Russell Wilson is still underrated, and that’s good news
Russell Wilson has been underestimated.
This time, it’s Charley Casserly, a former NFL general manager who now works for the NFL Network. He stated this week that Wilson is not among the 10-top quarterbacks in the league. What’s more, he would take Philadelphia’s Nick Foles ahead of Wilson.
If you listen close you might be able to hear Brock Huard’s blood pressure rising, though chances are his pounding pulse is drowned out by all the scoffing being done around Seattle about Casserly’s lack of respect and appreciation for the third-youngest quarterback to start for a Super Bowl winner.
Here’s the thing, though: I can’t think of a single reason other than pride that anyone in town should care about whether Wilson is being underestimated. In fact, it can only be a good thing for a number of reasons that range from mundane to meaningful.
It’s possible that it provides a hint of motivation. Wilson doesn’t seem like someone who seeks out the doubts to use them as fuel. He’s not like cornerback Richard Sherman, who actively looks for criticism so he can grind that chip on his shoulder into even a greater edge, but Wilson did admit that back in high school and early in college he would look for mentions of his height as an obstacle.
The more people who think of him as a short Brad Johnson, the better.
More significantly, though, the fact that someone like Casserly sees Wilson as little more than an average starting quarterback in the NFL reflects the reality that there might not be a consensus on Wilson’s skill and value. That’s significant considering Seattle is a year away from negotiating a contract extension with Wilson, who’s seemingly in position to name his number.
But more importantly, it shows that even after Wilson threw for more touchdown passes his first two seasons than all but two other players in NFL history, there are people in the league – people with scouting experience – who see Wilson as an outlier, an exception. The more people who think that way, the fewer teams will be out searching for someone like Wilson.
What Casserly’s observation doesn’t produce is outrage. Not unless you’re interested in a cut-and-paste recitation of all the reasons his rankings are misguided, and if that’s what you want, well, pack a lunch because you’re going to be busy.
This is the time of year when people publish lists and establish a pecking order for quarterbacks, a true offseason in which the absence of practice means everyone takes turns debating the ranks of the elite at that position as if it truly means something.
It doesn’t. Not in any meaningful way. The Seahawks aren’t going to doubt Wilson’s status because of something Casserly said. It’s not going to change the direction of their team.
All it provides is validation, and after winning a Super Bowl, Seattle and its fans shouldn’t need the analytical equivalent of a pat on the head by hearing a former GM heap compliments upon the Seahawks’ quarterbacks.
The only validation required can be polished and displayed in a trophy case, 7 pounds of proof the Seahawks won in New Jersey last February.
Maybe Casserly can name 10 quarterbacks he would draft before Wilson, but only one of those ever won a Super Bowl at a younger age than Wilson did.