Russell Wilson might be the NFL's best quarterback

For a player who often says nothing — in a most articulate manner — this was a significant public disclosure. It’s one thing to be unapo...

For a player who often says nothing — in a most articulate manner — this was a significant public disclosure. It’s one thing to be unapologetically great, which is a safe and generic catchall to describe elite talent. But to declare yourself the best? That’s singular and subjective. That’s hard to achieve, harder to maintain. And that’s the perfect expectation for Wilson, whose play through two games this year supports that claim.

Wilson gets hot for stretches every year. He didn’t throw an interception in his first 194 passes last season. But this start is more than that. It’s proof that, remarkably, he continues to grow.

In two games, Wilson has completed 82.5 percent of his passes, thrown for 610 yards and amassed nine touchdowns with only one interception. If Atlanta’s defense was too porous to respect in Week 1, look at what Wilson and the Seahawks did in a wild 35-30 victory over New England on Sunday. Wilson threw for 288 yards and five touchdowns, which tied a career high.

An evolution is clear. The Seahawks are getting smarter about loosening the reins and putting the right offensive talent around him. As spectacular as Wilson has been since entering the NFL in 2012, Coach Pete Carroll has been reluctant to abandon his conservative preferences and put more of the game in his quarterback’s hands. In the past, the Seahawks had the depth of talent to spread the responsibility. But this team is streamlined, not as top-heavy, and Wilson is in his prime. The fan base demands, “Let Russ cook.” For Seattle to be a legitimate contender, Wilson must be allowed to make the most difficult dishes.

In his career, this is something Wilson has yet to do: Stand alone atop the league. Explore all of his talent. Influence winning in a singular manner.

Seven quarterbacks have won MVP honors since Wilson entered the league: Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton, Matt Ryan, Tom Brady, Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson. The award has become a quarterback’s award, and Wilson, Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger are the most notable superstar quarterbacks not to win regular season MVP during this time.

Those quarterbacks aren’t lacking prestige, of course. But Wilson wants it all, especially now that he is 31 and comfortable in his game. And he keeps showing so much remarkable advancement that it only makes sense he would dominate an entire season — at least.

Wilson won a Super Bowl at 25. He went from third-round draft pick to superstardom. Unencumbered at 5-foot-11, he will go down as an influential quarterback in advancing the game past its height bias. Still, for all his accomplishments, he has never been considered the very best at his craft.

Is that possible with Mahomes running the league? With Jackson, the reigning MVP, not that far behind? With Brady attempting to end his career triumphantly? Yes, it’s possible for Wilson. The greatness of other players doesn’t interfere with what he can do. This is more about Wilson being empowered to maximize his abilities.

The Seahawks are in that frame of mind. Wilson is prepared.

“I think that I have an obsession with this thought process of always trying to find more,” Wilson told reporters Sunday night.

After a brutal Week 2 in which injuries plagued the league and robbed it of young stars such as Saquon Barkley and Nick Bosa, the NFL is desperate for bright spots. The Seattle-New England game was definitely one, as usual. These teams can’t help turning every matchup into a classic. In this one, Cam Newton, who threw for 397 yards, showed he is back. Wilson, on the other hand, never left. And he is still improving.

“Glad we only have to play him once every four years,” Patriots Coach Bill Belichick said.

You can explain much of Wilson’s NFL story through his performances against Belichick’s Patriots. As a rookie in his sixth start, he announced his stardom with a three-touchdown performance and a rally from down 23-10 with less than eight minutes remaining. And, of course, there was the infamous interception Wilson threw near the goal line in Super Bowl XLIX, the lowest moment of his pro career and a crushing, insurmountable blow to Seattle’s potential dynasty.

What might this five-touchdown extravaganza foreshadow? If the Seahawks stay committed to unleashing Wilson, it could signify their reinvention. Their best chance is to remain a Wilson-centric team, to play off their elite quarterback the way other teams do. When you’re paying a franchise player $35 million per year, you might as well let him lead the franchise.

Wilson can handle the expectation that he must compete at an MVP level for an entire season. Self-belief defines him. From the moment you meet him, he exudes that confidence. It feels phony at first, then intriguing and finally gripping. It’s a different kind of charisma — both strange and impressive — a quality that Seahawks General Manager John Schneider refers to as the power to “tilt the room.”

“Definitely in the zone,” Wilson said. “Locked in. Focused. Dialed in. My teammates are, too.”

Two magnificent performances into his ninth season, Wilson has entered the mastery phase of his career. Wilson wants to show he’s the best. Carroll and the Seahawks just need to keep giving him the freedom.

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Newsrust: Russell Wilson might be the NFL's best quarterback
Russell Wilson might be the NFL's best quarterback
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