Russell Wilson is the NFL’s sure-fire MVP of the 2020 season – through five weeks and beyond. The man has never received a single MVP vote, so we will assuredly take home the award in 2020 unless the Seattle Seahawks take a bizarre nosedive. That won’t happen.
Following the Week 5 Vikings loss in Seattle, Wilson is now 7-0 versus Minnesota. Before this matchup, during this matchup, and probably after this matchup, Wilson is incapable of losing to the Minnesota Vikings. If the 2015 NFC Wildcard playoff game felt like a weird heartbreaker in the moment, it was only a signal of the majesty to come on behalf of Wilson.
Indeed, the Vikings have traveled to the Emerald City in three consecutive years. It is now wholly preordained that Mike Zimmer’s Vikings cannot and will not solve Wilson, no matter the circumstances. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, there were no fans at CenturyLink Field. That had to give the Vikings a teensy advantage, right?
Maybe. But the end result is still very much familiar. The 31-year-old Wilson continue his wizardry over the Vikings – even when the statistical deck should have mandated a Teflon victory for Minnesota.
Vikings loyalists have spent the better part of three decades stewing over the accolades of Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers, and then AFC foes like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning in games versus the purple and gold. Time after time, Wilson is proving those men were pedestrian and beatable compared to the superhuman antics he musters versus the Vikings.
The Vikings squandered a purplishly-golden opportunity to head back to Minneapolis with a 2-3 record with the embattled Atlanta Falcons visiting U.S. Bank Stadium in Week 6.
But Russell Wilson wiggled out of defeat. And, it should not have happened.
Seahawks Did Not Convert a 3rd Down
The solo item separating last year’s Vikings defense from an upper-echelon, 2017-like tier of performance was third-down efficiency. The 2017 and 2018 Vikings defense were borderline legends from a defensive third-down standpoint. In 2019, that rigidity was loosened, and Minnesota finished 19th in the business in defensive third-down percentage. In 2017 and 2018, the Vikings were No. 1 in the NFL.
As for 2020, the entire defense has been a work in progress. In Week 1 and 2, the defense was abysmal and felt like a group of men that vehemently needed a preseason to coagulate.
In Week 5 versus the Seahawks, though, the Vikings did not allow Seattle to convert a third down – at all. Russell Wilson and his bunch were 0 for 7 on third down. That’s a recipe for guaranteed success, correct? Most of the time. In the last ten years, teams that did not convert a third down in a game had a win-loss record of 7-34 (.171).
However, that stat is now fool’s gold regarding the Vikings. Minnesota lost another soul-crusher to Seattle, and they didn’t even allow the Seahawks a third-down conversion.
Vikings Dominate Time of Possession
A trademark of Mike Zimmer football is time of possession. In his six years with the Vikings, he generally executes a strategy predicated on early leads, staunch defense, limited turnovers, running the football, and time of possession. It’s a fruitful concoction – the Vikings are the NFL’s eighth-best team since Zimmer arrived Minnesota from Cincinnati.
Against Seattle in Week 5, the Vikings held the ball for over 39 minutes. It was the first time in Zimmer’s head coaching career that his team possessed the ball for more than 38 minutes. Habitually, when a Zimmer-led team gets to 35 minutes with time of possession, it’s elementary. The Vikings were 10-0 since 2014 when holding onto the ball for more than 35 minutes.
For Seattle, the Vikings created a time-of-possession nightmare. And again, it didn’t matter. Wilson finagled his way out of sure defeat to upend in Minnesota in heroic fashion.
Consider this: Since 2010, teams that possessed the ball prior to Sunday night for more than 39 minutes in a game were 107-14-6 (.866). Owning the time-of-possession battle to this degree resulted in a win 87 percent of the time. Seattle overcame a humongous hurdle.
Still, Wilson Given a Chance
Mike Zimmer is often lambasted for not “stepping on the throats” of an opponent when the Vikings have a lead. It’s a major knock on the 64-year-old, at least as far as fans are concerned.
So, on Sunday night, he went for broke on 4th and 1 to seemingly ice the game late in the fourth quarter. A run play was executed vis-à-vis the hot hands and legs of RB2, Alexander Mattison. The Seahawks snuffed it out, and Wilson was granted a chance to author another game-winning drive.
Zimmer will be roasted for that decision-making. It’s already started. One week he will be coined too conservative; this week he’ll be derided as too aggressive. The pendulum of The Digital Age is ripe with kneejerk angst and sanctimonious reactions. On this night, Zimmer was way too aggressive – or so says the “he’s too conservative” crowd from last week.
Mattison failed to seal the deal with a one-yard pickup. The Vikings clung to a five-point lead. Unsurprisingly, Wilson conducted his theatrics upon a Vikings defense that is still adjusting to life without Danielle Hunter – and one that is tasked with an emergency maturity plan.
Wilson found D.K. Metcalf for the decisive score, and the now-long history of Wilson wiggling his way into victory was on full display.