Is Russell Wilson an elite quarterback?
This question is being debated quite a bit since Russell Wilson dazzled recently in prime time against the Redskins. Frankly, Wilson is capable of making some incredible plays, and he’s definitely one of the best improvisers in football.
I was never high on Wilson and he’s made me and other critics eat my words. That said, he’s in the perfect situation with a great defense and a dominant running game. Like Big Ben before him, his situation has allowed him to grow into his role.
But now the hype is in full force as to where he ranks among the best quarterbacks, and this week against the Cowboys we saw many of Wilson’s limitations. If you keep him in the pocket and force him to beat you with just his arm, then Wilson can struggle particularly when his team is playing from behind.
Also, even if you go back to a game where he seemingly played well, his reliance on running from the pocket makes him pass up some big passing plays as pointed out by Pete Prisco.
Much of his success can be traced back to the scheme, giving him easy running lanes and open receivers. Then he excels by making plays when he leaves the pocket, and his vision downfield is very impressive when he’s moving.
Yet in the pocket he’s very inconsistent, so when comparing him to someone like Andrew Luck it’s not even close at this point in my opinion. Luck can do so much more and he can do everything Wilson does well.
So while Wilson is definitely a very good quarterback, let’s not put him in the elite category just yet.
RG3 and his speed
Jason Whitlock has an interesting take on Robert Griffin III and the impressive 40-time he displayed at the combine.
In my opinion, Griffin’s speed doesn’t enhance his draft stock. It damages it.
I am not a Robert Griffin hater. I love RG3. In all likelihood, he will be my favorite NFL player next season. He could quickly become my favorite active athlete, ahead of Tiger Woods, Ray Lewis and Jeff George (has yet to file his retirement paperwork).
But I’m worried about Griffin. He’s blessed with too many tools. Oftentimes, the greatest athletes are physically limited, which strengthens their focus. Bill Russell could never match Wilt Chamberlain’s size and limitless athleticism. Larry Bird and Magic Johnson weren’t the greatest leapers or the quickest on their feet.
Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are relatively immobile. They play from the pocket because they have no choice. They mastered the art of playing from the pocket because they had no other choice.
NFL games are won most consistently by quarterbacks who play from the pocket. If a quarterback leaves the pocket, he’s going to get hit. If a quarterback gets hit regularly, he’s going to get hurt. If a franchise quarterback gets injured, his team has little chance of winning the Super Bowl.
NFL teams are looking for the next Manning or Brady. Or the next Eli Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger. A little mobility is good, especially if the quarterback moves in the pocket in an effort to throw downfield. Rodgers and Big Ben are terrific at moving to throw. Is that how Griffin will use his athleticism?
Or does Griffin have so much speed that he’ll channel Michael Vick?
Whitlock goes on to recount Vick’s early problems as he relied too much on his speed and athleticism. Athletes like Steve Young had to learn how to stay in the pocket.
Whitlock basically sums up the primary reason why Andrew Luck is rated higher than RG3, even as some think RG3 has more upside. It’s a risk/reward analysis. Luck has shown that he can win strictly as a pocket passer, using his athleticism only when needed.
Can RG3 learn to play that way? Of course he can. But just because he has the aptitude and temperament to learn doesn’t guarantee success. Luck isn’t guaranteed success either, but we’ve seen him operate consistently from the pocket, so there’s less risk.
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Trouble in Pittsburgh?
As a Browns fan, it’s annoying to watch the rock-solid organization in Pittsburgh that produces consistent winners for the Steelers. The Rooney family knows how to run a football team. They find great coaches and stick with them. Continuity is one of their greatest advantages over teams like the Browns who change regimes every couple of years.
With that backdrop, it’s a little surprising to see Art Rooney II interject himself so directly into team affairs with the decision to not bring back offensive coordinator Bruce Arians. Ben Roethlisberger isn’t happy.
“When I get back, I’m going to go up to Mr. Rooney’s office and ask him what he wants from me, what he wants from this offense, because I think that’s a viable question for him,” Roethlisberger said. “He’s our owner and our boss, so I really would like to know kind of what he wants and where he sees our offense going because I’d like to tell him where I see us going.”
Roethlisberger said he thinks Arians was building one of the NFL’s best offenses, and he’s surprised that Arians won’t get to continue doing that.
“We feel like we are really close to being an elite offense,” Roethlisberger said. “For your leader to be gone is kind of a shocker, but you’ve got to be ready for whatever the Rooneys and coach [Mike] Tomlin decide it our next step.”
The Steelers have had some problems, mostly with keeping Big Ben healthy. There’s a feeling in the organization that they need to get back to running the football. But this team had a lot of success with Arians, who basically unleashed Roethlisberger and let him become an elite quarterback with his improvisation skills.
We’ll see how this plays out. The Steelers will have quite a bit of turnover, particularly on defense, as the team is getting older. Now we’ll be seeing some changes on offense as well.
Where will Peyton Manning go next?
It now seems obvious that the Colts will be parting ways with Peyton Manning. Anything can happen at this point, but Peyton’s recent interview made it pretty clear that he wasn’t a part of the new direction in Indianapolis. You can’t blame them, as they will have Andrew Luck and they would need to pay Peyton a king’s ransom to stick around. The team needs to be rebuilt, and keeping Peyton just delays the process.
The NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora makes a pretty good case that Arizona and Seattle are the two most likely spots.
Oakland Raiders acquire Carson Palmer
Mike Florio is reporting that Carson Palmer has been traded by the Cincinnati Bengals to the Oakland Raiders. Jay Glazer broke the story and the compensation appears to be a first-round pick in 2012 and a conditional pick in 2013 which is a second-rounder that could become a first-rounder.
This deal can be a huge win for both teams. The Bengals get two high draft picks for a player who basically told them to go to hell. The Raiders all of a sudden have a front-line quarterback to pair with their powerful running game. They are mortgaging the future, but they must see real potential to get to the playoffs and compete this season. Ironically, this is a the type of deal All Davis would have made.
Palmer has been an excellent quarterback for years, but his skills seem to have slipped a bit. That said, he has a big arm, and he can rejuvenate his career on a team with a running game.
As for the Bengals, everyone left them for dead at the beginning of the season because they had a rookie quarterback, but the Bengals have a solid defense and Dalton looks pretty good so far. Now they have more picks to build for the future.
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