Seahawks’ Russell Wilson on track for best QB season ever — that’s no opinion, it’s in the numbers

Oct 8, 2020, 4:08 PM
Seahawks QB Russell Wilson...
Seahawks QB Russell Wilson is off to the best start of any QB in NFL history. (Getty)

The Seahawks’ start of the 2020 season has been historic, as it’s just the second time in franchise history that the team has gone 4-0, and there’s a chance Seattle sets a franchise record with a 5-0 start after Sunday’s game with the Vikings. But the play of the Seahawks’ star player has been even more impressive than the team’s undefeated play so far.

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Let Russ Cook” was one of the many slogans hopping around Seahawks Twitter this offseason, with fans of the team as well as analysts, statisticians and 710 ESPN Seattle’s own Jake Heaps wanting quarterback Russell Wilson to be the focal point of Seattle’s offense.

That’s not to say Wilson hasn’t been a key part of the Seahawks’ offense since entering the league in 2012, but head coach Pete Carroll loves to have a physical running attack on offense with as close to a 50-50 share between running and passing the football as possible. That has gone out the window in 2020. Wilson is throwing 34.25 passes per game, the second-highest mark of his nine-year career, and his 321.3 passing yards per game are easily his highest. He was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week twice, and was NFC Offensive Player of the Month for September.

So far, Wilson has completed 103 of 137 passes (75.2%) for 1,285 yards, 16 touchdowns and two interceptions. Additionally, the signal caller has a QB rating of 82.8 (out of 100) and a passer rating of 136.7 (max is 158.3). Aside from passing yards and QB rating, Wilson is tops in the league in the aforementioned statistics. He’s also thrown just two interceptions, one of which was clearly not his fault.

That’s far and away the best start of his career because, well, it’s the best any quarterback has started in his team’s first four games. What Wilson is on track for, simply put, is the single best quarterback season in the history of the NFL. Need proof? Let’s dive into the numbers. (Note: All statistics are from Pro Football Reference unless otherwise stated.)

On track for new NFL records

Let’s start with everyone’s favorite: Getting the ball in the end zone.

Wilson has 16 touchdown passes, which is tied with Peyton Manning in 2013 for the most TDs thrown through the first four games of the season. That year, Manning set the NFL record with 55 passing touchdowns with a historic Broncos offense that would ultimately fall to the Seahawks 43-8 in the Super Bowl.

If Wilson keeps up this absurd pace, he’d end the year with 64 passing scores – far and away the best ever in a single year. It would also destroy Wilson’s personal best of 35 passing touchdowns in 2018, which is a Seahawks record.

But Wilson isn’t just throwing touchdowns at an insane clip, he’s also finding his receivers nearly every time he drops back to pass.

Currently, Wilson is completing 75.2% of his passes. The NFL record? 74.4%, set by Drew Brees in 2018. So yeah, Wilson is not only throwing the most touchdowns, he’s also completing more passes than anyone.

Another metric for quarterback success is passer rating. When it comes to that stat, Wilson tops the NFL in 2020 at 136.7. This would blow away the record Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers set in 2011, when he had a 122.5 rating.

Not quite on track for a record, but very close

Wilson is on track to break the NFL (and by default, the Seahawks) records for passing touchdowns, completion percentage and passer rating, but his current trajectory puts him close to the top of the record books in some other very notable single-season statistics as well.

Many prefer QB rating (0-100) over passer rating when it comes to rating quarterbacks. The record for that was set by Tom Brady in 2007, when he won league MVP and led the Patriots to a 16-0 season in a then-record setting passing offense. His QB rating was 88.5.

This year, Wilson is at 82.8 per ESPN’s total QBR, which is fourth in the NFL. It’s not out of the question for Wilson to get that number up going forward. Additionally, that QBR would be the best of Wilson’s career and the best in Seahawks history.

As for some other more advanced statistics, it’s evident that Wilson is finding the end zone at a ridiculous clip. Well, he’s thrown touchdowns on 11.7% of his passes. That both would and wouldn’t be an NFL record if Wilson finished the year at that mark.

Currently, the top five record holders for touchdown percentage all played in the 1940s and 1950s, before the Super Bowl. Sid Luckman set the record in 1943 at 13.9%. The second best is Frankie Albert in 1948 at 11%. Wilson’s 11.7% would put him firmly in second between the two.

As far as the Super Bowl era, Manning threw touchdowns on 9.9% of his passes in 2004, which is tied for sixth overall. Wilson’s would easily be the best of the modern era.

And Wilson has thrown two interceptions in four games, good for a 1.5% interception percentage. Wilson’s best was last season, when he was at just 1% with five total picks. The NFL record was set just two years ago by Rodgers, who threw just two picks all year long and his interception percentage was just 0.3%. It’s unlikely Wilson reaches that mark, but there’s a chance. At the very least, he has a real shot of breaking his personal best mark in that category from a year ago.

Wrap it up

Wilson firmly belongs in the MVP conversation simply because, well, he is the conversation. No quarterback is doing what he’s doing this year because no quarterback has ever done what he’s doing.

Wilson is doing all of this with one of the worst defenses in the league, which is allowing the most total yards and passing yards in the NFL by a wide margin.

Yes, he has some weapons, but his top two receivers have never been Pro Bowlers (Tyler Lockett was a Pro Bowler as a rookie as a returner, not receiver). One of his tight ends, Greg Olsen, last went in 2016. His left tackle, Duane Brown, has been a regular Pro Bowler and Pro Bowl alternate, but the rest of the line? Not so much. Left guard Mike Iupati went from 2012 to 2015, but he’s been banged up and hasn’t been back since.

Put any other quarterback on the Seahawks, including defending MVP Lamar Jackson, 2018 MVP Patrick Mahomes, or veterans like Aaron Rodgers. Are the Seahawks 4-0? Doubtful.

Wilson is having, so far, the best quarterback season in NFL history, and it’s not even close. That’s not an opinion. It’s in the numbers.

Follow Brando Gustafson on Twitter.

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Seahawks’ Russell Wilson on track for best QB season ever — that’s no opinion, it’s in the numbers