By Steve Silverman-
(CBS) This is the season of rookie quarterbacks in the NFL.
Most of the headlines have belonged to No. 2 draft pick Robert Griffin III of the Washington Redskins and No. 1 choice Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts. Both have been stellar and lived up to the hype, although RGIII deserves a bit of an edge.
Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks, who was selected with the 75th pick in the third round, continues to defy the original scouting reports. He has had a spectacular rookie season and has put the Seahawks in a position to gain a playoff spot this year.
It won’t be easy for them this week against the Bears and they also host San Francisco in Week 16. But Seattle’s other three games they have down the stretch are against the hapless Cardinals and Bills and the semi-hapless Cardinals.
But don’t just circle this game against the Seahawks as another routine home win for the Bears, like last week’s game against the Vikings was. Seattle has a big advantage at quarterback over Minnesota. Wilson is a legitimate game-changer while Christian Ponder can barely throw a screen pass.
Wilson upset all the projections when he won the starting quarterback position in training camp away from free-agent signee Matt Flynn. It’s been an even bigger upset that he has maintained that position all season long.
Wilson, who is supposed to be too small to play quarterback in the NFL at 5-11 and 204 pounds, has had a quarterback rating of 95.0 or better in seven of the 11 Seahawks games. He has been over 112.0 in five of those games.
Luck, the most ballyhooed quarterback prospect since Peyton Manning, has exceeded the 100.0 rating mark in just two games this season. His best showing came in Week 2 against the Vikings when he posted a 107.5 mark as he threw for 224 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
RGIII has been spectacular. He has exceeded the 100.0 mark five times, just like Wilson. However, his best game delivered a rating of 158.3 as he eviscerated the stumbling Philadelphia Eagles in Week 11. RGIII completed 14-of-15 passes for 200 yards with four TDs and no interceptions.
RGIII has the two highest ratings of any rookie quarterback this season. However, Wilson has five of the 10 best ratings of all rookie performances this season. RGIII has three of the top 10 showings, while Brandon Weeden of Cleveland and Ryan Tannehill of Miami have the other two. Luck’s best showing rank is 12th and 13th.
Wilson’s best games have been at home, but he performed well on the road Sunday in Miami as he completed 21-of-27 passes for 224 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
His ability to buy time with his quick feet and instincts has allowed him to overcome his size disadvantage. The Bears may look at the Seahawks as just another opponent they can crush at Soldier Field. However, Wilson is too good to underestimate. He can keep plays alive with his quickness and he has a strong enough arm to get the ball to his best receivers.
The Bears have upcoming games against Minnesota and Green Bay the following two weeks. This week’s game against the Seahawks has “trap” written all over it and Wilson gives his team the ammunition to make the upset a reasonable possibility.
Steve Silverman is an award-winning writer, covering sports since 1980. Silverman was with Pro Football Weekly for 10 years and his byline has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Playboy, NFL.com and The Sporting News. He is the author of four books, including Who’s Better, Who’s Best in Football — The Top 60 Players of All-Time. Follow him on Twitter (@profootballboy) and read more of his CBS Chicago columns here.