Russell Wilson: Top Candidate for 2018 MVP?

2015-nfl-playoffs-russell-wilsonRussell Wilson has been in the NFL MVP conversation entering each of the last few seasons. But he’s not on the same tier as Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers when you look at the 2018 NFL MVP odds. That said, Wilson could offer major upside on the MVP prop bet.

This might seem strange when considering that Wilson didn’t receive a single vote last year. But the four-time Pro Bowler certainly deserved consideration, given that he kept Seattle in postseason contention. 2018 will see Wilson play on an even less-talented version of the Seahawks.

First off, he’ll be the lone big star on offense. Receiver Doug Baldwin is the only other serious playmaker on this team. The run game is barely there, and the offensive line hasn’t provided Wilson with a clean pocket in years.

He won’t always have great field position either when considering that Seattle’s dominant defense is now broken up. Gone are Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, Cliff Avril, and Michael Bennett.

One more challenge the team faces is a new offensive coordinator in Brian Schottenheimer. This isn’t to say that Schottenheimer won’t be good in his role. But it’s just one more question mark in a slew of them for Seattle.

Wilson will Need to do Even More This Season

russell-wilsonLast season, Russell Wilson led the league in touchdown passes (34), led his team in rushing yards (586), and accounted for 95% of Seattle’s scores. Sadly, he’ll need to be even better than this for the Hawks to succeed.

Only a few other players in the league are asked to do as much, including Rodgers, Brady, Cam Newton, and Matt Stafford. Wilson belongs in this list, and his coaches realize it too.

They were a smash-mouth running team when he arrived. Now, Seattle relies completely on Wilson’s talents to generate offense.

He’s one of the league’s best when it comes to making zone-reads, creating plays out of nowhere, and busting off explosive runs.

Will Seattle’s Offensive Plan Work?

Schottenheimer runs a complex version of the West Coast offense that relies on a strong running game. But it might be Wilson doing most of the running this season.

As good as Wilson is, though, head coach Pete Carroll knows that the team needs other people making plays to win. Therefore, he’s willing to commit to Shottenheimer’s offensive style.

“It’s a commitment to that’s the style of play and that fits,” Carroll told ESPN710 Seattle.

russell-wilson-2018-mvp“You go back to a couple of years ago when [Schottenheimer] had Mark Sanchez back there and they ran the football like crazy, and they won a couple of championships there really with a young quarterback based on the commitment to the run and playing defense.

“Well you know us, that’s something that we do understand about how you play the game of football. He’s committed to it. He gets us.”

The hope is that the team has a balanced attack that features s 50:50 pass-run ratio. This would be a departure from the pass-heavy offense of previous years.

Seattle passed on nearly 60% of their plays in 2017 and missed the playoffs. Yet they had 53:47 and 52:48 ratios during their back-to-back Super Bowl runs.

While all of this sounds good, the Seahawks may not have the personnel to pull off Schottenheimer’s vision. They took Rashaad Penny in the first round in hopes that he can spark the running game. But he’s a rookie, and Wilson is a more-reliable option to carry the load at this point.

Can the Seahawk’s Offensive Line Hold Up?

As mentioned before, Seattle’s offensive line hasn’t been the greatest over the past few seasons. However, they’re hoping that returning four starters from last season can help this problem.

Duane Brown and Germain Ifedi return as starting tackles, Justin Britt returns at center, and Ethan Pocic will start at guard again.

“I think that we actually have a consistency up front right now with the ones in particular, which we’ve never really had,” Wilson said of this year’s O-line.

“We always kind of trade places and put people in, which is good, but then at the same time, there’s no consistency. And with the line in particular, those five guys, you need that consistency, you need the nucleus of those five.”

If the offensive line plays better and exceeds expectations, then Wilson has a realistic shot at putting up MVP numbers. Assuming he can also propel Seattle to the playoffs, then he’ll be competing alongside the likes of Rodgers and Brady for the MVP.