Matchups to watch: Manning vs Wilson

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Peyton Manning and Russell Wilson shook hands this preseason, not knowing they'd meet again.What’s the difference between Russell Wilson and Peyton Manning? Other than 226 games, 151 wins, 63,908 yards and 471 touchdown passes (including the playoffs)...

Manning is the Denver Broncos offense, and he’s compensated as such: his $17.5 million cap hit is approximately 25 times as much as Wilson's ($681,085). Passing yards account for 74 percent of Denver’s yards from scrimmage, fourth highest in the league, while only the Bills, 49ers and Jets gained a lower percentage of yards through the air than Seattle.

The Super Bowl pits two quarterbacks as statistically different as possible against each other. Here’s a look at how Wilson and Manning play the same position in very different ways.


The two Super Bowl offenses are timed very differently. Peyton Manning’s average pass takes 2.34 seconds from snap to release, almost a half-second quicker than Russell Wilson (2.82).

Including scrambles and sacks, Wilson’s average time in pocket is 3.18 seconds, well ahead of Manning’s 2.37-second average.

Super Bowl QBs - 2013 Season

Manning’s average throw is shorter and released quicker than Wilson’s average, leaving more of Manning’s offense to be gained after the catch.

Denver receivers gained a league-high 2,583 yards after catch this season, 1,054 more than Seahawks receivers this year. Denver posted 82 completions this season with at least 10 yards after catch, most in the league and 31 more than the Seahawks (51, T-8th-fewest in NFL).


One reason Wilson’s time before pass is so high is his tendency to extend plays outside the pocket. Wilson had a league-high 91 attempts outside the pocket this season, compared to Manning’s 19 (four of which were throwaways).

Manning was never known for his mobility, but he didn’t even attempt a scramble this season. Fifty-five players had at least one scramble, including Manning’s backup Brock Osweiler. Wilson’s 51 scrambles for 434 yards and 23 first downs led the league this season.

One undesired side effect of Wilson’s style of play is his sack frequency. Wilson was sacked 44 times this season, third-most in the league and second-most among Super Bowl quarterbacks in the last 10 years (2008: Ben Roethlisberger, 46).

Manning (2.7 percent) was the only quarterback sacked on fewer than 3.5 percent of dropbacks. Manning’s 18 sacks were the fewest of any quarterback who appeared in at least 10 games, and his total was one fewer than Wilson’s total over the five-game stretch from Weeks 4-8 this season.


No one was blitzed more this season than Wilson, and no one saw fewer blitzes than Manning. Manning’s reputation is deservedly strong when handling extra pass rushers, but Wilson’s performance against added pressure didn’t justify the aggressive approach he faced.

Super Bowl QBs vs 5+ Pass Rushers
2013 Season

Wilson’s Total QBR against the blitz was the fifth best in the league among qualified quarterbacks and easily the best among the most-blitzed quarterbacks in the league. The rest of the top-10 combined for a 47.3 Total QBR against the blitz, and from that group only Cam Newton (68.6) was within 15 points of Wilson’s 76.1.

Passing deep

One area the two are similar is deep passing. Manning completed 48.1 percent of attempts at least 20 yards downfield, averaging 16.5 yards per attempt (both best among 23 players with at least 40 attempts). Wilson wasn’t far behind, ranking third in yards per attempt (15.2) and second in completion percentage (44.4 percent) on those throws.

Manning’s deep ball was heavily scrutinized this season, but not necessarily with good reason. Thirty-five of Manning’s 79 attempts at least 20 yards downfield were off-target or broken up (44 percent), tied for his lowest percentage in a season since 2006.