Russell Wilson has famously never received an MVP vote, even though he’s been one of the best in the game since his rookie season in 2012. There’s always been a reason for that. There are two ways to take that sort of sentiment: there’s the magnanimous side of there simply being a lot of other, worthy candidates, and not everyone gets a trophy in the real world. And, there’s the bitter Seahawks fan in me, who can’t help but see it as my guy getting slighted.
Et tu, Trey Wingo?! I actually think he’s one of the more reasonable ESPN personalities, but in this week’s Slow News Day, he was all over Aaron Rodgers as MVP. Magnanimous Steven can hear that and say, “Sure, he’s having a fantastic season! Over 1,200 yards in four games, with 13 touchdowns and 0 interceptions; what’s not to love?” But, all Bitter Steven hears is Trey’s rationale: look at Rodgers’ weapons and compare them to Wilson’s.
Okay. First of all, we’re not ACTUALLY going to get bent out of shape about the MVP race five weeks into the season. So, let’s all take a deep breath and relax. I COULD tell you that – while Rodgers’ numbers are great – his numbers aren’t quite up to Wilson’s over 1,500 yards and 19 touchdowns in five games. If we’re talking weapons, yeah, D.K. Metcalf looks like a monster, and we’ve been singing Tyler Lockett’s praises since he joined the league. But, Rodgers still has Aaron Jones, one of the best dual-threat running backs in all of football (third in rushing yards per game), with a combined 6 touchdowns rushing and receiving. And, Davante Adams has only missed a couple games due to injury. On top of which, let’s face it, the Packers haven’t had to play very many elite teams. On top of the Vikings and Falcons (who we also beat), they’ve gone up against a one-win Lions team and a Saints team that looks like it’s on its last legs with Drew Brees. Also, just because you don’t know who some of these Packers are at tight end and behind Adams in the receivers room, doesn’t mean they’re not just as good as some of these other Seahawks; that Robert Tonyan (with five TDs so far) could be the next Greg Olsen for all we know!
The point isn’t the weapons, the point is the EXCUSE. The title of the post says there will always be a reason to not vote for Russell Wilson for MVP, but actually I should’ve put “excuse”, because that’s what we’re talking about. Everyone seemingly ALWAYS has a reason to poo-poo what Wilson is doing. Early in his career, he wasn’t an MVP because we had Marshawn Lynch, and that #1 defense, and a conservative play-calling scheme. Forget about Wilson’s efficiency – doing more with fewer attempts – or his touchdown numbers; it was always about the team around him. Then, as Lynch left, and the defense crumbled, this team clearly became all about Russell Wilson; he was dragging this roster bereft of talent into the playoffs kicking and screaming (he’s STILL never had a losing record, in spite of some REALLY lean rosters that would’ve been contending for a top draft pick had Wilson not been around). If you think about Most Valuable Player, you think about the guy who adds the most value to his team (obviously, this being football, there is that pesky “team” aspect that constantly skews things). Take Russell Wilson off of any of these Seahawks teams from 2016 to 2020, and you’re looking at one of the very worst teams in all of football. Can you imagine what Nick Foles or Ryan Fitzpatrick (the dictionary definition of Replacement Level Quarterbacks) would’ve done with these guys?
But, no one who votes actually sees the game in these hypotheticals. The MVP almost always goes to the best quarterback on the best team, period. If you take Lamar Jackson off of that Ravens team last year and put a replacement level guy in there, they probably still win 9-10 games, because the rest of the roster was so good. But, Jackson won the MVP because the Ravens went 14-2 and he was a hot, new story.
Story plays into it too. Is it a guy who’s never won it before? Well that’s interesting! (hence why momentum for Wilson is so high this year) Is it a guy doing something extra-special? (Patrick Mahomes as a 23-year old throwing for 50 touchdowns in his first full season as a starter explains what happened in 2018)
In a sense, blaming Wilson for the weapons around him is idiotic, because you NEED the team to win a lot of games, and you need SOMEONE to catch all those balls! But, it cuts both ways, because you watch the Seahawks and you have to see how bad this defense has been.
Remember a year ago, when the Seahawks played in 14 games decided by one score (including playoffs) and went 11-3 in those games? Remember how unsustainable that was, and how likely it was that the 2020 Seahawks would come crashing down to Earth? Already, four of our five games have been decided by one score, and we’re 4-0 in those games (including that near-miraculous come-from-behind performance against the Vikings last week). This is no longer a fluke. This is Russell Wilson. He is your MVP for 2020. You can make all the arguments you want – because otherwise, what else are you going to talk about on the various football chat shows; we all have content to produce – but in the end, when the Seahawks have the best record in football, and Russell Wilson has the best stats of all the quarterbacks, you’re going to have to make him unanimous.
And yet, even if all of that comes to pass, I bet there are still a few a-holes out there who will throw a bone to the Aaron Rodgers’ of the league. Because they just can’t live in a world where a 5’11 quarterback is the best player alive.