Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett spoke out in defense of quarterback Russell Wilson on Friday, in wake of Cleveland Browns coach Mike Pettine’s comments that he didn’t consider Wilson among the league’s elite at his position.
Pettine’s stance sparked some blowback as the Browns and Seahawks prepare to face off Sunday. The coach later clarified himself, speaking highly of Wilson’s ability to win games, but the original comments remained a topic of discussion.
“Would you put him there with the guys that can transcend their supporting cast?” Pettine originally said, according to ESPN. "The (Tom) Bradys, whether it’s Aaron Rodgers, (Drew) Brees, (Ben) Roethlisberger, the ones that you would consider the two, three, four elite guys? No. But he’s certainly played himself into that next tier."
The generally outspoken Bennett defended Wilson in an interview with ESPN on Friday. Wilson is currently in midst of one of the hottest streaks of his career, with 16 touchdown passes and no interceptions in his past four games.
“Obviously [Pettine]’s not good at picking quarterbacks,” Bennett said during an interview on 710 ESPN Seattle. “Maybe he doesn’t know what elite is. I think that Russell Wilson is very elite. He’s been to two Super Bowls. It’s only his fourth year. I don’t think a lot of guys can say that.
“There’s a lot of guys with a lot of passing yards that haven’t had any success and don’t even go to the playoffs, like Philip Rivers and guys like that. Drew Brees hasn’t been to the playoffs in two years. So Russell Wilson is definitely an elite quarterback, and he can lead a team...I think Russell Wilson has done a great job of proving that he is up there at the top tier of players.”
Wilson, 27, was a third-round pick in 2012 and has led the Seahawks to consecutive Super Bowls, including Seattle’s victory in 2013. He has made 60 consecutive regular-season starts, with the Seahawks going 44–17 in those games over the past four seasons. He holds a career passer rating of 101.3.
The 8–5 Seahawks host the 3–10 Browns on Sunday.
- Jeremy Woo