Sizing up Wilson, Tannehill before matchup

November, 21, 2012
11/21/12
6:00
PM ET
The Seattle Seahawks might have selected quarterback Ryan Tannehill in the first round of the 2012 NFL draft had the Miami Dolphins not beat them to it.

They wound up waiting til the third round before taking a quarterback. Seven months later, all parties seem to have come out OK.

Tannehill and Seattle's Russell Wilson are both starting despite preseason expectations they would serve as backups first. It would have seemed unfathomable when free agency began to think Matt Flynn would be backing up Wilson heading into a Week 12 matchup featuring the Tannehill-led Dolphins. That is indeed the case even though Flynn visited both teams in free agency after playing for Philbin and Seahawks general manager John Schneider in Green Bay.

"We certainly like our quarterback," Philbin told reporters Wednesday. "I think Seattle’s quarterback is playing very well."

Both have made positive impressions overall, particularly in light of rookie expectations. Wilson is outperforming Tannehill by leading statistical measures as the Seahawks and Dolphins prepare to face one another for the first time since 2008.

The first chart shows season-to-date stats for Wilson and Tannehill.

Wilson has nine additional touchdown passes, three fewer interceptions and the higher NFL passer rating by nearly 20 points. The gap appears much larger when taking into account the recent trajectories for each player.

Wilson ranked 27th in passer rating and 32nd in Total QBR through the first four weeks of the season. He has ranked seventh in passer rating (101.6) and sixth in QBR (75.2) since Week 5.

Rough statistical performances in Week 1 dragged down both quarterbacks' early numbers.

Tannehill threw three picks with no touchdown passes during a 30-10 defeat at Houston. He finished that game with a 3.1 QBR score (100 maximum, 50 average). Meanwhile, Wilson was completing only 18 of 34 passes for 153 yards with one touchdown, one pick and three sacks during a Week 1 defeat at Arizona.

While Wilson ranks 18th in QBR through Week 11 at 56.1, he ranks 13th since Week 2 (62.9), 10th since Week 4 (67.4) and second since Week 8 (83.9).

Tannehill ranks 27th since Week 8 at 33.4. The Dolphins have lost three in a row, falling to 4-6. Seattle has won its last two, improving to 6-4.

"Our offense as a whole the last two weeks has not been performing very well," Philbin said. "We need to get that better and corrected and fixed."

Tannehill was most impressive, I thought, during an overtime defeat against Arizona in Week 4. He completed 26 of 41 passes for 431 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions that day. His 82.7 QBR score remains the highest to date for Tannehill. It also stands as the second-highest for any quarterback against the Cardinals this season.

Arizona ranks sixth in QBR allowed (43.3). Alex Smith (92.0), Tannehill and Aaron Rodgers (81.7) are the only quarterbacks to score higher than 38.6 against Arizona this season. Matt Ryan (31.2), Tom Brady (30.6) and Michael Vick (8.8) struggled against the Cardinals.

Wilson, though playing very well overall lately, had some struggles during a 28-7 victory over the New York Jets last week. He finished the game with efficient passing stats and a 130.1 passer rating to prove it. Wilson's QBR score lagged at 45.8 in part because he fumbled twice in Seahawks territory. The Jets returned one of those fumbles for a touchdown to tie the game. Running back Robert Turbin recovered when Wilson fumbled at his own 6-yard line two drives later, sparing Wilson from another costly turnover.

The Seahawks' next two games -- at Miami, at Chicago -- will give Wilson a chance to build on recent improvements while playing on the road. Wilson played well during a victory at Carolina and while giving Seattle a late lead at Detroit in a game the Seahawks' defense couldn't close out.

Related: James Walker's initial thoughts on the Wilson-Tannehill matchup.

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