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In the middle of February, Around the NFL Editor Gregg Rosenthal ranked all 62 starting quarterbacks from the 2021 season. Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson just made his ninth trip to the Pro Bowl, but Rosenthal did not include Wilson in his top 10 NFL signal callers.
Wilson just missed the cut, landing at No. 11 on the list.
“That’s two straight up-and-down seasons for a player who had previously been a model of consistency,” Rosenthal wrote. “After last season’s second-half swoon, Wilson was unspectacularly efficient early this season, missed three starts, suffered through the worst month of his career and then finished strong.
“The missed games and slump knocked him down three spots or so, but he played like a top-10 quarterback to begin and end the season.”
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Russell Wilson Missed Games for the First Time in 2021 Season
As Rosenthal wrote, Wilson had a strong start to the 2021 season, throwing nine touchdowns and no interceptions in the first four games. During that first quarter of the season, Wilson also posted a 72.5% completion percentage and 9.6 yards per pass.
Then when he came back, Wilson took a few weeks to re-find his game. In the first two contests after his return, Wilson completed 51.5% of his passes for 5.9 yards per attempt. He also had no touchdowns and two interceptions.
The “slump” wasn’t all that shocking considering Wilson returned in four weeks from an injury that was supposed to sideline him for a month and a half.
“This is a remarkable story of recovery, and really of a guy setting the intent that he was going to do this and pull off, and he’s way, way ahead of schedule,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll told Seahawks.com. “We just came off the practice field, and he threw the ball all over the place. He did really well for the first time out in a limited amount of plays.
“Everything about it — we knew that Russ was going to go for it; we didn’t know if his body could respond, but it did. His team that worked with him and helped him throughout did a remarkable job. So we’ll just go one day at a time and see how it goes. I know he’s thrilled to be back, everybody’s excited to see him back out here. It’s an amazing accomplishment to be back. Just throwing like he just did on the practice field is a great achievement.”
Six weeks after the injury, which was the original prognosis for Wilson’s finger, the Seahawks quarterback started playing much better. He posted a 64.6% completion percentage, 7.4 yards per pass, 15 touchdowns and three interceptions in the final seven games.
Russell Wilson Replaced Tom Brady at Pro Bowl
Wilson didn’t originally make the Pro Bowl, but when Tom Brady opted out of the game, the Seahawks quarterback became an alternate on the NFC roster. Wilson has made the Pro Bowl in nine of his 10 seasons, including each of the last five.
There are a lot of great quarterbacks in the NFL today even with Brady, who was ranked first on Rosenthal’s list, retiring, so it’s not too insulting for Wilson to be outside the top 10. But it seems unjustified when Wilson’s inconsistencies in 2021 were so connected to his finger injury.
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray was arguably the NFL’s MVP through seven weeks before he suffered an ankle injury, missed three games and struggled upon his return. Rosenthal ranked Murray No. 8.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott also battled through inconsistent play. He suffered a calf injury in Week 6 and finished No. 9 on Rosenthal’s list.
During a seven-game stretch late in the season, Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr threw just six touchdowns versus six interceptions. Rosenthal ranked Carr just ahead of Wilson at No. 10.