With the announcement that Russell Wilson will start the Seahawks’ season opener, it lifted the number of rookie quarterbacks scheduled to start on the NFL’s opening weekend to five.
And that, according to Elias Sports Bureau, would be the most since the 1970 NFL/AFL merger. By far. The most rookies to start in previous openers was two, including last season when the Panthers’ Cam Newton and Bengals’ Andy Dalton did it.
But Wilson was a third-round draft choice – the 75th selection overall – while the other four scheduled starters were selected in the first round: Andrew Luck, No. 1 overall by the Colts; Robert Griffin III, No. 2 by the Redskins; Ryan Tannehill, No. 8 by the Dolphins; and Brandon Weeden, the 28-year-old who was taken at No. 22 by the Browns.
While Wilson and the Seahawks will open on the road against the Cardinals in Arizona on Sept. 9, Luck will face the Bears in Chicago; Griffin will face the Saints in New Orleans; and Tannehill will face the Texans in Houston. Only Weeden will play at home, against the Eagles.
“Times have shifted, and if we don’t acknowledge that then we’re just putting our head in the sand,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said of the trend toward going with rookies earlier. “Times have changed with the young guys. And it goes to their upbringing. They’ve had tremendous coaching and great experience. They come to us with a savvy that’s just almost unrecognizable, because they know so much.”
For Wilson, he played in West Coast-style offense at North Carolina State for three seasons before switching to a pro-style offense at Wisconsin last season. He has commented on how the mix of the two offenses has prepared him for the hybrid of the West Coast offense used by the Seahawks.
“He didn’t come in having to learn everything from scratch,” Carroll said. “And he ran a very sophisticated offense with tons of NFL influence on all the play-pass games and all the style of the throwing game they did at Wisconsin has carried over as well. He was very fortunate he had that mix.
“But it’s more about it’s just a different time now.”