Without Russell Wilson, what are the Seattle Seahawks?
It is far from certain at this point that the Seattle Seahawks will make the playoffs this season. After upsetting the Eagles Sunday night, their next three games are against Jacksonville, Los Angeles, and Dallas with Ezekiel Elliot. None of those games are gimmes, and the Seahawks may need all of them because they would lose a tiebreaker with Atlanta.
Still, the fact that the Seahawks are in this position at all makes a strong case for the MVP candidacy of Russell Wilson. If he can somehow get them through this month with a playoff berth, he should win the award. There are certainly other quarterbacks whose teams would be sunk without them. Green Bay, for example, has certainly proven Aaron Rodgers’ worth by their struggles without him. Yet no other offense is so completely dependent on one player as the Seahawks are on Wilson.
So far this season, Seattle has accounted for a total of 4,485 yards of total offense. 3,684 of that (or 82%) is directly tied to Wilson. He has more than twice as many yards rushing as the second-place rusher on the team. Furthermore, he has three of the team’s four rushing touchdowns on the season, in addition to 26 touchdown passes. Wilson has done this despite knowing that every time he drops back to pass he is likely to be running for his life. He has been sacked 28 times this season. Only Cam Newton and Alex Smith have been sacked more time, and they are on teams with a chance to go to the playoffs. And Wilson would certainly have been sacked twice as much if not for his surreal ability to evade the pass rush and still create positive plays. The Seahawks pass protection has frequently been MIA, making Wilson’s escapability more of a necessity than a luxury.
This is not to say that Wilson is the best player in the league, or even the best quarterback. There’s still that Brady guy, and there are, in fact, 10 quarterbacks with higher passer ratings than Wilson. But here’s a way to measure what Wilson means to his team. It’s very easy, in fact, because this season Wilson has had six great games, with passer ratings above 107, and six lousy games, with passer ratings below 87. Nothing in between. In the six great games, the Seahawks are 5–1 and have averaged 31 points per game. The loss came despite Wilson throwing for four touchdowns; the defense allowed the Titans to gain over four hundred yards. In the other six, they are 3–3 and have averaged 18 points per game. Two of the wins were against the 49ers. The other came when the defense held the Rams to 10 points.
In other words, the only way this team wins is if Wilson has a great day, the defense plays great, or the opponent is lousy. But if Russell Wilson is clicking, this team will be a tough out come playoff time, if they get that far. They are tied for sixth in the league in points allowed and still looked like an elite defense against Carson Wentz, even with half their secondary injured. They will likely be hindered by their low seed, but the NFC playoff field looks to have at least three quarterbacks who have never been there before, which gives the veteran Seahawks an edge.
Wilson may not have a conventional case for MVP. His team will not be a number one seed, he won’t set any records, and he spends as much time running for his life as he does dissecting defenses. But try to imagine another quarterback that would be 8–4 with this line and these running backs. If the Seahawks make it to the playoffs, it will be because of Russell Wilson and only Russell Wilson. That is the definition of an MVP.