MVP: Most Valuable Player. Not the most talented player, not the best player each season; but the player who provides the most value to their team each season – the player who individually has the most impact on their team and would hurt their team the most if they were to be replaced.
There’s a huge difference between talented and valuable. For example, JJ Watt is talented, but the Texans seem to be just fine without him. Blake Griffin is talented, but the Clippers are better since he left, and the Pistons are bad with or without him.
Players who are truly valuable often go unnoticed until they are gone, like Andrew Luck this year or in 2017 when his absence resulted in an abysmal 4-12 season. Valuable players are the ones you trust most on that final drive down 6 late in the 4th quarter. Russell Wilson (who has never missed a single game in his 8 year career) is certainly one of these rare players whose experience, leadership, play-making and magical ability to “find a way” make him the most valuable player in the NFL today.
Now the obvious response to this is why Ravens’ breakout star QB Lamar Jackson isn’t MVP? Lamar might be the best player in the NFL right now, but this is about who is the most valuable. Let’s take a closer look at how much of an impact Lamar has on a game compared to Russell Wilson.
Baltimore without Lamar Jackson still has 11 other pro bowl selections, 5 of them being on offense – they have the 4th highest-graded offensive line according to Pro Football Focus (will be referred to as PFF) which has led to him being sacked the 3rd least times in the league among starting quarterbacks, the Ravens also have a pro bowl running back (and fullback), one of the best young tight ends in football (who is also a pro bowler) and a very solid receiving core; you could put a fair number of quarterbacks in there and they would still have a very talented team.
Lamar may be the best quarterback in the NFL today, but if he were to disappear, Baltimore wouldn’t be that worse off. So is he the most talented player? Maybe. But is he the most valuable player in the NFL? I don’t think so.
Let’s take a look at Seattle, the team with zero offensive pro-bowlers besides their signal caller.
The team with the:
- 31st ranked offensive line by PFF,
- 27th ranked receiving core by PFF,
- 21th ranked special teams,
- 26th ranked total defence.
The team with those miserable stats belongs to the 11-5 Seahawks who for parts of the year held the number 1 seed in the 3rd conference ever to have 3 teams with 13 wins. This team came ONE INCH from taking the division title in Week 17 and securing a home playoff game despite being ranking in the bottom 10 for many key statistics. The only reason Seattle has 11 wins is Russell Wilson – the Seahawks without Wilson is simply a bad football team.
And it isn’t Pete Carroll who’s saving them either, Carroll’s win percentage in Seattle without Wilson is a pedestrian 44%, however he’s improved to an astonishing 68% win percentage in Wilson’s 8 years (including 7 playoff berths and 2 super bowl appearances –resulting in one title). The Seahawks have the 2nd best record behind the Patriots in that span.
Seattle has played in 12 games decided by one-score (8 points) or less – they have won an incredible 10 of those 12 games becoming only the second team ever to win 10 such games. The two losses came against the Saints where Wilson led the Seahawks to a 20-point 4th quarter in a 33-27 defeat as well as the previously mentioned final game of the decade where the Seahawks came one inch short against the 49ers in their Week 17 battle for the NFC West. This shows that when games are close late in the 4th quarter and they need that game-winning drive (Wilson leads the NFL with five 4th quarter or OT game-winning drives), Wilson consistently delivers, and there’s no one I trust more in these situations then him.
Advanced analytics sites Pro Football Reference, Pro Football Focus, Football Savant and Sharp Football Statistics all have their own respective WAR (Wins Above Replacement) metrics where Wilson doesn’t just rank first in each of them but is at least one full win above any other player (Wilson at an average of 3.12 WAR, next best player at 2.06 WAR). Dak Prescott ranks 2nd in three of those four sites.
Wilson is the most underrated quarterback of all-time; this year he became the first player ever to have a winning record in each of his first eight seasons. He also has the 2nd highest passer rating in NFL-history. Yet somehow Wilson has never received a single MVP vote, nor has he ever been selected to a First or Second Team All-Pro Roster. Now, having the best season of his career, ranking 3rd in passing touchdowns and 2nd-lowest in interceptions per attempt in the league, all while leading the NFL in times sacked, Wilson finally deserves to be rewarded with this year’s MVP award.