The Denver Broncos are officially pushing for a playoff spot, to the surprise of just about everyone after the awful start to the season, and one person to thank for that is Russell Wilson.
Or is it?
Look, there is no doubt that Wilson is having a far superior season this year than he did a year ago playing for bumbling Nathaniel Hackett while being babied and running for his life every game, but just how much of the Broncos resurgence is due to him? And how much of it is in spite of him?
Here are the facts on Wilson:
He is ranked 10th in the league in completion percentage with 67.9%. He is tied for second in the league with 18 touchdown passes, and his four interceptions are fewer than anyone above him in that category. His passer rating of 104 is fourth in the league.
These are the stats of one hell of a quarterback. There is no doubt he has redeemed himself this season, and if things keep trucking along the same way, he may be in line for comeback player of the year.
Yet, there are also other areas of Wilson’s game that are less glowing.
He is averaging less than seven yards per pass attempt, well below the average for starting QBs. Given the offense’s lack of production in recent weeks, it begs to question whether he is being aggressive enough.
He also has just 1,806 passing yards not the season, good for 23rd in the league. So basically, he’s hitting his open receivers on short routes but not throwing that often. Those percentage and passer rating accolades mean a little less now.
He has also been sacked 30 times this season, tied for third in the league. While it’s customary to blame the offensive line, it’s clear to anyone watching the games that Wilson holds onto the ball too long and doesn’t go through reads quick enough. When that happens? Yeah, sacks are imminent.
Look, this isn’t to say Wilson isn’t doing his part. In fact, he has been clutch multiple times this season and has made several plays to help the Broncos win games. But that’s not what this is about.
Wilson is the fifth highest paid QB in the league. And he’s playing like an Alex Smith-style game manager. He’s doing enough, he isn’t making many mistakes, but points are still left on the field. Is it enough?
It will be interesting to see how this team finishes out, because it could very well determine just how invested the team is in Russell Wilson moving forward.
On the other side of the argument, though, what could a rookie do better than what Wilson is doing right now?
Kyle Brandt’s baseless accusation that Wilson was a “poser” who didn’t command respect has been pretty much squashed, and oh how sweet it was to see that Days of Our Lives reject go on the ManningCast and be forced to watch Denver win the game following an excellent drive by Wilson.
And sure, he’s being a game manager for the most part, but it’s part of Payton’s plan, and guess what? It’s working! The Broncos are the winners of three straight, including wins over two preseason Super Bowl favorites. And Wilson has not been flashy, but he’s done enough.
This team is hitting its stride at the right time. Let’s say this group continues to win, maybe makes the playoffs, maybe not, but wins 9-10 games. What is the move if Wilson continues to play exactly like he is now?
Is this someone to continue to build off of moving forward? Does he now know the Payton way of doing things to the point of being able to elevate the team further in 2024? Or is this as far as he can go, meaning the team should look rebuild in the 2024 draft with a QB?
If nothing else, Wilson has made this season worth talking about, which is much more than can be said about him a year ago. Whatever happens with him, he’s done his part this season thus far.
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