It was no secret that 2022 was definitely not a year of riding for Russell Wilson (unless you count all the fans riding his a$$ for not being as good as expected/hoped).
But one area that his game remained strong was the deep ball.
And among the rest of the quarterbacks in the league, he was a leader, even in the top 10.
Nick Shook of NFL.com ranked QBs by their deep ball success for a second year and Wilson came out No. 7 - just behind Patrick Mahomes. What’s even more interesting is that his No. 7 ranking this past season was one rank better than his 2021 season, according to Shook’s metrics.
The key metrics to Shook’s ranking — expected completion percentage and completion percentage above expectation — include a little explainer:
xComp (expected completion percentage): a quarterback’s average “completion probability,” which represents the aggregate level of difficulty of a set of pass attempts.
CPOE (completion percentage above expectation): the difference between a quarterback’s actual completion percentage and expected completion percentage, controlling for the level of difficulty of each pass.
The top 10 ranking even shocked Shook.
“When I started this exercise, I didn’t think Wilson would have much of a chance at ending up in the top 10, primarily because, well, he had a bad season,” he wrote. “But despite the wide-ranging problems with Denver’s offense in 2022, Wilson was surprisingly effective when it came to airing it out.”
Was anyone better at throwing downfield than the Seahawks' Geno Smith in 2022? @TheNickShook uses @NextGenStats to identify the top 10 deep passers from last seasonhttps://t.co/1QW4yre7i9 pic.twitter.com/UV9w4APVkP— Around The NFL (@AroundTheNFL) June 1, 2023
Completing 26 of 73 deep passes for 1,008 yards, Wilson had a 6:2 TD-to-INT ratio and a 99.8 passer rating:
Deep comp: 35.6%
Deep xComp: 33.7%
Deep CPOE: +1.9%
PASSING SCORE (on deep attempts): 99
By comparison, Patrick Mahomes - who ranked No. 6 on Shook’s list - took shots of 20+ yards only 53 times and connected on 21 of them for just over 700 yards and 1:0 touchdown-to-INT ratio.
Shook noted that part of the dip in Wilson’s score was his frustratingly common tendency to hang on to the ball too long before finding a target. That problem, mixed with playing a little slower, combined for disaster in the pocket.
“I’m not trying to rewrite history here. We all suffered enough when watching the Denver Broncos’ offense last season to know things weren’t exactly great,” Shook wrote, adding that Wilson wasn’t “elite” when throwing deep, as reflected by his CPOE on deep threats. “However, one cannot deny that Wilson put points and yards on the board with his passes downfield.”
Finishing just ahead of Wilson and Mahomes is Kirk Cousins at 5, Dak Prescott at 4, Jalen Hurts at 3 and Tua Tagovailoa at 2.
Perhaps the irony of all ironies is that the No. 1 QB for the deep ball last year was Wilson’s replacement at the Seahawks, Geno Smith. Smith completed almost 50% of his deep passes and had a 13:2 TD-to-INT ratio.
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