Russell Wilson Is More Than The “Other” Super Bowl Quarterback

The Seattle Seahawks have reached this year’s Super Bowl on the strength of the NFL’s top-rated defense and a powerful rushing attack led by Marshawn Lynch. It is the incredibly efficient play of their quarterback, however, that is being overlooked.

While a good defense and running game are nice luxuries to have in the league these days, they are not as crucial as they once were. Seven of the 12 playoff teams this season ranked in the bottom half of the league on defense and four of the top eight rushing teams missed the playoffs – by a lot (those four teams combined to go 22-41-1).

Passing the ball efficiently, however, is critical to a team’s success. The top seven teams in passing yards per attempt all made the playoffs, including both Super Bowl participants (Seattle was second in the league during the regular season, while Denver was third). Of the 14 teams to average over seven yards per attempt, only Detroit (7-9) had a losing record. Kansas City was the only playoff team to place in the bottom 10 of the list.

Russell Wilson has not only been passing the ball efficiently, he has been doing it with historic proficiency. Wilson has thrown for at least 7.9 yards per attempt and fired a touchdown pass on 6.4% of his passes in each of his first two years. Since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, no other quarterback has done that in each of his first two seasons in the league. In fact, only two other passers since then have even put up those numbers in back-to-back years at any point in their careers (minimum eight starts in a season): Jim Kelly (1989-91) and Tom Brady (2010-11).

Wilson is the 11th quarterback since the merger to have done this in any two years at all (minimum eight starts, not necessarily back-to-back). The other 10 quarterbacks have combined for 27 Super Bowl appearances and 15 rings. Seven of them have been to multiple Super Bowls. Daunte Culpepper is the only player on the list to have not played in a Super Bowl.

Multiple Seasons with 7.9 Yards/Attempt and TD on 6.4% of Throws
(minimum eight starts in a season)

Quarterback NFL Seasons 7.9/6.4 Seasons Super Bowls Championships
Tom Brady 12 3 5 3
Drew Brees 12 3 1 1
Jim Kelly 11 3 4 0
Russell Wilson 2 2 1 0*
Daunte Culpepper 5 2 0 0
Bob Griese 12 2 2 2
Peyton Manning 15 2 3 1*
Joe Montana 12 2 4 4
Roger Staubach 8 2 4 2
Kurt Warner 8 2 3 1
Steve Young 9 2 1 1

* Wilson or Manning will add a championship in this year’s Super Bowl

A lot of the attention heading into Super Bowl XLVIII is focused on Denver Broncos’ quarterback, Peyton Manning, and deservedly so. Manning and the Broncos’ offense broke numerous NFL records in 2013, including single-season passing yards, touchdown passes and points scored. But only two years into a promising career, the “other” quarterback in this year’s Big Game has quietly placed himself among some very elite company.