Fronte got the ball rolling on this argument when he ranked Russell Wilson as the top quarterback he’d choose to build a team around. However, there’s another quarterback from the 2012 draft class that’s pretty damn good- former first overall pick Andrew Luck.
The Wilson vs Luck debate is interesting. Of the two young guns, Wilson has the clear edge in playoff success, as evidenced by his two Super Bowl appearances. He also now has the upper hand in many statistical measures after a big 2015 season. It seems that many others are starting to agree that Wilson is the better quarterback as well: In the latest NFL Top 100 rankings, for example, Wilson (#17) finished way ahead of Luck (#92).
Yet in fairness to Luck, he’s been one of the league’s most productive quarterbacks since entering the league, with the exception of an injury-riddled 2015. His Colts also have a respectable 3-3 record in the playoffs. Plus, there’s no denying that Wilson has played on much better teams in Seattle than Luck has in Indianapolis. So, taking all of this into account, who is the better quarterback?
I love using statistics to back up my arguments, but I won’t here. In this case, stats don’t tell the whole story. Even though many metrics point to Russell Wilson being the superior quarterback, I’d take Andrew Luck over him every day of the week.
I credit Wilson for evolving into one of the game’s elite quarterbacks. However, the reality is that he came into a picture perfect situation in Seattle, where he had an all-time great supporting cast around him. Andrew Luck, in contrast, hasn’t had anywhere near that kind of talent around him. While the Seahawks have had at least a top four defense every year since Wilson became the starter (and a top two defense three times), the best defense Luck has had was a 13th ranked unit. Moreover, Seattle has had a total of 18 Pro Bowl appearances since 2012, excluding Wilson’s selections, while the Colts have only had 9 aside from Luck’s. Even that stat is deceptive, though, because three of those selections for Indy were special team players Pat McAfee, Adam Vinatieri, and some long snapper back in 2014. Essentially, Wilson has played with 3x as many Pro Bowlers than Luck.
Even with an average supporting cast around him, Luck has thrived in Indianapolis with the exception of last season, which we can toss aside because he missed half the year with a lacerated kidney and was clearly hampered even when he was playing. Of Luck’s many accomplishments, he took the Colts to the playoffs in his rookie year despite the fact that Indianapolis had the league’s second worst defense. He also had a prolific 2014 season in which he threw for 40 touchdowns and over 4,700 yards, figures that Wilson hasn’t come that close to matching.
Luck also has an edge in terms of physical attributes. He’s bigger, he has a stronger arm, and he is just as mobile as Wilson. In my view, if Luck and Wilson had traded places before the 2012 season, the Seahawks would have been even more successful over these past four years with the more dynamic and more prolific Luck at quarterback. Plus, the Legion of Boom certainly would have had to bail Luck out far less than they have with Wilson. For instance, do people remember Wilson’s four interceptions in the 2014 NFC Championship game? Sure, Luck hasn’t always been great in the playoffs either; but when Luck doesn’t produce, his Colts lose. When Wilson has had subpar games, the Seahawks usually have still found ways to win. After all, their all-time great defense is the primary reason for their success.
Most people’s opinions of both Luck and Wilson have been clouded by the respective teams they play for. Luck has done more with less, has put up great numbers when healthy, and has superior physical attributes. He’d have at least a couple of Super Bowl appearances too if he had as many great players around him.
Luck & Wilson photo courtesy of sportningnews.com; Luck photo courtesy of chatsports.com