Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Give Russell Wilson His Due

26-21. The Minnesota Vikings led the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday night and led 13-0 before the third quarter. Just as Seattle was preparing to suffer its first loss of the season, Russell Wilson went to work. On the strength of two fourth-down receptions by D.K. Metcalf, Wilson’s Seahawks drove 94 yards down the field to score the game’s final TD and defeat the Vikings 27-26. Seattle is now 5-0 this season and has one of the most prolific squads in the NFC. None of this is possible without the leadership and on-field play of Russell Wilson. In a league that spotlights streaky and flashy young players such as the Ravens’ Lamar Jackson and the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes, Wilson has almost always risen to the occasion. While he’s been under center, the Seahawks won Super Bowl XLVIII and have made the playoffs in all but one season. Even with these remarkable team accomplishments, Russell Wilson is consistently undervalued. To this day, he has never received a single NFL MVP vote. Given his statistically mapped prowess and intuitive leadership, this is a complete and utter travesty. He should be lauded as one of the league’s best, and this may be the year that he is rightfully rewarded.

From a statistical point of view, Russell Wilson is having an electric 2020 season. Along with his team’s undefeated start, he is personally ranked first in TDs (19) and second in total passing yards (1,592) among active quarterbacks. Wilson was also September’s NFC offensive player of the month. This kind of dominance has become customary for Wilson. Each season he seems to put up solid stats quietly. He has spent eight seasons ranked in the NFL’s top 10 in terms of passer rating and six seasons in the league’s top 10 QBR ratings. By the numbers, Wilson is one of the best in the business. However, his brilliance is often “lost in the shuffle.” Unfortunately, fans and analysts alike have extremely short attention spans. While Wilson’s numbers have been consistently terrific, there always seems to be physical and statistical anomalies that outshine him. For instance, last year’s MVP Lamar Jackson was just one example, when he made Herculean plays that defied reality week after week. A year prior, Patrick Mahomes threw a whopping 50 touchdowns to gain his MVP award. Both of these players have still maintained a high quality of play, but they have not been able to replicate their mythical seasons. Russell Wilson has not had a superhero-like season,  but this could be his year, as previously alluded to.

Regardless of this possibility, one could argue that a player such as Wilson should warrant changing the MVP criteria. It can normally be assumed that the MVP award will be given to the player who has the best statistical season. If the requirements were broadened to search for the best overall player (regardless of personal numbers), Wilson would have easily won MVP once already. This discussion would not be necessary. He possesses intangibles that make him not only a great quarterback but an outstanding leader. The Seahawks have been able to build a winning culture. This is impossible to maintain without a team leader like Wilson. Russell Wilson may not fit any particular mold for what a quarterback “should” look like or play like. Still, he has unequivocally captured the respect of everyone within the Seattle Seahawks organization. He’s proven that he can carry his team when it matters most. Last season, he led the NFL in game-winning drives, and who can forget when he engineered that magical comeback against Aaron Rodgers’ Green Bay Packers in the 2014 NFC Championship bout? Russell Wilson is vital to the Seahawks , and it is high time that he is given the respect that he deserves.

This NFL season is one like we have never seen before. Playing in a global pandemic, one must learn to expect the unexpected. However, there is still one certainty: Russell Wilson will play at a high level and do everything in his power to win each Sunday. In this age of uncertainty, we should bank on what we already know is true and award the 2020 NFL MVP to its rightful owner — Russell Wilson.


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