Two of the rookie quarterbacks who took the NFL by storm last season will square off Sunday when Andrew Luck and the Colts host Russell Wilson and the Seahawks in Indianapolis.
They arrived from oppositeendsof the NFL Draft spectrum, and seemingly come at their position with skills that are just as contrasting.
But Sunday, at Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis, the Colts’ Andrew Luck and the Seahawks’ Russell Wilson will lead their teams into a game that will showcase two of the most-promising quarterbacks who entered the league last year.
Luck, the first pick overall last April, is that strapping pocket passer who was the perfect replacement for Peyton Manning in Indianapolis. The 6-foot-4, 239-pound Luck passed for an NFL rookie-record 4,374 yards last season and was at it again in last week’s 37-3 romp over the Jaguars in Jacksonville – when Luck was 22 of 36 for 260 yards and threw a pair of touchdown passes.
Wilson, the 75th pick in last year’s draft, has a knack for becoming the proverbial greased pig when the pigskin is tucked under his arm. Last season, the 5-11, 206-pound Wilson ran for more yards than any quarterback in Seahawks history (489) and was the perfect pairing with Marshawn Lynch to allow the offense to shove the read-option into high gear while running roughshod over any defense that got in their way during the second half of the season. Last week, Wilson willed the Seahawks to a needed fourth-quarter touchdown in their 23-20 overtime victory against the Texans in Houston by running four times for 53 yards during the 14-play, 98-yard drive.
But don’t be fooled by any of these preconceived notions about Luck and Wilson, even when they are producing results to support the stereotypes.
Luck is a better runner than most realize, while Wilson has a stronger, more-accurate arm than most expected from the QB who slid to the third round of the draft. Wilson did, after all, throw 26 TD passes last season to tie Manning’s rookie record that was set in 1997.
“He’s really a complete football player, because he is such a great athlete,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said of Luck. “He’s big and strong, can throw the ball all over the yard and he’s a really good runner and he’s difficult to sack.”
Colts coach Chuck Pagano made a similar assessment when it came to Wilson the passer.
“He’s got an NFL arm, can make all the NFL throws,” Pagano said. “He has made some throws that are incredible.”
Luck and Wilson are not all that concerned about labels, except for the one that is the most important: Winner. Luck is 14-7, including playoffs; while Wilson is 16-6 – and 12-2 in his past 14 starts.
These facts have not been lost on Pagano and Carroll, which is why each quarterback obviously has captured the respect of the opposing coach.
Pagano on Wilson: “I’ve seen enough to know that this guy is a top-level starter in this league. He’s a proven winner. … Great presence. Great command. Never shaken. Athletic as all get-out. And then his ability to extend plays scares the heck out of you. What he’s done for his team, and what he did for his team last week, again it’s a huge, huge challenge for us defensively to try to contain this guy. He’s a tremendous athlete and a tremendous quarterback.”