Everything was looking so easy for Russell Wilson.
And then it became clear just how necessary it was for him to be perfect on a weekly basis to give the Seahawks their best chance to win.
At the season’s midpoint, the once-presumptive favorite for MVP has reached a crossroads. Fair or not, it has a lot to do with what’s happening when he’s not even on the field.
On Sunday, Bob Condotta wrote that, despite a rare off day from Wilson, the loss to the Bills “seemed to prove that, for as good as Wilson is, he and the offense really might not be enough to overcome the defense.”
And from columnist Matt Calkins’ perspective, Wilson’s four turnovers weren’t the reason for the loss. “The Seahawks, who came into the contest scoring a league-best 34.3 points per game, still hung 34 on the scoreboard,” he wrote.
But while the loudest criticism locally was saved for the Seahawks’ defense, national media focused on what that atrocious showing meant for Wilson — and the Seahawks’ ability to contend as a whole.
So, cue up Robin Williams’ “it’s not your fault” speech from “Good Will Hunting” and read what national media had to say about the Seahawks’ loss to the Bills.
ESPN’s Bill Barnwell now has Wilson behind Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes in the MVP race.
Wilson was my pick through four weeks and a huge favorite through the first half of the Cardinals game in Week 7. Since then, while he has made some big plays, he also has turned the ball over seven times, including three giveaways in the second half to let Arizona back in the game and four against the Bills on Sunday. As good as he has been this year, those turnovers — and brutally bad work in the secondary — have led to Seattle’s two losses. In the big picture, Wilson still has an excellent MVP résumé. … If it weren’t for that recent rash of turnovers, the Seahawks might be 8-0 and Wilson would be an easy MVP pick.
The Ringer’s Danny Heifetz still believes Wilson is the MVP at the season’s midpoint.
Wilson struggled in Sunday’s loss to the Bills, but one game should not overshadow what he has done this season. … Wilson has dragged Seattle to a 6-2 record and first place in the NFL’s most competitive division. The Seahawks need Wilson to be this good because their defense is an abomination. … Back in the Legion of Boom days, Wilson’s job was to not screw up the game for Seattle’s legendary defense. Now, his job is to clean up the defense’s mess. While many contenders have some other recourse to win games, the Seahawks do not: Either Wilson wins a shoot-out, or Seattle loses.
CBS Sports’ John Breech gave the Seahawks’ showing in Buffalo a D- grade.
Seattle came out of the gate flat both offensively and defensively. As Russell Wilson and company were shut out in the first quarter, the Bills dropped 14 points and never looked back. Wilson seemed to be pressing a number of times throughout the game, specifically when targeting Tyler Lockett. That duo connected on just four of their seven targets for 40 yards. On top of failing to protect Wilson, the Seahawks offense was inefficient on third down (25% conversation rate). While Wilson did commit four turnovers, the Seattle defense couldn’t stop the Bills offense at all, creating even more pressure for the offense to come away with touchdowns on every possession, which is unsustainable. If they don’t fix that defense soon, it could become a fatal flaw.
Yahoo Sports’ Frank Schwab wrote that Wilson’s grip on MVP could be slipping, although it’s not his fault.
Sunday was an example of the Seahawks’ shortcomings. … Everyone looks good against the Seahawks defense this season. A couple weeks ago Wilson was the runaway favorite to win MVP, and he still could win it, but if the Seahawks start to lose games voters will move on to other fun stories. Even if it’s not all his fault. Wilson wasn’t perfect Sunday, or even close to it. He threw a bad interception into the end zone. He lost a fumble. He still made plays, but he has no margin for error because Seattle hasn’t done enough to put a better roster around him.
In this week’s MMQB, Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer wrote that “it’s bizarre to see a Pete Carroll defense in Seattle and recognize that it’s giving another team a ‘get well’ spot on the schedule.”
Seattle infused Carlos Dunlap into the lineup in Buffalo, and brought Jamal Adams back into it, and the Seahawks allowed more point than they have all year. I don’t know how fixable this is. The talent isn’t what it once was on that side of the ball, but it isn’t this bad. And they’ve had injuries (Marquise Blair and Bruce Irvin are out for the year, Adams and Shaquill Griffin missed time), but it’s not like that’s enough to account for Seattle being 32nd in total defense. So for now, it’s on Wilson to win games for them, and buy time for the defense to find itself. And if it doesn’t find itself? History tells us that would probably mean a quick end to the season in January.
NBC Sports’ Peter King is glad he doesn’t have to vote for MVP yet.
I think I’m glad I don’t have to vote for MVP today. Went into Sunday liking Russell Wilson narrowly. He didn’t play well Sunday in Buffalo, and Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers were great, and Ben Roethlisberger survived a bum knee to brawl out a win in Dallas, and maybe Josh Allen and Dalvin Cook will get in the race. Kyler? Brady? Brees? There’s no clear favorite right now.
One of Sports Illustrated’s Gary Grambling’s Week 9 takeaways was Josh Allen outdueling Wilson.
The gap in quarterback play in this one was enormous, with Allen simply outclassing Russell Wilson. Allen will have his ups and downs, but right now he’s the reason a team with an underperforming defense is sitting at 7-2 and just depantsed the presumptive MVP favorite.