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)
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.
Russell Wilson is 4th in career passer rating behind Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers and Deshaun Watson. He's ahead of Drew Bress, Tom Brady, and Peyton Manning. https://t.co/9obQECT6Zo— Joseph Mahoney (@ndjomo76) March 8, 2022
Even at the age of 33, Wilson could play at an elite level for another six or more years.
Russell Wilson has been quite good for most of his career. I'd say elite. Not only that but he has been durable. pic.twitter.com/RydS02eI4z— Joseph Mahoney (@ndjomo76) March 8, 2022
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?