Russell Wilson Has An Easier Path to Future Success Than RGIII
He may have a stud running back in Marshawn Lynch and one of the best defenses in the league to help him out, but Wilson has proven to be better than the third-round pick the Seattle Seahawks took him with.
There was a lot of hype surrounding the former Wisconsin quarterback before the season started, and part of that can be attributed to Bill Simmons who ranked Wilson as his No. 1 QB and predicted he would lead Seattle to the Super Bowl. However, despite high expectations and Wilson’s abysmal play in the first few games of the year, it looks as though he might just end up being a franchise quarterback after all.
Right now, he is only in the middle of the pack in terms of Total Quarterback Rating (QBR), ranked 15th overall, but that’s not bad considering this is his first year in the league. More importantly, what actually matters is winning, and we all know that Wilson got lucky in that Green Bay game, but right now his team is 5-4 and would have the sixth seed in the playoffs in the NFC if the season were over today.
As for RGIII, he is 10th in QBR, but he is on a team that is injury-riddled on the defensive side of the ball, and his top wideout, Pierre Garcon, has been out for the majority of the year thus far with a foot issue.
But let’s take a closer look at Griffin, who caught the NFL by surprise in September. In nine games, he has thrown eight touchdown passes and run for six more scores. He has two fumbles, just three interceptions, an impressive completion rate of 65.6 percent, and he has thrown for an average of 221.4 yards a game.
However, in his last two games, Griffin completed an average of just 53.5 percent of his passes, and after averaging 267.5 passing yards per game in his first four outings, he has averaged 208 yards per game in his most recent four contests.
Now, there are still seven games left for RGIII to get his numbers back up, and he has a bye week to recoup, but when you look at how he has slowed down so quickly and you start thinking about the future…it just seems like we may have prematurely gotten our hopes up. It’s still completely possible, but it might not be a guarantee that he is actually going to become the superstar we thought he already was after seeing him dominate NFL defenses in his first few games.
More generally, quarterbacks who rely on their legs do not have a favorable history of stringing together continued success in the NFL, and Michael Vick is the prime example.
He was able to lead the Atlanta Falcons and the Philadelphia Eagles to moderate success, but he has only won two playoff games so far in his career, and it would be hard to argue that he has played well for the Eagles these past two seasons.
Now, this is not meant to pigeonhole Griffin as a running QB because he is more accurate than Vick, and he has a stronger arm. Vick had tremendous potential when he entered the league, but he clearly hasn’t made the most of it. RGIII, on the other hand, still has the opportunity to become elite.
More importantly, the most pressing issue for the Redskins QB is that defenses seem to be figuring out how to slow down the offense that Mike Shanahan created for him. It appeared that this might be the case when the Redskins scored just 12 points against the Steelers two weeks ago, and it was confirmed when they posted a mere 13 points against the Panthers last Sunday.
Ultimately, what this means is that Griffin is going to be forced to play in a more conventional offense unless Shanahan has a Plan B. Assuming the latter isn’t the case, Griffin certainly could excel in the conventional system. If he does, then there will be little to worry about in terms of his future outlook.
We just don’t know what will happen when that time comes—if he will be able to adjust, or if he will regress. When that time arrives could happen sooner rather than later though because the seat will probably start to heat up for Mike Shanahan if he can’t get this Washington team to at least .500.
As for Russell Wilson, he hasn’t been better than RGIII so far this season. But that’s in the short term. It’s the long term where Russell seems to be in a better situation to find success.
On the other hand, in the most immediate short term, Wilson played better than Griffin in Weeks 8 and 9. In those two games, he threw five touchdowns to one interception, and his team averaged 27 points.
In fact, he has performed admirably in his last four games except versus San Francisco. Against the Patriots, he threw three TD strikes, one that ended up winning the game, and he did struggle mightily against the San Francisco 49ers, but the 49ers are first in the league in points allowed per game, so an inefficient performance shouldn’t be much of a surprise.
Furthermore, he was able to bounce back the next week in Detroit as he completed 71.4 percent of his passes and threw for two touchdowns against the Lions. And then, of course, in his most recent outing, he had maybe his best game of the year other than the New England game as he threw for three TDs in the first half against Minnesota.
In a more general sense, Wilson might not have the flash of RGIII, but he has been able to improve rather than regress. As for the future, Pete Carroll is going to be patient with him to give him a real chance of reaching his high ceiling while it seems like Mike Shanahan is keeping RGIII from growing as a player by confining him in a system that has a strong chance of becoming obsolete.
Washington fans have every reason to be wary of their offense and if it continues to struggle to put up points in the next few weeks then a major change in either philosophy or personnel could be coming.
Meanwhile, there is a lot to look forward to for Seattle fans. Drew Brees, who is just one inch taller than Wilson at 6’0”, entered the NFL in 2001 and failed to throw for over 17 touchdown passes and less than double-digit interceptions until 2004 when he threw 27 touchdown passes and just seven interceptions.
Three years is a while from now, and it is a complete mystery where Wilson will be then, but he has the type of ability that will allow him to become an elite quarterback.
RGIII has that potential also. It’s just that Wilson has an easier track to get there because he is being given a chance to settle into a system that can be counted on. It might take him a while to develop, but it took Drew Brees a while, and he turned out to be pretty good.