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The MVP case for Russell Wilson

Russell Wilson MVP

Even with Aaron Rodgers sidelined at the moment, the conversation in regards to the best NFL quarterbacks is basically Rodgers, Tom Brady and then everybody else. However, one more name needs to be added to that conversation, and that would be Russell Wilson.

If you take the word valuable to heart in the phrase “Most Valuable Player,” Wilson should have an MVP trophy on his mantle before long.

Why is he overlooked?

There are a number of answers here. Seattle is not one of the NFL’s glamour franchises. Moreover, unless you have a living legend like Peyton Manning or you are the Lakers, West Coast teams as a whole are often undervalued by the mainstream media in any sport.

As ridiculous as it sounds, Wilson’s Seahawks were actually underdogs to Manning’s Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII. This has to do with time zones and most major American media companies being based on the East Coast. So that will not be changing anytime soon.

Wilson also never says anything particularly interesting, which is not a bad thing. More importantly, he never says the wrong thing. Throughout the Pete Carroll era, Seattle’s identity has been a defense led by outspoken players like Richard Sherman and Michael Bennett. Wilson has always been content in letting those guys do all the talking for the media to eat up. This makes it even easier for him to get lost in the shuffle in terms of praise and accolades.

We live in an age of technology, analytics and numbers. So many efforts are made to make NFL talent evaluation an exact science, but Wilson is perhaps the best example of how impossible that is.

We have yet to come up with a statistic or drill that adequately measures Wilson’s ability to pull off plays like the one below from the NFL’s YouTube channel. There is not another quarterback on the planet who can pull that off.

If you were to genetically engineer an NFL quarterback, it would look a lot like Rodgers and nothing like Wilson. His style is one we rarely see in the NFL, and it facilitates a different kind of greatness. It is one that is difficult to quantify, but it deserves to be recognized just the same.

Wilson is carrying the Seahawks

The Seahawks have not missed the playoffs in Wilson’s career. He has always done his part at the very least. However, this year has been a bit different. Seattle’s roster is not as loaded as it has been in past seasons.

Russell Wilson MVP
(Photo from Seattle Times)

Injuries to Sherman and Kam Chancellor have turned a defense that was once great into something average, leaving us all wondering if the “Legion of Boom” is a thing of the past. Seattle has lost two games this year where Wilson and the offense have put up over 25 points. If Seattle put up 25 points a few years ago, you could pretty much mark down a win.

Wilson’s supporting cast on offense has not been much better. Outside of Doug Baldwin and Jimmy Graham, there is not a lot there. You almost need three hands to count the number of running backs the Seahawks have used this year. Some of that is due to injury, while the rest is due to ineffectiveness. That situation has become so dyer that Wilson is also the team’s leading rusher.

Seattle’s history of not paying big money for offensive lineman is well documented. This year, they have gotten what they paid for. They rank 20th in sacks allowed. Keep in mind this offensive line blocks for the most mobile quarterback in football, granted Wilson sometimes holds on to the ball too long. Even so, a less mobile quarterback would get beheaded behind this line.

Looking ahead

Despite all this, Wilson has Seattle squarely in the playoff hunt. Due to bad special teams, their last two losses have them on the outside looking in. Wilson put his team in position to win both games.

The Seahawks will be favorite to win all but one of their remaining games. Beating the teams they should beat will get Seattle in the playoffs. Anything can happen from there.

Raw numbers have kept Wilson from MVP conversations in the past. That certainly is not the case this year. He is tied for third in touchdown passes and ranks fifth in passing yards. Accounting for over 80 percent of Seattle’s  total offense means that Wilson is being forced to do much more than guys like Tom Brady and Carson Wentz.

Fantasy football is not always the best metric to determine a player’s effectiveness or importance. However, it is appropriate for Wilson this season. He is the top quarterback in ESPN standard scoring leagues this year.

There is nothing inherently wrong with the MVP award going to Brady or Wentz based on the solid but tired “best player on the best team” logic. However, no player is more important to their team than Russell Wilson.

 

Featured image from Boston Herald 

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