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Thursday, January 3, 2013
A much closer look at Russell Wilson, RG III

By Mike Sando


Brock Huard reached out Thursday for a little Seattle Seahawks-Washington Redskins pregame chat.

The ESPN analyst and 710 ESPN Seattle host wanted to know where Seattle's Russell Wilson and Washington's Robert Griffin III ranked in three key categories: third down, red zone and fourth quarters/overtimes.

I told him the first four weeks of the season would knock down Wilson significantly in those areas. The Seahawks were still finding their way offensively at that point. They hadn't turned over the offense to Wilson.

With that in mind, we agreed that a more recent time frame would more accurately portray how these young quarterbacks are playing entering their wild-card playoff game Sunday. We chose Week 8 through the end of the season as a representative time frame.

I knew Wilson ranked among the NFL leaders in a wide range of categories since as early as Week 5. I did not know he led the NFL in Total QBR since Week 8 in all three categories Huard wanted to investigate.

Some of the numbers are difficult to believe: 9.3 yards per attempt on third down; 18 total touchdowns in the red zone; 74 percent completions and 9.6 yards per attempt in fourth quarters and overtimes.

Griffin has impressive numbers in some of the categories as well, but they lag behind the standard Wilson has set over the same time period. In many cases, they lag far behind: 5.7 yards per attempt on third down; eight total touchdowns in the red zone; 56.9 percent completions and 5.9 yards per attempt in fourth quarters and overtimes.

These are the sorts of disparities that should show up Sunday if both quarterbacks continue on their recent courses.

A word of warning for Seahawks fans: The Redskins' defense ranks third in Total QBR allowed (26.1) during fourth quarters and overtimes since Week 8. Seattle's defense ranks 30th, with an 86.1 QBR allowed during those situations.

Wilson was good enough to overcome late-game defensive breakdowns at Chicago, but his strong play on the road against Detroit or Miami could not overcome similar problems. That is a concern for Seattle if this game against Washington is close in the late going.

Both teams rank near the middle of the pack in QBR allowed on third down since Week 8. The Redskins are 16th (52.0) and the Seahawks are 18th (55.7) over that span. The figure is 45.8 for the league overall.

The Seahawks are 18th (69.1) and the Redskins 20th (78.2) in QBR allowed in the red zone over the same period. The figure is 66.8 for the league overall.