Two weeks ago today, we declared Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson to be the PFT offensive rookie of the year, based on the regular season. Plenty of you disagreed.
Two weeks later, no one should.
With his performance on Sunday in Atlanta, the hometown of Fran Tarkenton, this neo-Tark showed that, in a class of great rookie quarterbacks, Wilson is in a class of his own.
We know, we know. Robert Griffin III is the greater overall talent. But Wilson has what Griffin lacks: An indispensable instinct on how to avoid and/or absorb contact in a way that doesn’t cause injury. When Griffin runs, there’s a subtle recklessness that now has his short-term and long-term future murky. When Wilson runs, there’s a Barry Sanders-style awareness on how to take a hit and when to hit the ground.
Wilson’s intangibles extend beyond his own health. When the Seahawks fell behind by 20 points in the first half, I mentioned on Twitter that Wilson becomes Seattle’s greatest asset in that situation, because he will never give up. And while many quarterbacks have that same quality (plenty don’t), the difference is that Wilson doesn’t get flustered or frustrated in the face of adversity. He just keeps doing what he does, unaffected by the circumstances.
That calming presence helped his teammates forget about the deficit and focus on doing what they do. And do it they did. And they did everything in their power to win the game, except maybe leaving too much time on the clock when they finally took the lead.
When the Associated Press finally pulls the sheet off the 2012 awards in 19 days, Wilson likely won’t be named the rookie of the year. Sunday’s game bolsters the argument that the votes shouldn’t be taken right after the regular season ends. Though delaying the process until the completion of the Super Bowl likely would skew the results of multiple awards toward members of the freshly-crowned NFL champion, maybe the voting should be postponed until after the conference title games or, at a minimum, until after the divisional round.
Regardless, if the votes were being cast today, Wilson would be the clear winner. And whoever wins the actual award will know it.
And Wilson will have even more focus and quiet motivation to prove that he’s the best of the bunch.
And next year, he’ll be even better.