Moore: With Russell Wilson, we’re watching a Hall of Famer at his best
Pro Football Talk came out with its early top candidates for NFL MVP this season, and Russell Wilson was not on the list despite leading the Seahawks to a 2-0 start, completing 78 percent of his passes with five touchdowns and no interceptions.
In last Sunday’s 28-26 win over the Steelers, Wilson was 29 of 35 for 300 yards and three TDs – even more impressive because he was sacked four times in the first 23 minutes and switched to a quick passing game to prevent the Steelers from burying him all game long.
Taking it one step farther, I thought Wilson might not get off to a good start this year, missing his favorite target, Doug Baldwin, who retired in the offseason. I figured it would take some time for Tyler Lockett to assume the role of No. 1 receiver. I also assumed that Wilson would struggle throwing to Jaron Brown and David Moore and rookies D.K. Metcalf, Gary Jennings and John Ursua. I didn’t even factor in Malik Turner, who caught three passes for 54 yards against the Steelers.
Lockett had 10 receptions last Sunday, and Metcalf has been a surprising standout thus far – rookie receivers typically take time to develop as reliable targets, but that hasn’t been the case with Metcalf.
Moore hasn’t even played because of a broken arm, and I’ve all but given up on Brown being a factor with no catches in the first two games after only 14 last year.
Yet Wilson is killing it anyway, and why would we expect anything less? It’s crazy because even the running game has not been exactly elite like it was last year, but nothing seems to matter when it comes to Wilson throwing darts and longballs, whatever the situation dictates.
On Sunday he became the fifth-fastest quarterback to 200 touchdown passes. Keep in mind that all of this happened on a team that prefers to run more than pass. With a quarterback who is not even 5-foot-11 inches tall.
Granted, it’s only two games, but if he maintains his current pace, he will throw for nearly 4,000 yards with 40 TD passes. There’s no way he can keep up this rate of completing passes – 78 percent so far – but I’d bet that he hits 70 percent for the first time. His best year was 2015 when he completed 68.1 percent of his passes. For his career, he’s at 64.5 percent.
In his last 16 regular season games, Wilson has a touchdown to interception rate of 35 to 4. If you’re like me, it’s reached the point of being jaw-dropping when he throws an interception – that’s how rare it is.
His best stat though is his won-loss record – in the regular season he’s 77-36-1, and in the playoffs he’s 8-5.
I don’t know where you’d rank him on the list of the NFL’s best quarterbacks, but it would be hard to keep him out of the top 5. I know most people have him behind Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes, maybe even Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers. Put another way, which quarterback would you trade him straight up for? Mahomes is the only one you’d even consider, but I would hesitate to do it, fearing that Wilson would haunt me every day in Kansas City.
Forget the MVP race – Wilson will be in it, but he’ll be one of those back-of-the-packers that everyone continues to discount because he won’t have the pinball-machine numbers of a Mahomes or someone else. But he’s heading toward the Hall of Fame. I think he’s right on the doorstep if not already in. It will probably take another Super Bowl victory for him to ensure a gold jacket, but don’t you think that will happen in the next 10 years?
Wilson is only 30, and if I had to bet on whether he never wins another Super Bowl or wins two or more in the 2020s, I’d bet on two or more. We’ve seen him for seven-plus years – he’s that good, helping lead the Seahawks to the playoffs in six of his seven seasons, and he might be 7 for 7 with a better kicker.
You can justifiably scoff at the MVP voters and the too-short-to-be-a-good-quarterback crowd, but Wilson will get the final word when he’s inducted into the Hall of Fame.
More from Moore: With 2-0 start, this Seahawks season feels different