBR) of 104.7 which was 8th best in the league (Rodgers was #1 at 114.8). His IQR on deep throws (90) was 10th best in the league (Carson Wentz led the league with a value of 109). For reference Teddy Bridgewater had a 57 in 2021.

Even at the age of 33, Wilson could play at an elite level for another six or more years.

Another short QB named Drew Brees was still playing at an elite level until he hit 40. Aaron Rodgers won the MVP in 2021 at the age of 38. Tom Brady is a zombie so we won’t discuss him. Peyton Manning set multiple single season records with the Denver Broncos at the age of 37. Sure, you could look at Wilson’s line above (thick orange) and read that 2021 was the beginning of his decline (as some Seahawk fans want to believe), or you could look at Wilson’s 2021 as an aberration similar to Rodger’s 2015 season (age of 32) when he played hurt for most of the year and had one of his worst seasons.

I choose to look at 2021 as a blip and I fully expect Wilson to return to his career normal form in Nathaniel Hackett’s offense with Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton, Tim Patrick and K.J. Hamler giving defenses fits because they now have a QB that can both hit them on deep passes and throw them open. Wilson has been significantly above league average in completion percentage every season except for three years (2014, 2017 and 2021). In 2015 he was third in completion percentage behind Kirk Cousins (69.8) and Drew Brees (68.3). His career completion percentage is 65.0. From 2015-2021 inclusive, all Bronco passers completed 60.8 percent of their passes. By raw numbers Wilson has completed 2285 of 3483 passes during this time, while all Bronco passers have completed 2389 of 3931.

Recently the NFL has now seen three elite QBs change teams late in their careers and lead their new team the Lombardi trophy (Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Matthew Stafford). Could Russell Wilson be the fourth?