More often than not, the best players at their respective position aren’t compensated as such. However, after signing an extension in April and wrapping up yet another fourth-quarter comeback on Sunday, Russell Wilson is, without a doubt, a rarity in the NFL business. Not only is he the highest-paid quarterback, but Wilson currently leads the MVP race because, well, he’s the best.
Wilson entered Week 9 with an NFL leading 115.5 passer rating before tossing five scores in a 40-34 shootout at CenturyLink Field. After wrapping the 31st fourth-quarter/overtime comeback of his career, Wilson may very well be putting together his best season at the age of 30. At his current pace, Wilson stands to set career marks in passing yards, completion percentage, yards per completion average, touchdown passes, and passer rating.
Better yet, Wilson is getting sacked less. The last time Wilson was sacked under 41 times in a season was back in 2012, his rookie year. If things continue as they have, 2019 could very well be the first time in seven seasons it occurs again.
As a result, he’s taking better care of the football. In nine weeks, Wilson has thrown one interception and fumbled four times (losing one). Compare that with the two years prior where Wilson was picked off 18 times and lost five of 24 total fumbles. So what gives? How is he making a case for his first MVP award?
Wilson is using his legs more efficiently. Instead of running around and downfield, Wilson has mastered the art of escapability to buy time for his receivers and manufacture passing lanes.
At 30 years old, Wilson still has the athleticism of a younger man. The increased amount of hits and sacks he’s received the last few seasons have sped up his internal clock, but not in a negative sense. Wilson is calmly escaping the rush, getting throws off sooner, and taking fewer hits in the process. To summarize, Wilson is playing smarter in 2019.
It helps when you’re just as accurate from the pocket as on the run. Check out these tight-window completions from Sunday’s matchup against Tampa Bay’s porous secondary.
As seen from the final play in the clip above, Wilson found success on deep right throws. He’d complete all three attempts of 20 or more yards to the right side of the field for 102 yards and two touchdowns. In the image below, you’ll find just how efficient Wilson was on Sunday in comparison to the league as a whole.
According to Pro Football Network’s Offensive Share Metric (OSM), Russell Wilson wrapped Week 9 with a grade of 28.47. While good for 11th best among Week 9 eligible quarterbacks, Wilson has been top five all season long.
His 33.71 overall OSM ranks fourth among NFL passers and first among quarterbacks with seven or more wins in 2019. Why is this significant? Compared to the rest of the NFL, Russell Wilson is adding more value, individually, to his team’s fantastic record than any other quarterback.
They don’t call it the Most Valuable Player award for nothing.
Make sure you’re getting the latest installment of QB Hot Read as a new quarterback film study drops every Wednesday with Shane G. Tyler, the Content Director and contributor for Pro Football Network’s Film Room. You can follow him on Twitter @SugaShane15.