Russell Wilson Is Building His Strongest MVP Case Yet

Brent Sobleski@@brentsobleskiNFL AnalystSeptember 21, 2020

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson passes against the New England Patriots during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is cooking with all the ingredients to be the NFL's next MVP. 

Sure, the Kansas City Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes has the hardware and highlight reels to keep himself in this conversation year after year. The Baltimore Ravens' Lamar Jackson is the reigning MVP for a dominant squad. No one can forget Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, though some sort of greatness fatigue sets in regarding his brilliance (and he doesn't play quarterback). 

All of those mentioned deserve attention. But Wilson's performance through two contests makes everything and everyone else pale in comparison.  

Now in his ninth season, Wilson infamously hasn't received a single MVP vote at any point during his career, though he's been worthy of such consideration. 

Why is he the current front-runner? Well, near-perfect performances certainly help. 

Through two weeks of play, Wilson is 52-of-63 passing for 610 yards, nine touchdowns and an interception. The 31-year-old quarterback's lone blemish was a pass that ricocheted off tight end Greg Olsen's hands into the waiting arms of New England Patriots cornerback Devin McCourty, who scampered 43 yards for the pick-six. 

The opening-series mistake during Sunday's 35-30 victory over the Patriots at CenturyLink Field didn't derail Wilson or the Seahawks. The quarterback's response veered into epic status. 

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Consider for a moment that the Patriots allowed a league-low 56.5 completion percentage and 62.8 passer rating last season. New England's secondary features the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year in cornerback Stephon Gilmore. The unit is the closest thing to a true shutdown pass defense. Wilson picked it apart and never shied away from any particular matchup. 

In fact, Wilson feasted by attacking the Patriots' best defender. Gilmore followed DK Metcalf throughout the contest. Wilson targeted Metcalf five times with Gilmore in coverage and completed three passes for 85 yards and a touchdown, per NFL Next Gen Stats

Some will surely read the previous stat and think to themselves, "Doesn't that say more about the wide receiver's ability to get open and make the catch than the quarterback?" Not necessarily. 

On the duo's 54-yard touchdown hookup, the pass had a 22.3 percent completion probability, per Next Gen Stats. Wilson dropped the ball perfectly in the bucket because he's the game's most consistent deep passer. It was the first touchdown Gilmore has allowed as the nearest defender over the last two seasons. 

The Seahawks didn't just find a matchup they liked; Seattle shredded the entire Patriots secondary. According to ESPN's Field Yates, New England allowed only four touchdown receptions to wide receivers all last season. The Seahawks wide receivers found paydirt four times Sunday. 

"It's kind of like Thanksgiving," David Moore told reporters about when Wilson starts to cook. "... You know you're going to get something good."

A week earlier, New England allowed only 191 passing yards to the Miami Dolphins and had three interceptions.

Wilson exposing the Patriots defense is impressive unto itself, but how he did it is even more so. 

The Seahawks signal-caller excelled in every area. It didn't matter if New England played zone or tried to lock receivers up man-to-man. Wilson had an answer every time. 

Wilson threw four passes of 20 or more yards downfield with three completions for 110 yards and three scores, per Pro Football Focus

The Patriots couldn't just sit back and let the quarterback pick them apart so they had to try some pressure packages. Those didn't work, either. As PFF noted, Wilson finished 5-of-8 passing for 140 yards and four touchdowns when facing pressure. 

Even when a defense thinks it has him hemmed in, Wilson finds ways to extend plays and gain crucial yards on the ground. He's averaging 8.5 yards per carry on eight attempts this season. 

The thought of Wilson being even better later in the season is a scary proposition but could come true.

The Seahawks are still awaiting the NFL's decision regarding Josh Gordon's potential reinstatement. Also, Phillip Dorsett II has yet to debut for Seattle due to a foot injury. He could return soon. With an already-potent passing attack that could have reinforcements on their way and a commitment to a physical rushing attack, Wilson has all of the tools at his disposal to continue his stellar play. 

Since the campaign is still in its infancy stage, plenty of competition should arise to challenge Wilson's supremacy. Beyond those already mentioned, the Arizona Cardinals' Kyler Murray and Buffalo Bills' Josh Allen have been spectacular. 

Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

Murray has 674 total yards and five total touchdowns in Cardinals victories against the San Francisco 49ers and Washington Football Team. The second-year signal-caller became the first quarterback in NFL history to record 150 or more rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns in the first two games of a season, per Mark Dalton of the Cardinals official site. 

Allen, meanwhile, is starting to realize his prodigious potential. The Bills quarterback struggled last season as a passer. He finished in the bottom half of the league in every major statistical category. That's no longer the case. Allen lit up both the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins in back-to-back contests. He became only the fourth quarterback in NFL history—along with Mahomes, Tom Brady and Peyton Manningto post 700-plus passing yards, six touchdown tosses and zero interceptions in the first two weeks of the season, per Pro Football Reference

But Wilson's level of play regarding every aspect of quarterback performance dwarfs every other candidate's. Seattle's leader is unlimited in what he can do this season, and he certainly won't be overlooked any longer as the game's best, as the opposing coach mentioned during preparation. 

"Honestly, I think he's in a way maybe underrated by the media or the fans, I don't know," Patriots head coach Bill Belichick told reporters on Thursday. "I don't really see anybody better than this player."

He's right, y'know. 

     

Brent Sobleski covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @brentsobleski.