Sunday Night wrap-up: Russell Wilson states case for MVP
The Seahawks have started six different running backs this year. They finally found a left tackle at the trade deadline, but their line has been a revolving door (if not a turnstile) all year. Their receivers are good, not great.
Their quarterback, on the other hand, is fantastic.
Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson was brilliant again Sunday, leading the Seahawks to a 24-10 win over the Eagles.
He finished 20-of-31 passing for 227 yards and three touchdowns.
But it’s the way he orchestrates everything, when nothing around him is perfect, that separates Wilson from most.
He’s grown as a passer, which adds to the knack for late-game situations he’s always had. He doesn’t have to be running around to make plays anymore, though the reality of the Seahawks offensive line is that he’s usually running for his life.
But he keeps producing, even if it’s on his own. He’s either rushed or passed for 29 of the Seahawks’ 30 touchdowns this season, a remarkable stat which ought to put him in the conversation for the league’s most valuable player honors.
And more importantly, he’s moved them to 8-4, within a game of the Rams for the top of the NFC West, and they have a win over their division rivals in their pocket, with a Week 15 game at their place looming.
Here are five more things we learned during Sunday Night Football:
1. Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz was quiet for most of the night, and mostly that was because of the Seahawks.
But in the fourth quarter, he showed the kind of talent that has him in MVP conversations.
His rolling to the right/falling with a guy around his legs/51-yard dart to Nelson Agholor was simply a matter of having a strong arm, and the rest of the body to go with it.
It’s the kind of throw probably a third of the league’s starting quarterbacks can make, and he has made a number of them this season. His athleticism puts him in position to make big plays downfield, and his arm talent (even though that’s a terrible scouting cliche it just happens to be true in this case) allows him to put them in the books.
2. Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham is playing like it’s a contract year.
Maybe that’s because it’s a contract year.
While it seems like it took forever for Graham to figure out how the Seahawks do business, there’s no doubt he gets it now. With his first quarter touchdown, Graham now has five touchdowns over the last four games (and nine for the season).
The 31-year-old Graham can $till make play$ in the pa$$ing game, and he'$ making them at the right time when it come$ to his fi$cal future.
3. Speaking of contracts, the Eagles just gave wide receiver Alshon Jeffery one.
What they didn’t do is let him earn it, at least early.
Jeffery wasn’t targeted with a pass in the first half, and they made sure to look his way twice on the first possession of the second half to get him involved.
He finished with four catches for 61 yards.
4. The Seahawks have built a strong defense on the foundation of their pass-rush, which is talented and deep.
But the Eagles had to blanch when some of that pressure was coming from defensive end Marcus Smith.
The former Eagles first-rounder was the definition of a draft bust, with four sacks in three seasons there.
But he has 2.5 this year and had a hurry Sunday night, and is part of the rotation that can keep the Seahawks defense dangerous even though they’re so depleted by injuries.
That said, the Seattle secondary made its share of plays, with Bradley McDougald and Byron Maxwell filling in. Those two guys aren’t going to make anyone forget Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman, but along with rookie cornerback Shaquill Griffin, it’s still a solid group.
5. On the other hand, the Eagles are cashing in when it comes to wide receiver Nelson Agholor, finally.
The 2015 first-rounder had battled drops and mental errors and inconsistency through his first two seasons, but has become a useful part of a very good offense.
Sunday was clearly his best game of the season (seven catches for 141 yards and a touchdown), but he’s made considerable strides and it wasn’t a total outlier.
It’s good to see Agholor push through the problems and improve, but it’s also encouraging for the Eagles to have patience for him to get to this point. Not every organization is so inclined.