By Brady Henderson
ESPN.com columnist Jeffri Chadiha no longer considers Russell Wilson a game manager, the term he used to describe Seattle’s quarterback during a conversation with 710 ESPN Seattle’s “Brock and Danny” back in June.
While he’s seen more improvement from Wilson than the other NFL’s other star quarterbacks who are in their second seasons as starters, Chadiha hasn’t come around on Wilson so far as to consider him an MVP candidate.
Russell Wilson has garnered some MVP consideration for the job he’s done leading the Seahawks to an NFL-best 10-1 record. (AP)
“You look what’s happened with RG3 in Washington, Colin Kaepernick in San Francisco, it certainly is an easy cliff to fall off of for some of those guys, but he’s managed to stay not only true to himself and his game, but he’s also managed to take his game to another level,” Chadiha told “Brock and Danny” on Thursday. “Again, I was wrong about him. He’s shown to be more than a game manager, but to say he’s an MVP right now, I can’t go there.”
It’s a discussion that only figures to pick up steam with Wilson and the Seahawks owning the NFL’s best record and seemingly poised for a Super Bowl run. Wilson has thrown 19 touchdowns to six interceptions, he’s completing 64 percent of his passes and has a 105.1 passer rating that is fifth best in the NFL.
That should be good enough to land Wilson on the shortlist of MVP candidates, though he’ll face stiff competition. Quarterbacks Peyton Manning (especially), Drew Brees and Matthew Stafford are all putting up tremendous numbers for division-leading teams, and there’s a case to be made that Wilson isn’t even the MVP of his own team.
Chadiha said his vote would go to running back Marshawn Lynch if he was choosing between the two Seahawks. His reasoning is based on how much of Seattle’s offense goes through Lynch, who’s second in the NFL in rushing with 925 yards and is tied for the league lead in rushing touchdowns with nine. Nearly 56 percent of Seattle’s offensive plays have been rushes (though that total includes designed passing plays that resulted in Wilson scrambles).
While those who believe Wilson should be in the MVP discussion would note that he’s played behind a makeshift offensive line for much of the season, Chadiha thinks Lynch’s contributions lessen Wilson’s MVP credentials.
“I don’t think he’ll ever get that kind of respect or that kind of adulation until he’s doing it the way Tom Brady is or Drew Brees is or Peyton Manning is or even Aaron Rodgers has done it in recent seasons where you clearly don’t have a dominant running back on your team and the offense is clearly built around your skillset,” Chadiha said.
“That’s not a knock on him; you’ve got to play the way they want you to play. That’s not just my opinion, either. That’s other coaches I’ve talked to around the league, quarterbacks coaches, who have said he’s a really talented kid, but when you have a great defense and you have great special teams and you have a great running back, you can succeed a lot easier, you can call plays differently. He hasn’t had to face that kind of pressure that those guys have faced.”
While Chadiha may not be buying Wilson’s MVP candidacy, he lauded the quarterback for what he did to avoid the second-year struggles that some of his peers have fallen victim to.
“I think he’s just shown that he’s ready to handle that challenge that comes with being a star in this league. I remember talking to Warren Moon … earlier this year for a story that involves Russell and he talked about how he had told Russell, ‘Look, just don’t work on the things you’re not doing well; work on the things you do well for this coming season,’ because too many quarterbacks in this league, once you take away what they do well, they don’t have a plan B or a plan C, and it seems that Russell was ready for that challenge. I don’t know how ready Robert Griffin was for that, I don’t know how ready Colin Kaepernick was for that, we’re seeing how Andrew Luck is responding without Reggie Wayne.
“… I think it’s very easy especially in these times with Twitter and Facebook and around-the-clock coverage to fall in love with yourself. And to me, the most impressive thing about Russell Wilson is that he’s not caught up in who he is; he’s still trying to get better as a player.”
Follow Brady Henderson on Twitter @BradyHenderson.