Two weeks into the 2022 NFL regular season, all the hype surrounding the new-look Denver Broncos has all but sizzled.
After an entire offseason of hope and optimism, 14 days into the season, fans and media heads alike are wondering if Nathaniel Hackett is in over his head as head coach and whether the Broncos have the ability to make quick fixes to the self-inflicted issues plaguing the team thus far.
Luckily, for Hackett and fans of the Broncos alike, Russell Wilson is still the Broncos’ QB, and the team’s upcoming Sunday night opponent is one in which he has a very comfortable familiarity.
Wilson, since he debuted in 2012, has a commanding 16-4 record vs. the San Francisco 49ers. In those 20 games, he has completed just shy of 65% of his passes for 36 touchdowns to just 10 interceptions. Yeah. The red and gold doesn’t scare him.
But, if we’re being honest, it’s unfair to lump all those 49ers teams together, as coach Kyle Shanahan has only been leading the charge since 2017. It’s important to keep things in perspective, after all.
So during the Shanahan era, Wilson has completed just shy of 67% of his passes while throwing 22 touchdowns to just 3 interceptions.
Yeah, to repeat, Wilson doesn’t get phased by the Golden Gate squad.
But as long as we’re keeping things in perspective...all those numbers and wins came as a member of the Seattle Seahawks. He’s now a member of the Denver Broncos, and Wilson’s new team hasn’t exactly came out firing out of the gate.
The Broncos lead the league in penalties, including false starts and delay of games.
Head coach Nathaniel Hackett is apparently so out of his element that he felt the need to bring in a game management expert to help him shore out his issues.
Wilson himself has had his share of uphill battles as well. While he entered this season with a reputation of being cool under pressure, having thrown 23 TDs under pressure since 2020 (second only to Josh Allen, according to Pro Football Focus), he’s been having to adjust with his new teammates.
According to Pro Football Reference, Wilson has been under pressure 31.3% of the time, good enough for 8th in the league, and given he’s had to weather injuries to his wide receivers while adjusting to a new offense and teammates, the Broncos’ offense has struggled.
The team is honestly fortunate to be 1-1 given their early season struggles, as they were gifted with two shoulda-been-wins to start the season off. The 49ers will display a dynamic front 7 on defense, though, so the pressure he faced from the likes of the Texans and Seahawks will seem like a walk in the park when Nick Bosa gets in his space.
Yet, while it’s difficult, if not downright absurd to think the Broncos will turn it around against a team who throttled the team that embarrassed them in week 1, Russell Wilson’s track record against the 49ers should not be overlooked.
Here is more optimism to drink in the day of the game for anyone looking for hope to grasp at.
One positive through two weeks is that no team is moving the ball better than the Denver Broncos so far. 57.5 yards per drive comfortably ranks first in the NFL— Zach Segars (@Zach_Segars) September 19, 2022
2nd-4th is KC, BUF, and PHI
At some point, the team has to finish, right?
It also bears positive for the Broncos that both WR Jerry Jeudy and CB Pat Surtain are expected to play Sunday night, as are LB Josey Jewell (who will be badly needed to help offset the debut of SF TE George Kittle) and WR KJ Hamler.
Following a week of scary injury rumors, the Broncos could potentially be at full strength(ish) come Sunday night, and with Hackett’s self-reported dedication to righting wrongs, a new face in the building to help manage certain situations, and Russell Wilson’s dominating record vs. the 49ers, this very well could be the game that resets the hype train for Broncos Country.
Still, the Russell Wilson who donned the green and blue and dominated San Francisco throughout his career will have to be the QB who shows up Sunday night. And for that to happen, the rest of the offense will have to fall into place.
Following the debacle win that came over the Houston Texans, the likelihood of that happening is anyone’s guess.