Heaps: Heart of Seahawks’ schedule is most critical for Wilson’s MVP case
If not for a stellar season from Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson would have gotten more love in the 2019 MVP discussion.
Jackson took home the hardware in a unanimous vote, but for most of the season, it was a two-man race between the two quarterbacks.
While the Seahawks will always show an affinity for running the football, it is clearly Russell Wilson’s team, and moves made on the offensive side of the football this offseason both in the draft, free agency and in coaching shakeups signal we could see Wilson unleashed moreso than we saw in 2019, when he completed 66.1 percent of his passes for 4,110 yards, 31 touchdowns and just five interceptions.
If Wilson is to earn his first MVP award, which would make him the first Seahawks to win the award since running back Shaun Alexander in 2005, which stretch of the recently-released Seahawks’ schedule will Wilson need to particularly shine in?
Former Seahawks quarterback Jake Heaps of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Tom, Jake and Stacy provided some insight.
“The beginning of it is going to be relatively easier than what they had last year, in my opinion, and then the ending is going to finish out pretty well,” he said. “When you talk about MVP conversation for Russell Wilson and how you’re going to build that, it’s going to come through the middle at the heart of your schedule.”
Winning on my mind. pic.twitter.com/1Vh3zl8ibT
— Russell Wilson (@DangeRussWilson) May 6, 2020
Prior to Seattle’s Week 6 bye, they play the Atlanta Falcons, New England Patriots, Dallas Cowboys, Miami Dolphins and Minnesota Vikings. The Seahawks beat both the Falcons and Vikings last year, the Dolphins are still rebuilding, the Patriots lost quarterback Tom Brady and key defensive players in free agency and the Cowboys missed the playoffs at 8-8 last year. There’s a good chance Seattle enters their bye 4-1 or even 5-0.
As for the end of their season, the Seahawks face the New York Giants and New York Jets at home in weeks 13 and 14, respectively. Seattle then travels to Washington, who had the second overall pick in the last draft, before coming home to face the Los Angeles Rams, who many believe could end in last place in the NFC West in 2020. Week 17 should be a good one, as the Seahawks go on the road to face the San Francisco 49ers to end the regular season.
Week 7 through Week 12 is Heaps’ pick for the stretch of schedule most crucial for Wilson to make his case that he’s the league’s MVP.
“You’re going to be playing some of the hardest teams in the NFL,” he said. “The Arizona Cardinals, the San Francisco 49ers, the Buffalo Bills, who have a great defense, the Los Angeles Rams, the Arizona Cardinals and (the Philadelphia Eagles).”
Seattle went 1-1 against Arizona last year and some have tabbed them as a dark horse playoff team for 2020. With Brady out of the AFC East, the Bills, who made the playoffs last year, are the favorites to take hold of the division. The 49ers were the NFC champions last year and played in the Super Bowl and the Eagles won the NFC East, though they lost to the Seahawks in Week 12 and in the wild card round of last year’s playoffs.
Week 11 and Week 12 will both be primetime matchups, as the Seahawks host the Cardinals on Thursday Night Football before traveling to Philadelphia for Monday Night football. Performing well on a national stage could be big for building Wilson’s MVP case.
“You’re going to have quite a few primetime games during that stretch and run as well, so that’s going to be a really key part,” Heaps said. “You’re talking about MVP race? Well you’ve got to perform during that stretch.”
Listen to the second hour of Friday’s Tom, Jake and Stacy at this link or in the player below.