Barring something unbelievable in Weeks 16 and 17, Russell Wilson won’t win the MVP this season. That’s because it’s not actually the award for the most valuable player, and maybe it never was.
SB Nation has done a very fine job of tracking the MVP race throughout the season, and it demonstrates what the award has really turned into. It’s linked, but is too good not to include hard-hitting subtitles such as these:
Lamar Jackson has been freaky, spectacular, entertaining, and if you had to build a list he’d probably be around the 5th best running back in the NFL.
But something happened early this week when the Pro Bowl rosters were released, and it highlighted something that very few people had been talking about until then.
For the most part, just Colin Cowherd.
Russell Wilson, not Lamar Jackson is the MVP of the NFL. @ColinCowherd explains why: pic.twitter.com/mVMuccmZ6L— Herd w/Colin Cowherd (@TheHerd) December 18, 2019
This is by no means the first time Cowherd has said anything like this. He’s liked Wilson more than most, and he’s liked him for a long time.
The results were astonishing - an NFL record 12 Pro Bowl nominations for the Baltimore Ravens.
How many for the 11-3 Seahawks? One less than last year, when they finished the season 10-6. This time it’s just Russ and Bobby Wagner.
And so it was early this week that, ever so slowly, the argument started to resurface that maybe MVP could mean what it stands for.
Lamar Jackson is the overwhelming favorite for MVP, but he shouldn't be.— PFF (@PFF) December 12, 2019
Because how, on a team where over one half of the players are among the best at their position, is Lamar Jackson the most valuable player in the league? You would have to maintain the argument that if you took Lamar Jackson out of the game and replaced him with somebody average, like a [insert quarterback besides Mitchell Trubisky], that the Ravens would suddenly be a bad team. And you would have to maintain that argument with a straight face.
It doesn’t seem like both things should be able to be true at the same time. Either Lamar Jackson is more valuable than anyone else in the NFL, or it is true that half of the Baltimore roster is ridiculously good. But if the latter is true, than it’s hard for Jackson to even add as much value as a similarly good player with a weaker roster.
So do the simmering voices on Internet land have a point? Should Russell be more considered, even having “cooled off” down the stretch? Because six wins out of seven games is apparently cooling off.
They do have a point, if most valuable is the actual conversation.
If it were most impressive, than Wilson would never be a top-5 talent. Not statistically.
Nor would he necessarily win if it were most talented, for then we’d have to let Michael Thomas or Christian McCaffrey have some words.
It’s also not most flashy, most new, most yards, most arm strength, most charming post-game smile or most anything else that does not equate to the single most needed and value-adding piece on a team’s roster.
It’s because Russell Wilson has been so good behind a line that has been so bad, throwing to receivers who have been so injured, led by an offensive scheme that is so...infuriating, that Wilson should be considered the most valuable.
In 2017 Russell Wilson was the most pressured QB in the NFL, seeing pressure on 41.4% of his dropbacks.— John P. Gilbert (@JohnPGilbertNFL) November 25, 2019
So, the team fired the o-line coach, overhauled the scheme and signed free agents to start so that Russell Wilson could be pressured on only 41.4% of his 2019 dropbacks.
Wilson has the third most touchdown passes this year. He’s in third place for fewest interceptions with five. He’s top-five in quarterback rating, completion percentage, and yards per attempt. He’s doing all of that while being sacked 42 times this year, behind only three quarterbacks of teams with losing records.
All of that comes after losing Doug Baldwin to free agency. After losing Will Dissly (again) to season-ending injury. After essentially losing a healthy Tyler Lockett for three games. With a swath of running backs determined not to march into the red zone without coughing up the football.
Chris Carson now has 8 fumbles on the season. That is the most by a non-QB in over a decade as Adrian Peterson has nine fumbles in 2008.— Anthony Staggs (@staggsNFL) November 24, 2019
Not a single game has come easy for these Seahawks. They’re 11-3, and it makes no sense. Wilson may not have one every one of those 11 games on his own, but he’s cost the team none. It’s been at least three years where the question “could another quarterback besides Russell Wilson survive behind this offensive line” has not come with a confident answer.
But he won’t win.
He won’t win because he has thrown five touchdowns only once. He won’t win because he’s not trying to run for 80-100 yards anymore. Wilson just set the record for most wins in the first eight seasons, but Jackson just set the record for most QB rushing yards.
If the conversation was about value, I think a better argument would actually be Wilson or McCaffrey, the only RB in the league who doesn’t even need a quarterback on the field to hit consistent first downs.
But the MVP is currently reserved for the highlight-reel quarterback. To that end, be it statting out or post-game interviews, Russell will likely continue to come in second.
If it results in a decade of playoff appearances, I’m okay with that.