The NFL has shifted from the regular season into playoff mode this week. However, our look at Gillette's No Debate question of the week continues, with this week's question asking which player performed against all the odds this year?
Gillette intends these questions, and if you head over to their Facebook page you can share your answer there, to be an NFL-wide question. In that spirit, I will given an answer before we turn that over to a Miami Dolphins specific version. For the NFL, there are two answers that obviously jump out, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson and Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, both of whom came back from injuries this year to perform at MVP levels this year. However, I am going to give it to someone else.
Seattle Seahawaks quarterback Russell Wilson beat the odds this year to not only become an NFL quarterback, but to start his rookie year, and lead the team to the playoffs. Wilson was drafted in the third round due to his height (5',11"). He went to Seattle, where they had brought in free agent quarterback Matt Flyyn on a three-year, $26 million contract, with $10 million guaranteed. Wilson was expected to serve as Flynn's backup, but simply beat out the veteran for the job.
So now, a below the magical 6-foot mark that all of the NFL says a quarterback must be to succeed, rookie quarterback was installed as the starter for the Seahawks. And, once he was installed as the starter, Wilson ran with it. He compiled 3,118 yards on 252-for-393 passing (64.1%) with 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, giving him a 100.0 passer rating on the year. He also had 489 rushing yards on 94 carries with 4 touchdowns. And, of course, the Seahawks climbed to an 11-5 record on the season and a Wildcard game this weekend against the Washington Redskins.
As for the Dolphins' player who performed against all odds, I have two answers. The first is rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Like Wilson, Tannehill was expected to sit this year, even though he had the advantage of being picked in the first round, and he is 6',4". According to the media, the Dolphins came into the year expected to completely fail. They had no weapons and would not win more than three games.
Yet, the Dolphins went 7-9 under Tannehill, the first Dolphins rookie quarterback to start all 16 games for the franchise, and the rookie played well. He was overshadowed all season by first overall pick Andrew Luck and second overall pick Robert Griffin III, as well as Wilson, but Tannehill's performance was not bad, including setting several franchise rookie records.
Tannehill's season stats were 282-for-484 (58.3%), 3,294 yards, 12 touchdowns, 13 interceptions, 76.1 passer rating, 29 rushes, 211 yards, 2 touchdowns.
I will also say wide receiver Brian Hartline beat the odd this year. With the Dolphins coming into the season with the "worst receiving corps in the NFL" Hartline emerged as the only threat the Dolphins had in the passing game. With opposing defenses actively game planning to keep Hartline out of the Miami passing game, the veteran wide out still caught a career high 74 passes for a career high 1,083. He only found the end zone once on the year, but he clearly out played any expectations of the Dolphins wide receivers.
Who are your players who performed against all the odds this season? Let us know in the comments below.