Russell Wilson's height, passing, and Statistics 101

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  • Not sure if this has been brought up by anyone before, but all this talk about RW's short stature and using height as a predictor of success as a QB in the NFL got me thinking about some basic rules when using Statistics. In Stats, it is fairly easy with developed mathematical models to prove correlations between 2 variables, but where a lot of people get into trouble when applying statistics is thinking that correlation means causation. For example, I can prove mathematically that the life expectancy in a country is directly related to the number of television sets per capita (which is absolutely true BTW). Should this fact lead me to conclude that TVs are so healthy for people that they extend their life? Or should I look for another factor tying in those 2 variables- in this case TVs are most likely representative of a higher standard of living, which means better healthcare, hospitals , etc. In Statistics this is called the "lurking variable". My point is this, what if all this years NFL teams have thought that height is important in and of itself due to being able to see over the line...but what if reality the really important factor was let's say hands size (and the resulting ability to grab the ball better and generate better velocity from spin)/ Not entirely sure on the physics aspects of this, but the size of RW's hands is something Brock Huard has mentioned often. So. it just so happened that taller people have longer fingers and bigger hands more often so everyone assumes the height itself is the important thing. Maybe some time down the road, they'll be measuring only the hands of the QBs, not their actual height at the Combine. I am certainly not convinced how much difference a couple of inches can possibly make when you are standing behind an O-line made of 6'7" monsters...I would appreciate your feedback- I am not a frequent poster, but I feel I may be onto something here- at least as a discussion starter if nothing else.
    zvjar
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  • Nah wilsons height is a kinda big probelm, especially when a DT collapses the pocket, he can't see at all.

    But with negatives there are positives, and while tall dinosaurs like Joe Flacco can see over the line whenever, he doesn't have much mobility. Why do you think the best scrambling QB's (Vick, steve young, fran tarkenton) also happened to be short?

    Basically, wilson really struggles to see, but many people have pointed out that he's kinda pioneering short QB football in how to play, basically finding throwing lanes very well, and then you get the added bonus of his insane elusiveness, which defenders can't tackle AND struggle to see him in the pocket cause he's so short.

    We got a major steal in wilson.
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    hawksfan515
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  • It's very simple. Wilson was an elite QB that was an exception to a rule where exceptions are very rare. Short QBs that succeed are so rare that Wilson was ruled out instantly and automatically by most, and since he was ruled out so quickly, evaluators did not do their due diligence investigating if height really did effect Wilson's performance. That was the real mistake they made, because if they did their homework they would have seen that height was a very minor factor, not a deal breaker as it usually is. Teams made the exact same mistake with Tom Brady, if you replace height with athleticism. I think the lesson is, if a QB is obviously special but he has just one big flaw, he's probably worth taking a chance on with a lower pick, especially if you are willing to scheme around that flaw.

    The other important factor- Wilson needed to go to a team that appreciated his height handicap and could scheme around it. Carroll is the perfect coach for Wilson. Carroll is constantly putting players in position to succeed. He's always finding ways to emphasize a player's strengths and minimize their weaknesses. If Wilson had gone to a place that is clueless with handling QBs, somewhere like AZ or NYJ, he would have had a tougher time finding success.
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    kearly
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  • I think people usually like to find the easy way out and just give the benefits of the doubt to taller people versus looking at what one can do. Brees is an example of a short QB, who defies all odds. Brees was a "failure" in San Diego ... let's not forget that. Rivers was drafted, because Brees couldn't deliver. Many coaches/scouts are simply lazy.

    Russell Wilson was pushed out of NC State, because his backup was a 6ft6 tall guy and people thought his height and arm strength will win games. Not many people will remember Mike Glennon 's career at NC State , but NFL scouts will most likely rate him much higher than Wilson, because of his height.

    I'm convinced, Russell Wilson will redefine the QB Position for the next Generation. I'm really glad Pete Caroll thought completely outside the box and gave him not only a chance. He was decisive with his decision. He stuck with him, when things weren't perfect. Pete Caroll needs to be commended for this.
    If Mike Vick had half of RW's IQ and the same work ethic, he would have won many Superbowls already. Just my opinion. Vick could have been the true pioneer for short QBs.
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  • Brief comment regarding the replacement of Wilson by Glennon that usually isn't mentioned when the situation at NC State is mentioned. Due to the Glennon having finished his degree early (like Wilson), the coach was stuck having to choose Wilson (without Spring practice) for one year or Glennon for two years. This on a team that lacked a running game, etc. Glennon was probably gone if Wilson was back. That would have left NC State breaking in a new QB after Wilson left, instead of giving them another year to mature. Not sure I would have taken the coach's choice, but understand it wasn't as straightforward as is thought.

    Back on topic. One of the items that pundits seemed to miss when disparaging Wilson due to his height, was his overall strength. They constantly referred to the lack of successful short QBs, but missed this point. Most shorter QBs have an overall smaller frame and muscle mass. This impacts their ability to handle the physical nature of the NFL.

    Wilson doesn't have this problem. He's very solid, large hands for gripping the ball, etc. This may not give him overall elite top speed, but in the 5-15 foot radius he is very quick and strong enough to shrug off grasping DL.
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  • The expert comments I loved was how RW is not only 4 inches to tall he is 20lbs to light or something to that effect. It was funny how all these experts failed to just note that shorter person weighs less and RW is very compact and muscular like lobo points out above.

    I am also pretty sure there is not a statistic for wins tied to a qb's ability to go underneath defenders like RW did in the 49ers game :)

    Loved that move
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  • Tell me how height is a handicap to RW when I see 6'4" qb's make twice as many terrible decisions and throws a game? So what if he can't see everything every second at all times? Why does that matter when he is better at everything else?
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    SeaTown81
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  • lobohawk wrote:Back on topic. One of the items that pundits seemed to miss when disparaging Wilson due to his height, was his overall strength. They constantly referred to the lack of successful short QBs, but missed this point. Most shorter QBs have an overall smaller frame and muscle mass. This impacts their ability to handle the physical nature of the NFL.

    Wilson doesn't have this problem. He's very solid, large hands for gripping the ball, etc. This may not give him overall elite top speed, but in the 5-15 foot radius he is very quick and strong enough to shrug off grasping DL.


    All this, plus he has the presence of mind to slide when necessary and protect himself from injury. If anyone can handle being a "scrambling college QB" at the NFL level, it's Wilson. He's rewriting the template on which college draft prospects will be evaluated.
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    MontanaHawk05
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  • I think Shack should have played QB.
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  • mikeak wrote:The expert comments I loved was how RW is not only 4 inches to tall he is 20lbs to light or something to that effect. It was funny how all these experts failed to just note that shorter person weighs less and RW is very compact and muscular like lobo points out above.

    I am also pretty sure there is not a statistic for wins tied to a qb's ability to go underneath defenders like RW did in the 49ers game :)

    Loved that move

    There are positives and negatives. Russell is built very solidly relative to his height, which helps to mitigate the concerns about his durability to some extent. His shorter status also means he has a lower center of gravity, and that tends to help with agility. He can also hide behind the line and be harder for tacklers to spot.
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  • How do y'all think RW would have performed if he would have been named the starter sooner, like in training camp before the preseason? Personally, I think his stats would be better and ROY would be much closer to reality. The other two QB's of note had the benefit of the above practice time (and familiarization with recievers) that RW didn't.

    Is it just me or does the thought of Luck as ROY lose a lot of consideration when one considers that the Colts intentionally tanked the past season just to get him, and yet nobody talks about that at all? I have zero respect for any organization that would do that.
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