5 Throws Highlight Why Seahawks QB Russell Wilson Stands as MVP Favorite
During his first seven NFL seasons, Seahawks star quarterback Russell Wilson emerged as one of the NFC’s best signal callers, earning Pro Bowl nods five times and leading his team to six playoff appearances.
But somehow, despite incredible production and efficiency as both a passer and a runner throughout his career, Wilson has never received a single vote for NFL MVP. Even when he finished 2015 with an absurd stretch throwing 24 touchdowns and just one interception in Seattle’s final seven games, he didn’t receive any legitimate consideration.
Now in his eighth year under center for the Seahawks, Wilson’s excellence can no longer be ignored. Whether combing through statistics or watching film, he’s playing in a different stratosphere right now and a strong argument can be made in his favor as the NFL’s best at the premier position.
Through five games, Wilson has thrown for 1,409 yards and an NFL-best 12 touchdowns while completing 73.1 percent of his pass attempts and posting a 126.3 passer rating. He also hasn’t thrown an interception, making him the first player in the Super Bowl era to achieve such numbers during his team’s first five games.
“It’s just evolution." Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said regarding Wilson's continued improvement. "It’s evolution and this extraordinary consistency and his commitment to stay with it and keep growing and keep pushing. He’s got the curiosity of a great player that he’s always looking to figure out what he could be better at how he could do something and help somebody else get in sync with him so they can work together more efficiently."
If you’re still doubting Wilson’s viability as an MVP favorite, you don’t have to look far for evidence. On Thursday night against the Rams, he put on a clinic against the Rams, completing 17 of 23 passes for 268 yards and four touchdowns.
Let’s take a look back at five impressive throws made by Wilson in Thursday’s victory that solidify his MVP candidacy.
Play No. 1: 40-yard touchdown pass to DK Metcalf
This shouldn’t be news, but Wilson executes the deep ball as well as any quarterback in today’s NFL. He doesn’t just possess one of the sport’s strongest throwing arms – he displays consistent touch on downfield passes and leads his receivers to near-perfection. The degree of difficulty for this particular throw on a post route to Metcalf isn’t on the same level as other throws Wilson made during this game, but his ability to immediately to put the ball right on his receiver’s hands 40 yards downfield is impeccable. By being a magician with the deep ball on a weekly basis, he’s currently posting a career-best nine yards per pass attempt.
Play No. 2: 38-yard completion to Will Dissly
Wilson’s mobility remains one of the biggest reasons opponents hate game-planning for the Seahawks. Coverage can be on point initially, but once he extends the play with his legs, it’s much tougher to prevent receivers from getting open. On this play, Wilson wanted to hit Dissly earlier, but the Rams had two defenders in coverage ready to close in. Sensing pressure, he moved the pocket to his right and a defender got caught looking in the backfield, allowing Dissly to come open down the seam. Just flicking his right while scrambling to his right, Wilson made this completion look easy as he put it right on the tight ends hands.
Play No. 3: 17-Yard “Pop” pass to Rashaad Penny
Since there were so many signature plays for both teams on Thursday night, this outstanding completion quickly faded from memory. But in terms of difficulty, this might’ve been the second toughest completion Wilson made all night. With the pocket collapsing, the veteran quarterback bailed to his right and had linebacker Corey Littleton bearing down on him. Emulating Tim Tebow when he starred at Florida, Wilson threw the ball downfield in mid-air on a “pop” pass to Penny, who battled through contact from cornerback Marcus Peters to make the catch. Without having a foot on the ground, Wilson displayed enough arm talent to still get the ball downfield with velocity and accuracy.
Play No. 4: 17-Yard completion to Tyler Lockett
Wilson isn’t the only mobile quarterback in the NFL, but his ability to elude pressure goes beyond his athleticism. He’s one of the rare signal callers who combines uncanny scrambling ability with a sixth sense when it comes to pocket awareness. It’s as if he has eyes on the back of his head, which must be extremely maddening for pass rushers. There’s not a play that better illustrates these frustrations more effectively than this completion to Lockett, as Wilson initially rolled out to his right on a boot leg. Then, he tucked and scrambled to his left with his eyes still downfield looking for a receiver. Dante Fowler looks to have him corralled for a sack, but like clockwork, Wilson slipped out of his tackle attempt and then darted back to his right. Lockett worked his way back outside and Wilson connected with him for a 17-yard gain and a first down. These kinds of completions are simply demoralizing for a defense and Wilson has turned such improvisation into an art form.
Play No. 5: 13-Yard touchdown pass to Lockett
In 25 years of watching football, this touchdown strike may be the best pitch-and-catch effort I’ve seen at any level. After debating whether the throw or catch was better, I came to the realization that few quarterbacks from any era could’ve completed this pass. After faking to Chris Carson, Wilson dropped back in the pocket and scanned the field with no receivers open. As pressure started to bear down on him off the right side, he sprinted to his left and it looked like he’d be forced to throw the first down pass out of bounds. But while throwing across his body without setting his feet, he somehow made a perfect throw to the back of the end zone on the left side, dropping a dime in the bucket to Lockett. Throwing on the run rolling out the right is challenging enough, but how many quarterbacks in the history of the game could throw such a precise downfield pass moving to their left and throwing across their body? It can likely be counted on one hand.