Why Russell Wilson will end up getting more respect nationally in MVP race
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has the numbers and has made the throws that should be enough to make him the front-runner to finally win an MVP award.
But after Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs had the opportunity to play in primetime last Sunday and the commentators raved about things they think only Mahomes can do – but Seattle fans know are also in Wilson’s repertoire – it became clear there’s still a ways to go before Wilson gets proper respect in the MVP race.
There’s one well-known member of the national media who thinks Wilson will be getting the respect he deserves by the end of the season, however: NBC Football Night in America host Mike Tirico. His reason why doesn’t have as much to do about Wilson’s performance as the notoriety of the players around him.
“This Seattle team had mega personalities, and those mega personalities left,” Tirico said on the Brock and Salk Podcast this week. “So maybe it will be one of those things, because the Seahawks have stayed in the (playoff) conversation… when you watch on a national level, you will go, ‘Oh, I don’t know half the guys in their secondary,’ and maybe that will get people thinking, ‘Hey, maybe Russell Wilson is pretty good.'”
That last part got a chuckle out of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Tom Wassell and Kyle Brown, but former NFL quarterback Jake Heaps said Tirico’s point resonated with him.
“You guys laugh, but that is what the national media does – that’s what they are doing,” Heaps said on Wednesday’s edition of Tom, Jake and Stacy. “When Mike Tirico explained that, I was like, yes, that is it. Now you’re watching Russell Wilson in a national perspective of I don’t know the names of the guys he’s surrounded with, and you go, oh yeah, I guess Russell Wilson is a major factor and the reason why the Seahawks are so successful. He’s doing this with less, so to speak.”
What Heaps was pointing to is the fact that the louder personalities that used to overshadow Wilson, like Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Marshawn Lynch, are no longer in Seattle. So when the Seahawks win games in primetime like last Thursday when they knocked off the defending NFC champion Rams 30-29, it’s not as easy to overlook Wilson and his season total of 12 touchdowns to zero interceptions.
Wassell wasn’t so sure Wilson’s talent didn’t shine through back when those players were still his Seahawks teammates, though.
“In 2013 and 14, people did say, ‘Oh, he wins, but he’s got the defense, he’s got Marshawn Lynch.’ I still thought, though, at the time that if you were to list all of the Seahawks’ star players – Sherman, Earl, Marshawn, Russell – Russell was the biggest star,” Wassell said.
Heaps thinks Wilson’s talent has been discounted because of his story as a 5-foot-10 QB who had to prove critics wrong, however – not unlike former WSU QB Gardner Minshew, who has been one of the NFL’s biggest stories this season after taking over as Jacksonville’s starter in his first week as a pro.
“(Wilson) was still a star, and kinda like Gardner Minshew in a way, his story of adversity I think was the thing that drew so many people in,” Heaps said. “This 5-10 quarterback who is making plays that he shouldn’t make, this guy overcoming his height, it was more of a cool story than it was, wow, Russell Wilson is insanely good. That’s where people are starting to flip the script now.”
Lucky for Wilson and his MVP candidacy, he’ll be in the national spotlight at least three more times before the season is over.
“He is gonna get three more primetime opportunities this year,” Heaps said. “When you talk about the MVP conversation, he is going to have to perform in all three of those moments.”