Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Wilson best QB in division, as PFF says?
By Mike Sando
We're about one week away from publishing an all-NFC West team at midseason.
Pro Football Focus caught my attention Wednesday by listing Seattle's Russell Wilson over San Francisco's Alex Smith as the top NFC West quarterback through Week 8.
They might be a little premature in their analysis or just ahead of the curve. They're certainly bold in making the declaration after Smith completed 18 of 19 passes with three touchdowns on "Monday Night Football" this week.
"Alex Smith looked set to have this position sewn up before his two horrible performances against the Giants and Seahawks made you realize the 49ers’ offense is instead limited by him," Khaled Elsayed wrote for PFF. "Instead, Wilson has performed above expectations and finds himself looking like a top-10 quarterback."
I'd agree that Wilson is trending in the right direction. He's coming off a career-best game at Detroit. His future appears bright.
You might even recall Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. saying before the season he thought Wilson would have an outstanding season.
"I very much believe Russell Wilson will have the best year of any quarterback in the division," Williamson said two months ago.
That could still happen.
I do think Smith has done more for his team to this point in the season, Week 1 to present. His performance Monday night reset the trajectory for his season.
On that basis, I would name Smith to an all-division team through Week 8 while acknowledging we'll need to revisit the subject, perhaps even weekly.
Questions persist about Smith's ability to function well enough when pressure affects his rhythm. Ben Alamar's piece for Insider addressed that aspect Wednesday.
"So Smith is not elite, not in the sense that Brady or Brees or Manning is," Alamar concluded after making what I thought was a compelling analysis, "but he is very productive and helps his team win."
Evidence suggests Wilson is gaining.
The chart shows Total QBR figures for NFC West quarterbacks by sections of the season. Wilson has scored highest over the past four weeks, with Smith close behind.
Only five quarterbacks in the NFL have scored higher than Wilson since Week 5. The list includes Peyton Manning (89.2), Eli Manning (83.9), Aaron Rodgers (83.8), Tom Brady (81.8) and Drew Brees (79.6).
We've had some QBR debates over the past couple of seasons, but all should agree on this: Any metric singling out the two Mannings, Rodgers, Brady and Brees probably is on the right track. We can also agree that it's a great indicator for the Seahawks to have their rookie quarterback ranking right there with those five over a four-week period, just ahead of Matt Ryan (77.1).
That would be impressive for any quarterback, let alone a rookie still finding his way.