When Russell Wilson was drafted in 2011 as the third round draft pick for the Seattle Seahawks, not many people expected him to be where he is at now. He was an undersized quarterback who only played for one season for Wisconsin, though he took the Badgers to the Rose Bowl that season. Now, at the quarter mark of his third NFL season, he is on the shortlist in the MVP race.
Wilson’s numbers are not flashy. They never have been as far as stat sheets are concerned. He does have one gaudy record that cannot be ignored though. His win-loss record is phenomenal. He won 11 games his first season, 13 games his second season, and has won 3 already in the 2014 season. That equates to a 28-9 overall record. In his career, he has thrown 60 touchdowns to just 20 interceptions. He has also racked up 1237 yards rushing and six TDs. Wilson also helped bring the Seahawks their first championship in franchise history in just his second season.
The thing that makes Wilson so successful on the field is his decision making. He is not a running quarterback, and he will be the first to tell you that. Wilson is so dangerous on the field because whenever he has to scramble out of the pocket, he is not looking to run. He sees and feels the pocket collapse around him so he scrambles to extend the play, but he is always looking down for the open receiver.
Another key to Wilson being on the shortlist for the MVP race is his undeniable competitiveness. Two weeks ago, when the Denver Broncos came to Seattle, on the final drive, Peyton Manning took the Broncos offense down the field to score a touchdown, putting them down by two points. When asked in a post-game conference Wilson said “…Of course I want to win in regulation, but overtime is so much fun. I live for those moments.”
Wilson got his wish, as the Broncos scored the two point conversion to tie the game with the Seahawks and send it into overtime. The Seahawks got the ball first, and what Wilson did with it is nothing short of amazing. Wilson took the Seahawks 80 yards. Wilson scrambled twice on third down to keep the drive alive. He passed to Doug Baldwin to gain 20 yards. Marshawn Lynch dove over the goal line for the game-winning score, never letting Manning on the field.
Wilson is one of the lowest paid starting quarterbacks in the game right now. He is in his third year of his four year rookie contract. The new rules that were agreed upon in the last collective bargaining agreement prevent him from renegotiating his contract with the Seahawks until after his third year. With playoff wins in both his first two seasons, a Superbowl championship, and more TD passes his first two years than any passer in league history, it would be hard to imagine he does not have a big NFL pay day coming very soon.
Right now, the list of MVP candidates could be limited to the San Diego Chargers quarterback, Phillip Rivers, who has his team off to a 4-1 start, including a win over Wilson and the Seahawks. Houston Texans linebacker J.J. Watt, who is dominating offensive lines and has three touchdowns on defense this year, could also be on that list. Peyton Manning is always in the MVP race, and the fact that he just threw TD pass number 503 last week helps. Wilson has to be in that group with an overtime win over Manning, only one interception all season, and the record breaking performance he turned in Monday night. He is playing some great football. Wilson is definitely on the shortlist in the MVP race. This Sunday, he takes on the Dallas Cowboys at home, where he has only lost one game in his entire career, so he has a good chance of improving his case.
Commentary by Andy Lapic