Fangio: Russell Wilson a legitimate MVP candidate
Russell Wilson has 22 touchdowns to six interceptions and a 108.5 QB rating this season. (USATSI)
RENTON, Wash. -- Russell Wilson was asked Thursday if the Seattle Seahawks quarterback should be in the conversation for league MVP.
His response was 417 words, with nearly all of them deflecting attention away from himself and onto his teammates. Wilson mentioned Marshawn Lynch, Robert Turbin, Doug Baldwin, Golden Tate, Jermaine Kearse, Ricardo Lockette, Sidney Rice, Zach Miller, Luke Willson and his entire offensive line, and barely talked about himself.
"So give a lot of credit to those guys. It's one of those things, it's not just me," Wilson said. "I'm just trying to facilitate the ball to the right guy at the right time and hopefully they catch it and hopefully they score and hopefully they get the first down and hopefully we win a lot of games."
Don't expect Wilson to engage in that discussion, even if it's slowly becoming a legitimate question about a situation others believe is plausible.
Wilson is coming off arguably his best overall game of the season. He threw for 310 yards and three touchdowns and ran for another 47 yards in the Seahawks' 34-7 blowout of New Orleans. And because it came on Monday night in front of a national audience, and because the Seahawks have the best record in the NFL at 11-1, Wilson's recent play is being highlighted.
His previous three games have been among the best of his career. Against Atlanta, Minnesota and New Orleans, Wilson has thrown a combined seven touchdowns, zero interceptions and had a quarterback rating of higher than 134 in all three wins.
What was already a really good season leading the Seahawks to the top of the NFC has grown into something bigger with this recent stretch. While it seems unlikely Wilson could overtake the huge season Peyton Manning is having with the Broncos, the way Wilson is playing has grabbed attention.
"Everybody thinks this guy's a freak quarterback," San Francisco defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. "This guy's just a really good quarterback who happens to be very fast, very quick and very elusive. He's not just a guy that runs around. He's a passer, too. He can run any offense and be a confident quarterback."
Wilson will return this week to San Francisco, the site of one of his worst games as a pro quarterback. It came in Week 7 of last season, a 13-6 49ers win, and it was before the Seahawks had decided to open up the entire playbook to Wilson.
He finished that game 9 of 22 passing for 122 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. It was one of only two games last season where Wilson did not throw a touchdown. It was the fewest yards passing for Wilson in any game in his career and his lowest passer rating (38.7).
"I've just learned so much more from then, the experience that I've had," Wilson said.
That night in San Francisco was the bottom for Wilson's young career. In the 21 games since that loss, Wilson has been among the best QBs in the NFL. He's led Seattle to an 18-3 record. His passer rating of 111.9 during that stretch is the best in the NFL. He's thrown 40 touchdowns against six interceptions and completed more than 66 percent of his passes.
This season, Wilson is third in the league in passer rating (108.5). He's third in yards per attempt (8.74), tied for sixth in touchdown passes (22), seventh in completion percentage (64.9) and has thrown only six interceptions.
Added to all the passing numbers is Wilson's ability as a runner - averaging 38 yards per game rushing - and the fact that he's been without key parts of the Seahawks offense for much of the season. Wide receiver Percy Harvin has played in only one game. Offensive tackles Breno Giacomini and Russell Okung missed more than half the season with injuries and center Max Unger was out for three games.
"I think of him as a leading MVP candidate. I would put him up there with the Peytons and the Bradys. I don't know what you've got to do to be there because within our offense he's done just about everything you can do to be an MVP candidate," Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman said. "When you have a running back like Marshawn Lynch, you're not going to throw the ball 45, 50 times a game. You've got to hand it to him some and feed the beast, as they say in Seattle. He's been very efficient at home and away. We've won most of the games that we've played. He has the best winning percentage of anybody out there playing now. At the end of the day, they say it's about wins."