The Steve Young/Russell Wilson Comparison
Steve Young and Russell Wilson both fell into situations that are similar to each other. Both quarterbacks joined teams that were already set up to succeed. However, Steve Young had to follow the act of a four-time Super Bowl champion in Joe Montana. The Seahawks selected Wilson in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft.
Wilson’s leadership attributes and ability to leave the pocket grabbed the attention of head coach Pete Carroll. Carroll would go on to name Wilson as the Seahawks starting quarterback in 2012. The Seahawks did have high hopes for signing free agent quarterback Matt Flynn to a three-year deal worth $26 million, with 10 million guaranteed.
The emergence of Wilson in training camp would change all of that. With Wilson under center, the Seahawks have made it to the postseason in each season that he has started in Seattle. Unlike Steve Young, who had skill positions to utilize at his disposal, that was not the case for Russell Wilson. The Seahawks front office would surround Wilson with a power running game and an elite defense that could change the outcome of a ball game at a moment’s notice.
Russell Wilson’s ability to elude defenders turned the Seahawks rushing attack into a two-headed monster. The only difference between Young and Wilson is that Russell is more of an intelligent scrambler than Young. Steve Young played the game with reckless abandonment like attitude. Young would go on the put up MVP numbers during his tenure as 49ers’ starting quarterback. However, that reckless abandonment would catch up to Young. Steve Young was forced to retire due to the numerous concussions that he suffered throughout his career.
Young had an improvisational streak that Montana lacked, and used his ability to leave the pocket to help move the chains when the passing game broke down. The unique feature of Steve Young’s career was that he became the 49ers full-time starter at the age of 31. Two seasons later, Young would go on to win a Super Bowl to come out of Montana’s shadow. Steve Young dominated the league without receiving the same amount of respect as Brett Favre, Jim Kelly, and Dan Marino.
Earlier in his career he was viewed as a bust with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Under the tutelage of Bill Walsh, Young revived his career into becoming one of the top efficient quarterbacks in NFL history. While Young went on to put up big numbers and an eventual Hall of Fame career, that legacy was not guaranteed in his second year as starting quarterback of the 49ers.
A career backup to that point, and already considered a bust in Tampa Bay, Young had a lot to prove. The fact that he went on to prove himself above and beyond expectations is a testament to his will never to quit. Wilson has quickly emerged from being an undersized third round draft pick to one of the premier passers in the National Football League.
His skill set seems to fit perfectly suited to winning ball games. The fact that Young was 31 in his second year as a starter for the 49ers detracts a bit, but we also knew his result was a Hall-of-Fame career. For the 26-year-old Wilson, the sky is the limit. The Seahawks front office traded for All-Pro tight end Jimmy Graham, to bolster the Seahawks passing game. Wilson’s passing numbers are expected to rise since the 6’7 Graham is on the roster. It will be interesting to see how Wilson’s career pans out after those pieces on defense began to fall off, due to free agency.
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