Making the Case for Russell Wilson as NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year
The 2012 NFL season is wrapping up and fans have begun talking about which players are deserving of postseason recognition. Pro Bowl ballots are being cast and discussions for MVP and rookie of the year candidates are heating up.
Offensive rookie of the year has been largely narrowed down to three players, with Robert Griffin III leading fellow first-round draft picks Doug Martin and Andrew Luck. All three are having very good rookie seasons.
But there is a certain third-round draft pick by the Seattle Seahawks that has done everything possible to prove he also deserves to be part of the discussion.
Russell Wilson leads rookie quarterbacks with 17 touchdown passes. He has eight interceptions on the season, but just two in the last six games.
With at least two scoring throws in each off his last four games, Wilson is one of the hottest quarterbacks in the NFL. If he continues that pace over the balance of the season, he'll finish the year with 28 touchdown passes.
The current rookie record is 26, held by Peyton Manning.
Randall Liu, NFL's Director of NFC Football Communications, shared some information on just how good Wilson has been playing as of late.
This was the fourth time he's eclipsed that mark, posting a season-high 133.7 against the New England Patriots.
There are other accomplishments worthy of merit as well.
Top passer ratings since Wk 8 among regular starters: Alex Smith 153.2, Brady 117.5, Russell Wilson 115.2, P.Manning 108.0, Brees 107.8.— Mike Sando, ESPN.com (@espn_nfcwest) November 20, 2012
Wilson isn't a flashy pick and he still trails Griffin in passer rating and yards. However, he has led the Seahawks to three fourth-quarter comeback wins and his defense squandered another pair of leads the Seahawks grabbed in the final 15 minutes.
Despite a stellar season so far for Martin, Griffin is likely the current leader. Luck is also in the discussion and it is hard to deny he has the skill set to be the best rookie in this class.
But Wilson has more touchdowns, fewer interceptions, and a better completion percentage, yards per attempt and passer rating than Luck. The top draft pick may have more talent, but Wilson is having a much better season.
It is hard to ignore that Wilson's season got off to a slow start. He was sharing starter reps over the summer and during preseason games, limiting his ability to get complete control of the offense. He was also playing without two of his primary receivers during camp, limiting the ability to build rapport.
There were also some unfortunate bounces that led to early interceptions. Since the offense began to click, though, Wilson has been playing as well as almost any quarterback in the league.
Who's the leading candidate for Offensive ROY?
The biggest knock against Wilson so far is that he's struggled on the road. On the surface that looks to be the case, but he's shown in his last two away games that he can thrive away from CenturyLink Field.
His worst statistical performance of the season was against the San Francisco 49ers. He completed just nine of 23 attempts with an interception. But what is lost in the box score is a half-dozen dropped passes, two of which would have likely resulted in touchdowns.
Week 12 is too early to crown an offensive rookie of the year. A third of the season is left to be played and all four of these candidates are attempting to get their teams into the playoffs.
However, leaving Wilson out of the discussions is a major oversight. He's simply played better than Luck and has Griffin within reach.
Wilson has shown an amazing ability to avoid pressure and make plays with his feet when needed. His strong arm has also allowed him to hit receivers in stride on deep routes. Seven of his touchdowns have come on throws travelling at least 21 yards beyond the line of scrimmage.
If Wilson can continue to string together impressive starts, break Peyton Manning's touchdown record and lead his team to the playoffs, he'll be very difficult to ignore.
Well, he should be, at least. Critics that derided the Seahawks for "wasting" a third-round draft pick on a player that is too short to succeed as an NFL quarterback have been slow to accept his spectacular season.
I doubt Russell Wilson is too concerned with what the critics are saying or how the votes will fall for rookie of the year. He's too busy trying to improve and get his team into the playoffs.
Darin Pike is a writer for Bleacher Report's Breaking News Team and a Featured Columnist covering the NFL and the Seattle Seahawks.
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