When you look at how Seahawks QB Russell Wilson has played over this three-game stretch — and how he endured the first seven games despite feeling pain from pec to toe — it’s hard not to consider him for the award.
If he wasn’t on the short list already, he has to be there now.
After three weeks of health, highlights and occasional heroics, Russell Wilson put himself into a certain conversation.
Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott is right there, too — as are Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott and Raiders QB Derek Carr. But these days, when you mention Wilson’s name, you must at least consider thinking “M-V-P.”
“I don’t know who else would be above him,” said Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin, who dismissively responded “I guess” when Prescott and Carr were mentioned as possibilities. “I don’t know who’s playing better than him right now. He’s the best player in the league right now by far. “
Teammates, of course, are obligated to tout their quarterbacks as the best in the game regardless of the situation. There is likely a Cleveland Brown who would say Charlie Whitehurst is the top signal-caller if asked.
But when you look at the way Wilson has performed over this three-game stretch — and when you look at how he endured the first seven games despite feeling pain from pec to toe — it’s hard not to start considering him for the NFL’s top individual award.
The criteria is simple: Which player is most valuable to his team? It’s not who put up the gaudiest numbers. It’s not who posted the most wins. It’s whose presence was most instrumental to his team’s success.
And when you think about the way the Seahawks are set up, is there another quarterback in the league who would make this offense work?
To be clear, that’s a different question than “Is there any quarterback in the league better than Wilson?” Because you could argue there are others with equal, if not greater talent.
But when it comes to the combination of elusiveness and pocket-passing ability, no one has as distinct a skill set as Russell.
This is critical when trying to appraise his value to the Seahawks. By all indications, the front office neglected the offensive line because it knew Wilson could evade pressure like nobody else in the league.
That doesn’t mean he’d be better than Tom Brady in the Patriots’ system or as adept as Drew Brees in the Saints’. But based on the way Seattle’s offense is designed, Wilson is the key that can’t be duplicated.
That fact has been on full display over this three-game winning streak, as Wilson has thrown eight touchdown catches and no interceptions. He has also passed for 304 yards per game over that stretch, averaged 9.56 yards per pass, and has completed 67 percent of his attempts.
Inside the locker room, however, those numbers pale in comparison to the mediocre ones he posted through the first seven games. Why? Because some would say he shouldn’t have been on the field.
“I think you have guys who have thrown for more yards, but it’s just different (with Wilson),” said Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, whose team beat the Eagles, 26-15, to improve to 7-2-1. “He doesn’t get enough credit for fighting through injury…torn pec, ankle injury, knee injury back-to-back-to-back-to-back and he’s still going out there and winning games.”
After the Seahawks’ loss to the Saints, I wondered aloud whether Wilson was getting a pass when he deserved blame for Seattle’s offensive shortcomings. But based on what he has done since regaining his mobility, I’d say he had a pretty sound excuse.
That’s also why Wilson’s MVP stock will likely rise over these final six games, as he’ll be able to showcase his skill uninhibited by injury.
If I had a to pick a guy right now, I’d probably go with Prescott or Ezekiel. But then I think about how good Dallas’ offensive line is, and wonder if it’s making good players look great. Carr has a great case, too, except that Wilson surpassed him in passer rating last week and will likely keep going up. Brady, meanwhile, is the best QB in the league, but it’s tough to pick a guy who missed a quarter of the season.
So is it possible Wilson is the leader right now?
“We’re not talking about that,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “A long way to go.”
Yeah, Carroll is probably right. There are countless possibilities as to how the rest of the season might turn out. But if history is an indication, the Seahawks are going to excel throughout the second half of the year.
So keep an eye on Wilson. His play could merit major accolades.
We know he’s the most critical piece to his team, but he may be the most valuable player in the league.