By Greg Stoda Palm Beach Post
DAVIE, Fla. — The sample size is tiny.
Ten games — just more than half an NFL season — does not a career path set.
But in the inevitable comparison of rookie starting quarterbacks, Seattle’s Russell Wilson has been better than Miami’s Ryan Tannehill — and not by a little.
This is pertinent, because their teams meet toay at Sun Life Stadium and Tannehill vs. Wilson will be a primary subplot despite their best efforts to avoid the topic.
They’re friends, after all, after having spent off-season training time together under the tutelage of former Florida State and NFL quarterback Chris Weinke.
“We’re pretty close, actually,” Wilson said. “We texted the other night.”
They aren’t close in terms of stature — Wilson is 5-105/8 to Tannehill’s 6-4 — or accomplishment.
Wilson has almost twice as many touchdown passes as interceptions thrown (15/8) while Tannehill has almost twice as many interceptions thrown (11) as touchdown passes (6). That’s the best explanation for Wilson’s 90.5-70.8 edge on Tannehill in passer rating.
So much for Wilson’s lack of height being a concern.
“Doesn’t look like it has really impacted him,” Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said of Wilson. “He’s got a lot of athletic skill that lends itself to the position. He’s got a very strong arm. He’s quick. You can’t watch the film and say, ‘Boy, he’s not playing very well, because he’s (short).’
“It’s hard to put every football player in a box. There are certain desirable qualities that you’d love to have at each position, (but) guys who can line up and play can line up and play.”
Wilson was nothing more than a third-round pick (75th overall) after a splendid college career at North Carolina State and, later, Wisconsin; Tannehill was a first-round pick (eighth overall) after a college career at Texas A&M during which he was a receiver until his junior year.
So, yeah, Wilson has spent more time at the craft.
The Seahawks have beaten Dallas, Green Bay, Carolina and New England this season in games in which Wilson finished with a better passer rating than Tony Romo, Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton and Tom Brady, respectively.
Wilson has more than validated Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll’s faith in him.
“He brings such a great makeup,” Carroll said of Wilson. “His competitiveness, his smarts, his toughness. His work ethic is fantastic. He has a great arm and can run with some escapability.
“You put all that together, and, well, I think we benefit most from him being such a mature kid. He’s level-headed.”
Quiote a recommendation.
Tannehill is a fan, too.
“Hopefully, he doesn’t have one of his better games against us,” Tannehill said. “It’s a matter of growing up quickly, learning quickly and not making the same mistake twice.”
Remember when the Dolphins were dreaming about signing quarterback Matt Flynn as a free-agent escapee from Green Bay, which, presumably, would have eliminated Tannehill from their draft considerations? Well, Flynn signed with the Seahawks and now sits in favor of Wilson.
Not that anybody at Dolphins Inc. should bemoan having missed out on Flynn, because hardly has Tannehill been a bust.
But the complication for Tannehill is that he has shown some regression along the learning curve recently while Wilson is demonstrating a firm grasp of all matters. The Seahawks are winning in large part because of Wilson’s maturation as a quarterback, and the Dolphins are 4-6 in large part because of Tannehill’s stagnation.
“I get (to the Seahawks’ practice facility) at 6 o’clock in the morning every morning,” Wilson said. “I don’t treat myself as a rookie. I try to lead these guys and put my best foot forward all the time.
“I don’t worry about (my height). It does fuel me a little bit. I know I don’t believe my height defines my skill set.”
And he’s good enough that Miami defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle compared him to an undersized quarterback from another era.
“Fran Tarkenton,” Coyle said.
He’s only a Hall of Famer, so, high praise.
Higher than anything said about Tannehill.