We are all living a nightmare and Russell Wilson is Freddy Krueger.
The Thursday Night Football game between the Denver Broncos and Indianapolis Colts was an utter embarrassment on behalf of Russell Wilson, Nathaniel Hackett, and the entirety of the Denver offensive coaching staff.
There were countless moments in this game that simply left me stunned and speechless as I sat helplessly confused by what I was watching. This is not an Elite QB. Russell Wilson is atop the list of people who need to be blamed for this debacle. Missed reads, errant throws, turnovers, poor pocket management, poor ball-placement; it was all there. This was a shocking display from a QB who will likely end his career in a gold jacket.
The final play of the game, where Russ ignored a wide-open KJ Hamler (who was the designed read for the play!) and instead threw late to a blanketed Courtland Sutton, will be the one that sticks in fans minds, but let it be known, this was the worst game we’ve seen out of Russ all season, and he was missing reads and throws all night. So allow me to run back through it all.
Early on we saw the chance for a massive play to Jeudy off play action, who was running open deep on the crosser, but instead of just putting the ball on Jeudy or leading him away from the defender for some YAC, Russell placed the pass way upfield, allowing the DB to recover and make a play on the ball for a PBU.
Then the next play he misses the read on mesh for a 3-and-out. It’s mesh… two drags with one defender… and he missed the read. KJ Hamler, who he missed, easily would’ve had the first down and likely generated a chunk of YAC. Instead… Denver punt.
Russell Wilson misses wide open K.J. Hamler (1) for potential 3rd down conversion pic.twitter.com/KT4fKhhVxZ— Seth Walder (@SethWalder) October 7, 2022
At this point in time Russ is only working half the field, and repeatedly goes from first read to checkdown far too quickly.
He’s not letting routes develop downfield and he seemingly only trusts Courtland Sutton or Jerry Jeudy to make plays on the ball.
The second half saw even more egregious errors. On the first drive in the third quarter, with Denver looking to push over midfield, Russ left a ball woefully behind a wide-open Tomlinson on a seam route, another big-play missed.
Russell’s biggest play of the day was a 500 ball aided by a referee tripping a defender, and if that doesn’t sound like Broncos Football, I don’t know what does.
Later in the 3rd, after Caden Sterns’ second pick of the game, Hackett called up a slot wheel that saw Jeudy find separation up the left sideline… Russ missed him.
3rd and 13, fourth quarter now. Broncos drive to the Indy 35-yard line, and once again a wide-open KJ Hamler running over the middle is overthrown by about 7 KJ Hamlers, directly into the hands of the opposing safety. To be fair Russ was taking a hit and leaping as he made the throw, but it was so painfully awful and ill-advised that there is no excuse. It was as though Drew Lock had possessed the body of Russell Wilson.
Now, even with ALL of this. The game was still in the Broncos favor with time ticking away.
They led 9-6, and the offensive line started to get some push, allowing the Broncos to drive all the way to the Indianapolis 13-yard line with 2:19 seconds to go. It’s 3rd and 4 and the Colts just used their last timeout, this one should be done for…
Unless Russ makes an ill-advised throw to Tyrie Cleveland, who’s being blanketed by Stephon Gilmore in the endzone, but surely that didn’t happen right? RIGHT?
It did happen… I honestly am still shocked describing it now. The decision, the matchup, the throw, the missed Jerry Jeudy… it was all there and it still hurts.
The Colts would then drive down the field on an exhausted and likely flabbergasted Denver defense for a game-tying field goal to force OT.
Surely there can’t be more right? That has to be the end.
“There was more” -Narrator.
It’s OT, the Colts kicked a field goal making it 12-9, BUT DENVER IS DRIVING.
They’ve managed to get the ball all the way to the Indianapolis 4-yard line… but it’s 4th and 1.
Any normal coach probably goes under center but alas… Hackett is no normal coach.
We’re going from the gun, we’re facing a single high safety and they’re showing man across the board and in all fairness, Hackett has the perfect call.
Jerry and KJ combine for the perfect pick route providing a MASSIVE opening in coverage with KJ begging to be thrown the game-winning touchdown.
As he said himself, “I coulda walked in”.
But Russ didn’t throw to KJ…
Russ didn’t even so much as look at the right side of the field. Instead he stared down Sutton on a backside dig against Stephon Gilmore and threw it incomplete for the loss. Ballgame.
The final play. There was a window to hit Hamler (1). pic.twitter.com/GJ3tznldlM— Seth Walder (@SethWalder) October 7, 2022
This loss doesn’t fall solely on Russ as no football game falls on the mistakes of one player, but he deserves by far the largest portion of blame, especially considering the contract he was rewarded with before playing a single snap in Denver. Wilson was expected to raise all ships and bring a level of veteran competency to the offense fans haven’t seen in close to a decade.
After 5 weeks, it feels as though the Broncos are further from a solution to their offensive woes than ever, with no end in sight. In years prior it was easy to look ahead to the eventual development of our young players, the draft, and hopeful acquisition of a top-tier QB/HC/OC to ease the pain.
With the investment Denver made this offseason in Russell, Hackett, and his staff, it’s difficult to find many silver linings for this team if Russell and Hackett can’t find a way to get the offense going.
Russell is tied to the team through at least 2024, and at quite a hefty price tag. Hackett will be the Denver coach through the end of the season, but what worries me more than Hackett are the positional coaches and assistants he’s entrusted with most of Denver’s young offensive talent. The QB, RT, and TE3 are new players on offense… that’s it! Yet every player outside of Courtland Sutton looks worse from a technical standpoint.
The offensive line is the most glaring example with players such as Cushenberry, Risner, and Bolles all seemingly regressing especially from a penalty standpoint. Albert O was a promising athletic tight end who seemed to be growing before our eyes, he’s now relegated to under 10 snaps per game, and seemingly not in the offensive plans. Javonte Williams’ vision was still an issue before his injury, and Melvin’s fumbling issues seem worse than ever.
This offensive coaching staff Hackett brought in has so far been a disaster and the effects of losing a year of player evaluation/development is truly worrisome for a team lacking in draft capital and excess cap space to acquire proven talent.
So the head coach is a disaster, the offensive staff is a disaster, and Russell Wilson looks like a disaster…
At least we still have the defense and Ejiro Evero!