I kept waiting for the “MVP” chants.
On Thursday night at CenturyLink Field, Russell Wilson put on perhaps the greatest quarterbacking display I’ve ever had the pleasure to witness.
One moment the Seattle Seahawks’ QB was sprinting to his left, contorting his body to make a cross-body throw, and putting the ball in the only place where Tyler Lockett could possibly catch it in the back corner of the end zone for a spectacular double toe-tap touchdown.
The next moment he was dropping a perfect pass into the arms of Will Dissly, who was running at full speed directly away from him, and just over the outstreched arms of a defender who was all over Dissly’s back.
And for his final act Wilson, on fourth-and-goal with the game in the balance, eluded the rush, and just as he was about to run for it he spied a wide open Chris Carson out of the corner of his eye and flipped it to him for what proved to be the game-winning touchdown in the Seahawks’ 30-29 victory over the Los Angeles Rams.
Watching from the press box, all I could do was shake my head in wonder. Even the other players on the field were in awe.
“Russell Wilson’s playing out of his mind right now,” Rams safety Eric Weddle marveled.
“He’s been playing at an MVP level all season, man,” Seahawks left tackle Duane Brown agreed. “He’s just amazing, man, just amazing.”
Which begs the question: Why doesn’t Wilson get more MVP consideration?
Wilson has never been a player talked about seriously in NFL MVP discussions. Did you know Wilson has never received an MVP vote in his seven completed seasons? Derek Carr, Carson Palmer and Tony Romo have all had check marks in their boxes on the ballot during that time. Heck, even Wilson’s linebacker teammate Bobby Wagner has a vote to his name.
Six of the seven MVPs during Wilson’s career have been quarterbacks — Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton, Matt Ryan, Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes. Wilson has a higher career quarterback rating than all of them except Rodgers and Mahomes, and Mahomes’ career is so short he doesn’t even qualify in career categories. Wilson’s passer rating was more than 10 points higher than Newton in 2015, he threw more touchdown passes than Brady in 2017, and he had a better touchdown/interception ratio than Mahomes last season. Yet Wilson hasn’t had a sniff.
Why is that?
Following Thursday’s spectacular four-touchdown, no-interception outing Wilson has completed 73.1 percent of his passes this season — a number that would be the second best in NFL history — averages 9.0 yards per attempt and had 12 touchdowns versus no interceptions. The result is an insane 126.3 passer rating. This is despite playing behind an offensive line that’s struggled in pass protection, causing Wilson to get sacked 13 times and forcing him to scramble on countless other occasions. That he’s compiled these numbers while doing much of his work on the run is unfathomable.
Yet Wilson still remains on the periphery of MVP talk. NFL.com made a list of the leading MVP candidates through the first quarter of the season. Wilson was ranked eighth. Khalil Mack (4.5 sacks), Alvin Kamara (280 rushing yards), and Carson Wentz (95.3 passer rating) were all higher on the list.
This must change.
The Seahawks were supposed to collapse last season. The Legion of Boom defense that gave the franchise its identity during its Super Bowl runs in 2013 and 2014 was dismantled. Proclamations were made across the country about Seattle’s impending tumble off the cliff. But the Seahawks compiled another 10-win season with a playoff appearance, and after Thursday’s victory Seattle is 4-1 and among the NFC’s leaders.
The reason for this is because Wilson has been MVP good.
“It just takes a really long time to command this game,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll explained about Wilson’s continual progression. “Guys can go out, look really good and do stuff, but to own the game it takes a long time. We’ve all been watching it happen, he’s been great ever since he got here, but he’s been the best he’s ever been through the culmination of all the years and experience. He made a number of checks tonight in situations and got his first downs that he had to have the guts to go ahead and do that and change the call to fix things, and he did. He has as much freedom as he’s ever had because he’s the best he’s ever been for us.”
After Thursday’s game Wilson was asked about his lack of consideration for MVP, and in his usual way he deflected personal praise.
“I just try to be consistent,” Wilson answered. “Bobby and I always have a saying: ‘Don’t get bored. Consistency.’ That’s my thing. Stay consistent, stay the course, let wins speak for themselves. It’s not about me, it’s about winning.”
And I have a hard time believing any player is helping his team win more right now than Wilson.
So when the Seahawks return home on Oct. 20 to host the Baltimore Ravens, I expect to hear some “MVP” chants from the CenturyLink Field crowd when Wilson conjures up more quarterbacking ridiculousness. And when it happens, I’ll be right there leading those chants.
Follow Nick Patterson on Twitter at @NickHPatterson.