BY Steve Rudman 06:30AM 12/15/2015

Wilson playing QB as well as it can be played

Since 1960, the beginning of the modern NFL, no quarterback produced a more efficient four-game run in combined passer rating than Seattle’s Russell Wilson.

Russell Wilson has thrown 16 TDs with no picks in his past four games. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

There is not a chance QB Russell Wilson will receive consideration for the NFL’s MVP award, not with the Seahawks saddled with five losses. QB Cam Newton is a lock for leading the Carolina Panthers to a 13-0 start and putting up numbers as gaudy as Wilson’s. Arizona QB Carson Palmer would also be ahead of Wilson, even though Wilson has forced his way into the conversation with a four-week spree of utter virtuosity.

Worthy as they are, neither Newton nor Palmer have produced a run this season comparable to Wilson’s past four games, in which he has tossed 16 touchdown passes, including five Sunday in Baltimore, without being intercepted and without three primary weapons, RB Marshawn Lynch, TE Jimmy Graham and, now, RB Thomas Rawls.

Since 1960, five other quarterbacks, including Peyton Manning (2004 and 2013) and Tom Brady (2007 and 2014), have thrown as many as 16 TDs over a span of four games. Dan Marino (1984), Drew Brees (2011-12) and Aaron Rodgers (2012) also accomplished the feat, but littered their hot streaks with interceptions. Only Wilson, Manning and Brady did it without a pick.

In one sense, Brady produced the king of hot streaks. In 2007, en route to 50 touchdowns vs. eight interceptions, the New England quarterback had a four-game stretch against Cleveland, Dallas, Miami and Washington in which he threw 17 TDs and no picks. He also had another four-game rampage that year of 12 TDs and no interceptions.

Manning came close to Brady in the first four games of his Denver career in 2013 when he opened with seven TDs and no picks against Baltimore and finished his run with 16 TDs and no picks. Wilson has now matched that and might have matched Brady’ 17/0 if TE Luke Willson hadn’t dropped an easy ball in the end zone Sunday.

In the process, Wilson has staked a claim as the most efficient passer over any four-game span in modern NFL history.

Wilson’s combined passer rating over Seattle’s last four is 145.9, and he leads the NFL with a season rating of 110.0. We looked at all quarterbacks dating to 1960 in order to determine how many had a rating of at least 120 in each of four consecutive games, including overlapped seasons. Only six with a minimum of 100 pass attempts made the list (Brady had a combined 136.2 rating during his 17-TD, 0-INT streak, but did not have a 120 or higher mark in every game):

Year Dates Quarterback Team Opponents Rating
2015 Nov. 22-Dec. 13 Russell Wilson Sea SF, Pitt, Min, Bal 145.9
1973 Sept. 16-Oct. 7 John Hadl Ram KC, Atl, SF, Hou 145.7
1965 Oct. 10-31 Johnny Unitas Bal Det, Wash, Ram, SF 135.4
2009 Nov. 8-Dec. 6 Kurt Warner AZ Chi, Sea, StL, Min 133.2
1994-95 Dec. 11-Sept. 3 Steve Young SF SD, Den, Min, NO 130.3
2014 Sept. 14-Oct. 12 Philip Rivers SD Sea, Buf, Jax, NYJ 126.8

So Wilson has performed at an efficiency level unmatched over any four-game spread. Most astonishing are Wilson’s numbers from the pocket: 81-for-96 (84.3 percent) for 1,094 yards with 15 touchdowns and zero interceptions. That’s a rating of 153.7 on a scale where 158.3 is perfect, which means Wilson is playing quarterback about as well as the position can be played.

For more than three seasons, the conventional wisdom has been that the way to minimize Wilson’s impact on a game is to keep him in the pocket. But he’s completely blown that notion out of opponents’ playbooks in a stunning, historic way.

Wilson would not have had an opportunity for such rarefied deeds had not Seattle’s offensive line, largely pathetic for the season’s first two months, come together over the last one. Credit that development to Tom Cable, who should be the first assistant named NFL Coach of the Year. Won’t happen, but it ought to.

Scoring spree

Starting with a 39-32 loss to Arizona Nov. 15, the Seahawks have scored 29 or more points in five consecutive games. After losing to the Cardinals, Seattle defeated San Francisco 29-13, Pittsburgh 39-30, Minnesota 38-7 and Baltimore 35-6 — the longest streak of 29+-point games in franchise history.

In 1986, the Seahawks had four consecutive such games, beating Denver 41-16, San Diego 34-24, the L.A. Raiders 37-0 and Dallas 31-14.

Elites vs. non-elites

After obliterating four consecutive opponents, the Seahawks are receiving the platitude  that pundits trot out annually to one, if not several, hot teams in the late going: No one wants to face Seattle in the postseason.

Maybe so, but the Seahawks have defeated an elite quarterback only once all season, and in that game Ben Roethlisberger shredded Seattle for 456 passing yards, an opponent record. Seattle escaped with a 39-30 win.

The Seahawks have beaten Jimmy Clausen twice and knocked around the likes of Blaine Gabbert and Colin Kaepernick. But they allowed nearly 300 passing yards per game  — and lost to — three NFC quarterbacks they could see in the postseason, Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton and Carson Palmer.

Seattle is 7-1 this season in games against non-elite quarterbacks and 1-4 against elite ones, as the charts show:

vs. Non-Elites

Date Opponent Quarterback Att. Cmp. Yds. TDs Result
Sept. 13 at St. Louis Nick Foles 27 18 297 1 L 34-31
Sept. 27 Chicago Jimmy Clausen 17 9 63 0 W 26-0
Oct. 5 Detroit Matt Stafford 35 24 203 0 W 13-10
Oct. 22 at San Fran C. Kaepernick 24 13 124 0 W 20-3
Nov. 1 at Dallas Matt Cassel 25 13 97 0 W 13-12
Nov. 22 San Fran Blaine Gabbert 34 22 264 1 W 29-13
Dec. 6 at Minn T. Bridgewater 28 17 118 0 W 38-7
Dec. 13 at Balt Jimmy Clausen 40 23 274 0 W 35-6

 vs. Elites

Date Opponent Quarterback Att. Cmp. Yds. TDs Result
Sept. 20 at Green Bay Aaron Rodgers 33 25 249 2 L 27-17
Oct. 11 at Cincy Andy Dalton 44 30 331 2 L 27-24
Oct. 18 Carolina Cam Newton 36 20 269 1 L 27-23
Nov. 15 Arizona Carson Palmer 47 29 363 3 L 39-32
Nov. 29 Pittsburgh B. Roethlisberger 55 36 456 1 W 39-30

If the season ended today, the fifth-seeded Seahawks would travel to Washington (6-7) to face the fourth-seeded Redskins and QB Kirk Cousins in a wild card game. The 4-5 game winner draws the No. 1 seed, which is undefeated Carolina, in the conference semifinal at Charlotte.


  • Cory

    Wouldn’t Carolina draw the lowest seed remaining after the Wild Card round? So for example if the vikings as the persumed #6 team upset the Packers in the Wild Card round would then play the Panthers in the divisional round and the winner of 4-5 wildcard round (Seahawks – NFC East Champ) play Arizona?

    • Pixdawg13

      I rather suspect Steve was giving the #6 team no chance to win at Lambeau.

  • Just Another Bullwhip

    “Worthy as [Cam Newton and Carson Palmer] are, neither Newton nor Palmer have produced a run this season comparable to Wilson’s past four games,”

    Four games? Four Games? LOL. It truly does not get more pure Hooterville than arguing MVP based upon that.

  • Just Another Bullwhip

    And I don’t mean to denigrate your analysis. Per usual, it is backed with more substance than most. And, remember, as much as I ride you guys, I still think Rudman and Thiel was probably the best sports radio show Seattle has seen. That, said, however, and once again, four games makes 1/4 of a season. Not even remotely MVP of a season. And, in a complete aside, when I have dogged the Sounders for the faux-European stuff, I am taking about the atmosphere, not the style of play.

  • jafabian

    If Manning didn’t have a record season two years ago Wilson would have been strongly considered for MVP. Right now his focus seems to be right where he was at that time whereas at the beginning of the season it didn’t seem to be. If the O-Line can remain relatively intact as well as the rest of the offensive personnel he’ll make a strong case to be the Seahawks 2nd league MVP.

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  • richmond morris

    Lmao …can newton is not elite wow

  • Boogie Ondown

    Elites get the ball over the middle to their TE or WR or RB…Wilson does this when he has time.

    The reason Seattle gets beat by elite QBs is that Wagner and Kam aren’t stopping those plays up the middle. Everyone knows to attack the middle on Seattle on 3rd down. Might as well blitz up the middle every 3rd and long if you can’t cover them and force them to throw the ball quicker–maybe to the outside to use the out of bounds to help as an extra defender.

  • 3 Lions

    Steve, if the Hawks get in as the 5th seed how do we know on what day they will play in the first two rounds? I need to plan my schedule!