The NFL’s Divisional Playoffs get lit on Saturday night with Black Knight QBs taking center stage in the second matchup at 8:15 pm on Fox.
For Cam it was one more step towards rekindling the terminator-like gangsta of his historical rookie season in 2011, when he stormed the NFL scene and crushed new jack passing and rushing records with 4,051 yards, over 700 yards rushing and 14 TD’s on the ground to go with 21 aerial accents.
Some touted him the “next great black QB.” Others preferred to call him the “first of his kind.” A Warren Moon with wheels. Doug Williams with twice the speed and before his knees were shot. A combination of Dan Fouts and Mike Vick. We now see that those comparisons may have been a bit lofty, but we can neither discount a player nor anoint a King after four seasons.
Unless he’s named Ru$$ell “The Hustle” Wilson, the unheralded pigskin slinger who has had to Wild Wild West his way into the record books.
By 2012, RG3, Andrew Luck, Wilson and later Colin Kaepernick blew up the scene and Cam was going through his sophomore tribulations with a janky Panthers offensive supporting cast. Newton’s stock dropped quicker than a New York minute as these other guys rose to popularity and fame and dominated headlines.
Everybody has a personal favorite among the group, but real talk, Wilson is the only one with Super Bowl bling. Last season Wilson made history as the second black QB to win The Lombardi Trophy, but the magnitude of his individual accomplishments was a bit overshadowed by his supporting defense—one of the best the NFL has ever seen. It was even implied by some that he was the “black Trent Dilfer.” A game-manager who does just enough to keep his team in it until the D can put the finishing touches on a “W.”
All this crazy talk was odd considering that Wilson exhibited the kind of tremendous elusiveness, passing prowess, field vision and play-making ability that Dilfer could only dream of possessing.
Wilson was a proactive QB in leading Seattle to its first Super Bowl in franchise history and this season he has continued to improve as a leader with a Seahawks D that's not quite as formidable (still ranked No. 1 however).
Early in the season, Seattle was experiencing the typical Super Bowl let down and dealing with changes in personnel and periodic complacency while falling to 3-3 after back-to-back losses to the Dallas Cowboys and St. Louis Rams. It was clear that the Seattle D was still rocking, but the crafty Wilson would have to expand his game and win with his arm a bit more; something RG3 hasn’t been able to do and Carolina won’t let Cam do anymore (it seems).
Wilson once again slayed all suspect soldiers and doubters and responded to HC Pete Carroll’s needs with career highs in attempts (452), completions (285) and passing yards (3,475). The progression was definitely there and Wilson navigated Seattle out of those murky waters—as he has done time and time again in myriad ways—and they closed out the season winning 9 of 10 games to finish at 12-4. They enter the playoffs hot as fish grease and riding a six-game win streak.
The Panthers similarly dug themselves out of a hole this season and were able to snatch the futile NFC South with a 7-8-1 record.
After basically living in QB obscurity the past few seasons, Cam has a chance to remind heads of how nice he is as a signal caller. A large contingent of NFL Nation believes the Panthers are a spitting image of Seattle.
"It's kind of weird playing them, because it's almost like you're looking in the mirror," Bennett said this week, according to The Daily Herald. "It's a team that has similar attributes all over, similar qualities — both quarterbacks are both mobile, big receivers — well we don't have any big receivers, but we have big-hearted receivers — powerful running backs, great defensive lines and linebacker play. So it's a good game."
"It's so much alike, man, “ Bennett continued. “It's like you look at a girl who looks like you, and you find out it's your cousin, so you can't go on a date with her even though you'd like to, because she looks like you," Bennett said. "But then you see her friend, and her friend's really hot, and you're like, 'That's not my cousin,' so it's good."
I don’t give Bennett too much props for his weak analogies. I don’t give Carolina much of a chance to win this game either. But it is the playoffs and Cam is due for some prime time shine. On Saturday, we have what could be the hardest-hitting, nail-biter of the weekend.
Carolina was given a division gift from the football gods and Cam will surely try to take advantage of it, but his odds are rough.
Only a fool would make the same mistake of overlooking Russell Wilson, but the playoff chatter has already begun. Analysts and expert have been pontificating about strategy and Beast Mode and the clash of the defenses, but this game will be decided by the QBs.
While Cam has an opportunity to get himself reacquainted with the elite QB club by upsetting the Super Bowl champs on Saturday, Wilson has a chance to improve on an unprecedented legacy that he started last season. One in which he defies odds and metrics and meaningless measurements and like the mighty Dúnedain slays Orcs and formidable giants.
Only seven QBs have won back-to-back Super Bowls in NFL history. The last to to do it was Tom Brady in 2003 and 2004. If Wilson can complete the journey again starting with Saturday's game, he ascends to even more rarified heir that can only be measured against other NFL titans with years of excellence individual and team-oriented accolades.