By John Boyle Herald Columnist
RENTON — Doug Baldwin is not comfortable with this line of questioning.
The Seahawks receiver, who has a unique perspective having caught passes from two of the NFL’s best young quarterbacks, isn’t thrilled when he’s asked to compare Russell Wilson, his current quarterback, to Andrew Luck, his quarterback at Stanford.
“Next question,” Baldwin says, before letting out a big sigh and deciding to briefly entertain the question. “They’re both very, very good quarterbacks. Highly intelligent, both can make plays with their feet, both have great arms.”
Baldwin then chuckles, “I don’t want to take it any further than that.”
Baldwin isn’t uneasy because he has a problem talking about either quarterback. He could go on and on about how great both are; he just doesn’t want to have to say who is better.
And maybe we all should take a lesson from a receiver put on the spot. In this era of nonstop sports debate on TV and radio, there’s a constant need to emphatically say who is best, to make concrete declarations, to have a strong opinion on everything. But with Wilson and Luck facing off for the first time in Indianapolis today, why can’t we just appreciate the greatness of both without crowning somebody the next great NFL quarterback?
Obviously, Colts fans and Seahawks fans will be rooting for one or the other, but don’t worry about winning the my-quarterback-is-better-than-quarterback argument. If somebody says Luck is better, noting that he was asked to do more in order to carry a less-talented team to the playoffs last year, that’s not a slap in the face to Wilson. And if somebody contends Wilson is better, citing the better passer rating, more touchdowns and fewer interceptions as a rookie, that person’s not a delusional Seahawks fan. Just enjoy that you’re watching two of the game’s best young talents leading the way for playoff-caliber teams.
After all, if the members of this next generation of young QBs, players such as Luck, Wilson, Robert Griffin III and Colin Kaepernick, can appreciate each other’s ability with making comparisons, we should be able to as well.
“I have a lot of respect for him,” Wilson said of Luck. “I’ve gotten to know him over the past year or so, being at the Pro Bowl and everything and some of the events that we’ve done together. Just a tremendous kid. A guy who just loves the game of football; (a) very, very intelligent football player, has a lot of success, done a lot of great things, obviously.”
Luck was equally effusive in his praise of this week’s opponent.
“Oh my gosh, he’s a phenomenal playmaker when things go south,” Luck said. “NFL arm strength, he can make every throw, you see him spinning out, running backwards, and chucking the ball 70 yards down field in stride to someone running, which is incredibly impressive. So, when things sort of go south or guys run free, his ability to extend plays and make something happen is very impressive.”
Can’t we just agree that the two, while different, are both great, and that both franchises are in great hands for years to come? Can’t we just appreciate Luck’s ability as a pocket passer — though he’s a much better athlete and runner than he’s sometimes given credit for because he looks the part of prototypical quarterback.
“The guy runs under a 4.6 (40-yard dash) and you can’t get him,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “… You would think of him as a pocket quarterback, but he’s way more than that because he has the explosiveness and he’s tough, too.”
And can’t we just appreciate Wilson’s ability to make magic happen when the play breaks down — though he’s a much better pocket passer than he’s sometimes given credit for because he produces a couple of how-the-heck-did-he-do-that escape acts each week.
“He’s very underrated as a drop-back passer,” Luck said. “He can make all of the throws. You see it when you watch games, and I think he’s as impressive just dropping back and going through his reads as he is rolling out around and making plays happen.”
If you’re a Seahawks fan, pinch yourself to make sure you didn’t dream up a scenario in which your team found a star quarterback in the third round, 73 picks after the two sure things, and after the likes of Ryan Tannehill, Brandon Weeden, Brock Osweiler and even a punter. (Yes, I’ve brought this up a few times before, but it’s still amazing to me that the Jaguars drafted a punter five picks before Wilson).
Who cares if Wilson or Luck is better.
If you’re the Seahawks, the fact that the two are even in the same conversation shows how amazing a draft pick that was, and how much the bold decision to start Wilson over Matt Flynn last year paid off. And if you’re a Colts fan, count your blessings that a franchise that enjoyed 13 years of Peyton Manning dominance got to seamlessly transition to Luck, who is pretty much what you would end up with if you created the perfect NFL quarterback (wait, there’s got to be a good Russell-Wilson-is-a-robot joke in here somewhere).
“I’m on record saying I believe that Andrew Luck can be the greatest quarterback to ever play the game of football,” Baldwin said. “I don’t like to compare guys, but when I look at Andrew, especially his rookie season, he took control of a team that really didn’t have much around him and he brought them to the playoffs. He didn’t have a defense, didn’t have a running game, and they made it to the playoffs.”
Wilson did have a defense, he did have a running game, and he also made the playoffs. That doesn’t make what he accomplished last year — the road comebacks in the playoffs, the 26 touchdowns, which tied a rookie record, the 100.0 passer rating — any less impressive. It’s just different.
Luck and Wilson are similar in a lot of ways, but they’re also different players who were put in different situations. There’s no easy answer to the question of who’s better.
And that’s OK, we don’t need one. Let’s just appreciate the greatness of both.
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.