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Let's Talk Andrew Luck vs. Russell Wilson (Yet Again)

So, the Andrew Luck vs. Russell Wilson debate was brought up over the weekend.

Scott Cunningham

[Editor's note: This article is a more lighthearted approach to the Luck/Wilson subject. Of course it's ridiculous to use only three games to determine this, but I think the whole debate isn't really worthwhile either. Please don't take it so seriously - this is lighthearted. I've written other, more serious articles about the debate. This isn't one of them.]

It was a nice Sunday afternoon enjoying a big Colts victory in which Andrew Luck was nearly flawless.  And then Chris Harris had to talk.

"Keep keep talking up Andrew Luck," Harris, the Broncos cornerback, said after their game in Seattle yesterday.  "Russell Wilson is better than Luck. No question."  Just like that, the Luck/Wilson debate was reopened in a big way.  Great.  Thanks a lot, Chris Harris.

First of all, doesn't it make sense that Harris said this?  Anyone who knows anything about human nature knows that it makes sense.  Human tendency is to always try to make ourselves look better.  Harris' Broncos defense had just allowed Seattle to march 80-yards downfield with ease for the winning score in overtime (a very impressive drive by Wilson, I must add).  Harris was trying to make his unit (and himself) look better by saying they just let a better quarterback do that.  In the heat of the moment, Harris was just trying to make him and his defense look better.  Simple as that.  It's human tendency.

But this is a discussion we had quite a bit in the offseason.  And it always went something like this: a national media person said that Andrew Luck was the better quarterback.  A Seahawks fan got upset about it and said something along the lines of, "you're using all of these things that can't be measured while the stats support Russell Wilson!"  I disagreed that the stats were clearly in support of Wilson, but either way they staked their entire arguments on stats.

So let's be consistent, here.  Let's just take a look at Andrew Luck versus Russell Wilson statistically through the first three games, and then extend it to a 16-game season (using the stats from the first three weeks to project it):

Comp. Att. Percent Yards YPA TD INT Rate Rush Yards Rush TD Rush YPA
Through 3-games in 2014 so far
Andrew Luck 86 126 68.3 912 7.24 9 3 103.0 54 1 4.5
Russell Wilson 60 87 69.0 651 7.48 6 1 108.9 87 0 4.8
Projected 16-game 2014 Season (using stats from first three games)
Andrew Luck 459 672 68.3 4,864 7.24 48 16 103.0 288 5 4.5
Russell Wilson 320 464 69.0 3,472 7.48 32 5 108.9 464 0 4.8

Sure, Russell Wilson's completion percentage is 0.7 points higher, his yards per attempt is 0.24 points higher, and his passer rating is 5.9 points higher, but none of that says much of anything in determining which one is better.  But just look at the pace both quarterbacks are on right now - Andrew Luck is on pace to throw for 1,392 more yards and 16 more touchdowns than Wilson.  Understand, these are just projected numbers, but they do reflect how the quarterbacks are playing right now, just stretched out over an entire season.  Look at those stats and say Wilson's are better while keeping a straight face.  I dare you.

"But they've played different schedules!" Seahawks fans might protest.  Ok, so let's look at the one common opponent they've played - Chris Harris' Denver Broncos.  Wilson played at home and played extra time in overtime.  Luck played on the road in a regulation-time game.  Luck still threw for 112 more yards, threw for the same amount of touchdowns, and added another touchdown on the ground.  Wilson completed a higher percentage of his passes for a higher yards per attempt.

"See, the reason for Wilson's stats being less is because he doesn't throw as much!" the Seahawks fan's argument might logically conclude.  And they're right.  But doesn't that prove one of the apparently "unquantifiable" evidences Colts fans have long used to support Andrew Luck?  That the Colts rely on Luck more than the Seahawks do on Wilson?  Doesn't it make sense that the player throwing a lot more is often (not always, but often) relied on by his team more?  Luck has already thrown 39 more passes than Wilson has this year - that's more than an entire game's worth (Wilson has never thrown 39 times in a single game in the NFL).

And then there's the humorous argument about the two teams.  If you tell a Seahawks fan, "Seattle's defense is the best in the league!" (which it is), they'll wholeheartedly agree with you.  "Then wouldn't you conclude that the Seahawks are a better team than the Colts?" you would ask.  "LOL yes!" the Seahawks fan would respond.  "So then why do you say it's not a valid argument to support Andrew Luck having to do more than Wilson?"  They'll try to come up with some explanation, but it won't be a good one.  Because there isn't one.  The Seahawks are a much better team than the Colts are.

Look, I think Russell Wilson is playing great football right now.  He's a great quarterback.  And to the shock of Seahawks fans, I'll actually say that if we're taking the season as a whole so far, Wilson has "looked" better than Luck has.  The first two weeks, Luck was good but not great, missing some passes he should have made.  But I think even that adds to our argument - that Andrew Luck has definitely not been playing his best and he's still put up the numbers he has and done the things he has done.  That the Colts are not a great team but that Luck has done this.  Doesn't that just add to it?  If Luck is statistically (because remember, Seahawks fans want to use the stats) this much better while not playing his best, isn't he better?

I never intended to get into this argument.  I think it's a waste of time.  But I've heard it talked about too much in the past day or so to let it go unnoticed.  Both Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck are good quarterbacks, but Andrew Luck is the better quarterback.