Russell Wilson Has Played Like the NFL's Worst Quarterback in Recent Weeks

Wilson now has two of the five worst quarterback performances of the season after appearing to turn his season around.

The Seattle Seahawks may be 8-4-1 and in first place of the NFC West, but they haven't been their dominant selves this season.

Especially Russell Wilson.

This is now his second consecutive season with extended struggles, and after looking like he was back to being himself, he now has had two horrid games out of his last three.

Let's take a look at what's happened using Net Expected Points (NEP), our signature metric. You can read more about it at our glossary.

Recapping 2015

Wilson entered 2015 on the heels of being one of the best quarterbacks in his three seasons according to NEP.

However, in the first nine games, Wilson had a paltry 11 touchdowns and 7 interceptions, and his 0.06 Passing NEP per drop back would have squeezed between that of Blake Bortles and Ryan Tannehill if his season ended there.

Then, he caught fire.

In his last seven games, beginning one week after returning from bye, Wilson threw for 24 touchdowns and just 1 interception and was as efficient as any quarterback in recent years.

Russell Wilson 2015 Weeks 1-10 Weeks 11-17
Games 9 7
Attempts per Game 29.6 31
Yards per Game 234.5 272.3
Touchdowns 11 24
Interceptions 7 1
Passing NEP 17.4 143.1
Pass NEP per Drop Back 0.06 0.62
Success Rate 0.45 0.60

Just look at how different his performance was. Again, this is the same player in the same season on the same team.

Deja Vu

Prior to this season, we didn’t know exactly what to expect from Wilson.

Would he continue to be uber-efficient? Or would he regress to what we saw in the first three seasons of his career?

For the first eight weeks, it turns out we got the Wilson from the first half of 2015.

Russell Wilson 2015 Weeks 1-10 2016 Weeks 1-8
Games 9 7
Attempts per Game 29.6 33.9
Yards per Game 234.5 254.1
Touchdowns 11 5
Interceptions 7 2
Passing NEP 17.4 35.5
Passing NEP per Drop Back 0.06 0.14
Success Rate 0.45 0.51

Wilson was slightly better in the first half of 2016 than in 2015, although some of that appears to be skewed by an outlier. In Week 4, Wilson threw for 309 yards and 3 touchdowns at the New York Jets. I’m not going to exclude that data point, but I will say that the numbers look even more similar if we ignore it temporarily.

On Monday Night Football (an island game, if you will, where all eyes were on him), Wilson appeared to get back on track in the Seahawks’ 31-25 victory over the Buffalo Bills, throwing for 282 yards and 2 touchdowns.

He kept it up for the next two games against the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles. Here's a summary of those three games compared to his 2015 second half.

Weeks 2015 Weeks 11-17 2016 Weeks 9-11
Games 7 3
Attempts per Game 31 31.3
Yards per Game 272.3 300.7
Touchdowns 24 6
Interceptions 1 0
Passing NEP 143.1 43.07
Passing NEP per Drop Back 0.62 0.42
Success Rate 0.60 0.54

His three-game stretch didn’t quite equal that from last year, but nonetheless it was excellent and more efficient than any quarterback can sustain over a full season, similar to 2015.

Pulling the Rug From Under Your Feet

Unlike 2015, Wilson hasn't closed out the season on a hot streak. In Week 12, it came to a screeching halt.

In what many perceived to an easy matchup with a Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense that entered the week ranked 19th against the pass on a per-play basis, per our metrics, a figure boosted by Jay Cutler's breakdown a few weeks prior.

Wilson, 33 attempts, 151 yards, no touchdowns, and 2 interceptions later, posted the second-worst quarterback performance we had seen this season.

His -22.57 Passing NEP was “bested” by Ryan Fitzpatrick’s six-interception masterpiece against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 3, good for -27.23 Passing NEP.

Of course, leave it to Blake Bortles to go for -23.59 in Week 13 and take away Wilson’s silver medal.

Bouncing back with 277 yards with a touchdown and pick in Week 13, Wilson looked ready to show that the Week 12 disaster was a one-time thing.


You can make whatever excuses you please about the snow. I’m just here to tell you he didn’t play well. Thanks to his five interceptions, Wilson grabbed the fifth spot on the “Worst 2016 Quarterback Performances Leaderboard.”

Here are the bottom five, sorted by Passing NEP.

Name Team Opp Week Comp. Att. Yards TD INT P NEP P NEP/P
Ryan Fitzpatrick NYJ KC 3 20 44 188 0 6 -27.23 -0.62
Blake Bortles JAC DEN 13 19 42 181 0 2 -23.59 -0.55
Russell Wilson SEA TB 12 17 33 151 0 2 -22.57 -0.58
Dak Prescott DAL NYG 14 17 37 165 1 2 -20.11 -0.5
Russell Wilson SEA GB 14 22 39 240 1 5 -18.71 -0.45

I don't know what will happen next, but I know for sure this isn't the company Wilson wants to be in.