Seahawks' Russell Wilson deserves serious consideration for 2017 NFL MVP
Seahawks quarterback is single-handedly winning games
Russell Wilson is doing it again.
He is putting together another heroic season, after the Seattle Seahawks got off to another wobbly start and found their season hanging in the balance. Wilson is making another late push for what should be very serious consideration for the MVP award. He is single-handedly winning games and performing like a one-man army many weeks, and should he vanquish a Murder's Row type schedule in December – which has always been his best month, as, alas, he is nothing if not clutch – and continues to build upon Sunday night's defeat of Philadelphia, then he just might be in line to get his hands on that hardware.
As for right now, I will spot you 40-year-old quarterbacking freak-of-nature Tom Brady as the front-runner, and I could understand going with second-year phenom Carson Wentz as well. Could make a strong case for either as the leader. But after that, you can't convince me anyone else is more worthy than Wilson, and history would tell us that Wilson is the strongest of finishers, who gets better as the games carry more import. We'll see if Wentz suffers any sort of sophomore slump with the Eagles pushing for the one seed (he had a short college resume and this is unchartered territory for him), and we'll see if Brady hits any sort of wall and if in fact he is human and not a superior football cyborg of some sort. But I certainly wouldn't bet against Wilson at this point.
Let's be real about the Seahawks; this is a flawed team utterly reliant upon Wilson to do extraordinary things more often than not. They have had no running game at all this season, funneling through backs due to injury and ineffectiveness. They rank 22nd in yards per carry (3.9) and second-to-last with just four rushing touchdowns. But that doesn't tell the real story. Wilson leads the Seahawks with 71 carries. And he leads them with 432 rushing yards (more than double the next best ball carrier, Chris Carson, who has been out injured since Week 4). And he has three of their four rushing TDs. So, Seattle's running backs have amassed just 801 yards on 245 carries – paltry average of 3.3 yards per carry – with one rushing TD.
Want to see something truly astonishing – especially considering this team is 8-4 (thanks to Wilson) and still in contention for the NFC West title? Here is the Seahawks' top gaining running back for each of the last eight games since Carson was injured, starting with Week 13:
Mike Davis: 16 carries for 64 yards
Eddie Lacy: 17 carries for 46 yards
J.D. McKissic: 7 carries for 30 yards
Thomas Rawls: 10 carries for 27 yards
Rawls: 9 carries for 39 yards
McKissic: 4 carries for 6 yards
Rawls: 11 carries for 36 yards
Rawls – 8 carries for 20 yards
So in that span, Wilson's "run game" has amounted to no back even reaching 70 yards and only one back topping 50 yards (and that just occurred Sunday night) and with the Seahawks' overall leading rushing running back in those eight games accounting for 82 rushes for 268 yards total – 3.3 per carry - and no running back has a rushing TD since McKissic scored in Week 4 (Oct. 1). And yet Seattle is very much alive for postseason glory. Because of Wilson, who, by the way, has the second-most rushing attempts among all quarterbacks (Cam Newton is tops with 89) and who is averaging a gaudy 6.08 yards per attempt and whose 21 carries of 10 yards or more leads all quarterbacks by a mile (Dak Prescott is second with 16).
Now, as for that offensive line, well, it's been a massive problem for years, leading to Wilson running for his life, making plays repeatedly under duress and forced to create something out of nothing far too frequently. It reached the point where they gave up a boatload of picks to land left tackle Duane Brown at the trade deadline, and he has certainly helped a unit that has nowhere to go but up … but it's still a group that's sorely lacking, overall. And as for the defense, it's been shredded by injuries to stalwarts like Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor and it's hardly as bulletproof and menacing as once before. They remain a top seven team against the run, but have slipped to 10th in yards allowed per game, and eighth in offensive points allowed. It's still been very good, but not to the standards of old, and most shockingly the Seahawks have blown fourth-quarter leads on defense and allowed 33 points or more three times this season, including twice at home. That was once unthinkable.
It's been up to Wilson to save them time and time again, and more often than not he is somehow up to the task. And he continues to be at his best at money time, in the fourth quarter, with the game on the line. He leads the NFL, by far, with a 134.1 rating in that category (Drew Brees is next at 120). Wilson has the second most completions in that quarter for the second-best completion percentage (70.2 percent, behind Brees), with an incomparable differential of 15 passing touchdowns to one interception (six more TDs than anyone else), coupled with the best fourth-quarter interception percentage in the NFL.
That goes a long way to explaining Seattle's plus-58 fourth-quarter scoring differential, second-best in football. On the season, Wilson has 26 TDs passes to eight picks (only Wentz and Brady have been better), and he ranks sixth in passing yards and in passes of 20 yards or more. So he is making big plays with his legs and arm like no one else, doing more in the late stages of games and overcoming fatal flaws in the run game. He's saved Jimmy Graham's season (career?), helping the tight end finally recover his red-zone form, and I dare Wilson's best is yet to come.
Here's what the All-Pro has done in 23 career December games: 432-669 (65 percent), 8.22 yards per attempt, 46-15 TD/INT, 103.7 rating. Should he play to that level again, against this gauntlet – at Jacksonville, Rams, at Cowboys, Cardinals, and lead Seattle back to a division title and at least one home playoff game, then may have found a match for the timeless Brady and the wunderkind Wentz in the MVP conversation.
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