Gallant: Russell Wilson may not be an All-Pro or MVP, but can add to legacy
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was supposed to meet his destiny in 2020.
It began with his first ever All-Pro (Second-Team) season in 2019. It continued during the offseason when he acknowledged frustration over never having received an MVP vote. That poured more gasoline on the online stove demanding to “Let Russ Cook.” And after 19 touchdowns to three interceptions in his first five games, everything was finally within Wilson’s grasp.
• First-Team All-Pro
• The single season passing touchdown record
• And most importantly, a valid claim as the NFL’s best quarterback.
But it didn’t happen.
It’s strange to think of Russell Wilson’s season as a disappointment. After all, he set a personal record – and Seahawks record – for touchdown passes in a season. His 40 touchdown tosses in 2020 were tied with Tom Brady for the second most in the league. He led the Seahawks to a 12-4 record, their first NFC West title since 2016, and has a fair chance to make it to his third career Super Bowl.
Unfortunately, those 40 TD passes weren’t even good enough for another Second-Team All-Pro nod. And it has me wondering if Russ will have the Drew Brees experience: an incredible career without an MVP.
“PAWL. Are you about to dive into the most Speak For Your Pizza-esque topic a talking head can blab about? GOAT Talk?”
Right you are, Ken.
It’s hard to have an honest conversation about who the greatest quarterback of all time is. First off, who the heck has actually seen every one of these quarterbacks? This 31-year-old sure as heck hasn’t. On top of that, football has changed so much over the last 60 years. Can you accurately compare Tom Brady’s success in the quarterback friendly 2000s to Joe Montana’s 1980s experience? How do you measure the statistical accomplishments of someone like Aaron Rodgers against a Dan Marino?
It isn’t easy. And that’s why wins – especially playoff and Super Bowl victories – are weighed so heavily. But even that leads down a tricky path. Should a quarterback like Terry Bradshaw who played before the salary cap era have a leg up on someone like Peyton Manning?
“So many questions that you’re not even answering, PAWL.”
Let me get back on track. I think you can separate the All-Time great quarterbacks into two groups: Statistical Nightmares (Marino, Manning, Rodgers, etc.) and the Winning Machines (Brady, Montana, Bradshaw). And this year’s playoffs set up nicely for Russell Wilson to break into the latter.
Wilson – just 32 years old – has made the Super Bowl twice, something 19 other quarterbacks have been able to do. Where Russ really stands out is with his total playoff victories. He already has nine, winning at least one game in six of his seven playoff appearances. That’s just one shy of Aaron Rodgers, and four behind Ben Roethlisberger.
The Seahawks obviously don’t have homefield advantage for these playoffs. Rodgers’ Packers won that power. Still, a postseason in empty stadiums means Wilson has a fantastic opportunity to catch those two THIS YEAR (with a little help from the Browns). Especially when you consider how wide open the NFC is. Green Bay sure hasn’t been winning in the same convincing fashion as Kansas City and Buffalo this season.
It’s unlikely that Russell Wilson will be able to catch Tom Brady. He’s won 30 playoff games, been to nine Super Bowls, and won six. Even three Super Bowls victories seems like they may be out of reach. But Russ has a great chance at stacking more playoff wins in these playoffs. And the second-most playoff wins ever – Joe Montana’s 16 – is within reach. Here’s hoping he takes the first step towards that elite company when the Seahawks face off against the Rams.