After all of the 2012 NFL season awards are handed out, Russell Wilson will have his hands on the Rookie of the Year Award. Quite frankly, he had one of the most memorable rookie seasons in recent memory.
Everyone and their mother knew Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III would be good rookies, but they were great first-year players. Wilson, though, was expected to sit behind Matt Flynn and wait for his opportunity.
He didn’t have the red carpet rolled out for his arrival; if he was going to be Seattle’s starting QB, he would have to do it on Pete Carroll’s watch.
He didn’t have a system tailored for him on Day One (RG3) or a Hall-of-Fame worthy pass catcher to rely on throughout (Luck). Wilson had to earn the Seahawks’ starting job through the team’s parameters.
The rookie’s confidence never wavered. He outperformed Flynn in the preseason with unmatched accuracy, dazzling athleticism and inspiring confidence. Pete Carroll and the Seattle coaching staff had no choice but to start the rookie.
At that point, if he were to start all 16 games it would be deemed a worthy accomplishment.
But Wilson kept raising the bar. Wins over Green Bay, New England, San Francisco, Chicago and more. Leading two straight 50-point offensive explosions in December. A NFC playoff berth and four-win increase for Seattle from 2011.
Keep in mind that the Seattle coaching staff tried to hide Wilson in the offense early in the season. They set up a game plan centered on the running game and bootleg passes, so he didn’t have many opportunities to pad his stats.
It wasn’t until Week 6 against the Vikings that the coaches unleashed Wilson and allowed him more opportunities to throw downfield. That’s when Wilson began to turn Golden Tate, Sidney Rice and Doug Baldwin into touchdown hoarders.
The coaches' cautious management makes Wilson’s season stats even more astounding. He finished with 26 touchdowns, the most among all rookie QBs. He added 489 yards and four touchdowns on the ground, all the while starting all 16 games (unlike RG3).
If playoff success were added into the evaluation, Wilson would gain a significant bump in his candidacy, but the voting ends before the playoffs begin. Regardless, Wilson has had the most memorable season of the three rookie candidates.
Statistics can only take a reputation so far. Russell Wilson’s rise was predicated on hard work and earning his way into the NFL. He’s earned the right to hoist the Rookie of the Year when the league announces a winner.