The Seattle Seahawks proved to the rest of the NFL once again that even without star players like cornerback Richard Sherman, safety Kam Chancellor, and defensive end Cliff Avril, this team is capable of beating anyone. A squad that was once dominated by its star-studded defense, leading them to back-to-back Super Bowl appearances in 2013 and 2014, now has a new face behind its success. Russell Wilson has ascended in 2017 from an above average starter in the league to an elite do-it-all quarterback that has led his injury-riddled team to an 8-4 record, which is currently good enough for the first NFC Wild Card playoff spot and only one game behind the NFC West division leader Los Angeles Rams.
Most experts and fans counted the Seahawks out of the contention for a Super Bowl run and possibly even wrote them off from a playoff spot after their defensive stars went down for the season. While the Seahawks were still expected to compete in most games, no one could have seen this resurgence coming from a franchise who saw three former All-Pro players get hurt. The Seattle defense was still expected to be able to do okay with safety Earl Thomas, linebacker Bobby Wagner, and their explosive pass rushers still on the field. But the worry surrounded how the offense would respond, with a lot of skepticism around their consistency. The next man up had to be on offense, as the team knows it must be able to score with their defense not at its best form for the rest of 2017.
Wilson has been outstanding since that ugly Thursday night win in Arizona three weeks ago, with memorable performances during a three game stretch in which the Seahawks went 2-1 in those games. Wilson started this stretch with a heartbreaking defeat at home to the Atlanta Falcons, but still threw for 258 yards with two touchdown passes and adding another 86 yards rushing along with a rushing touchdown. He was not at fault for the loss considering head coach Pete Carroll made a very questionable fake field goal call that blew up in his face and kicker Blair Walsh missed the potential game-winning field goal short in the closing seconds. The following week, Wilson torched the San Francisco 49ers on the road with three touchdowns, two through the air and one on the ground en route to a dominate win. Then in a prime-time Sunday night match-up last weekend against the NFC’s best record coming into the game the Philadelphia Eagles, Wilson outplayed many experts’ NFL MVP favorite in Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz with 227 yards and three touchdowns in a flawless effort to get Seattle their most impressive win of the season over the Eagles at home. Wilson turned many heads with his ability to escape the pass rush to extend plays with his feet to make incredible video game-like throws down the field.
Wilson has been enjoying the 2017 season, on his way to career-high numbers in most passing statistics. He has thrown for 3,256 yards with 26 touchdown passes along with 432 yards on the ground and three scores. The Seahawks have finally figured out that their best option to improve their very inconsistent offense over the past couple of seasons was to give Wilson the opportunity to spread the field and air the ball out. Wilson has found a new favorite red-zone target in tight end Jimmy Graham, with the two connecting for nine touchdowns over the past eight games. He continues to find his favorite possession receiver Doug Baldwin for big plays, has been a big part in the emergence of wide receiver Paul Richardson, and improving his connection with wide receiver Tyler Lockett who was coming off a bad leg injury in 2016. The addition of left tackle Duane Brown via trade has only helped Wilson improve his mobility and become even more deadly when escaping the pocket away from the rush. The mobility Wilson has to accompany his arm strength and accuracy is rare to find not only in the NFL but any level of football.
With the numbers Wilson has put up combined with his leadership to carry one of the more injured teams in the league to an 8-4 record, there’s no doubt Wilson should be among the top NFL MVP candidates with Wentz and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Wilson has plenty of big games left ahead of him on the Seahawks schedule too, with a visit to the number one defense in the NFL this week against the Jacksonville Jaguars, then a meeting back at home the following week against the Rams, which could determine who wins the NFC West. A good performance and staying competitive in both games should solidify him as a candidate, if not make him the favorite. If Wilson were to take home the 2017 NFL MVP award, he would be the first Seahawks’ player to do so since former running back Shaun Alexander won the award back in 2007. The Seahawks will need him to continue to play at this elite level if they want any shot at winning the NFC West and making a Super Bowl run.
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