BRONCOS

Broncos have won just five lousy games since Russell Wilson trade

Sep 19, 2023, 5:00 AM | Updated: 3:25 pm

The Russell Wilson trade looked like it was a bust after the 2022 season.

2023 was supposed to help change that narrative, but so far it isn’t working.

And while the Broncos being 0-2 is more on the defense than it is on Wilson, he also had a costly fumble against the Commanders on Sunday that changed the entire game. Up 21-3, Wilson gave the ball away and the comeback was on.

The 35-33 loss was a stunning collapse, especially for a franchise that’s now just 5-14 since GM George Paton acquired Wilson from the Seahawks and gave him a $245M contract extension.

How did the defeat happen and what were the biggest takeaways? Let’s dive into it with our second edition of the Good, the Bad and the Ugly for the 2023 season.

The Good

The first quarter and a half of the game was the best Wilson’s looked in a Broncos uniform. He threw two of his signature “moon balls” to rookie Marvin Mims Jr., including one that went for a long touchdown.

Wilson’s ability to drop the ball out of the sky into a receiver’s lap was one of the things that made him so special in Seattle. His touch on the football is elite, and he showed he still has that trait.

Wilson finished with more than 300 yards passing and three touchdowns, but the final one was thanks to a Hail Mary. That puts a little bit of an asterisk on the total yardage and last TD.

But Denver, at least for a little bit of time, showed why bringing in an offensive coach like Sean Payton was what they had to do. 33 points is a lot in an NFL game, and should make you a winner. Well, the Broncos are 0-2 and not 1-1, and that’s because the defense had an absolutely brutal afternoon.

The Bad

What happened to this group of defenders? It looks like bringing back Vance Joseph to be their coordinator was a potentially massive mistake, and letting Ejiro Evero get out of town was also a big miss.

Look, everyone knows Evero was unhappy with how the things ended with his buddy Nathaniel Hackett, but money talks. And the Walton-Penner Family Ownership Group certainly has enough of it that they could’ve kept Evero. Instead, it was a reunion with “VJ,” one of the most underwhelming head coaches in franchise history.

Commanders running back Brian Robinson Jr. ran for 87 yards and two touchdowns. QB Sam Howell threw for 299 yards and two scores of his own and Washington didn’t have a single turnover while the Broncos had two.

Where are the playmakers on this defense? We’ve yet to see a game-changing play from safety Justin Simmons, after he tied for the NFL lead in interceptions a season ago. It was nice for Randy Gregory to get an early sack, but that was his only one on the afternoon.

It’s time for these guys to start creating havoc, force more turnovers and get off the field on big third downs. Last year they were a strength, this season they look like a weakness.

The Ugly

Again, this loss isn’t on Wilson, but he also hasn’t elevated the Broncos enough to win either of their first two games. The reality is the Broncos fell at home to the Raiders and Commanders to start the season. That’s an ugly sentence to type out.

And the five wins since the massive investment was made in Wilson, both in terms of the trade package and lucrative contract, aren’t enough. Not by a long-shot.

Those five victories were all unique in their own way. Against the Texans, fans counted down the play clock in embarrassing fashion before Denver prevailed 16-9. They beat the 49ers 11-10 in a game that was universally mocked. A 21-17 victory over the Jaguars happened in London at 7:30 a.m. local time. A 24-15 defeat of the Cardinals was a game Wilson missed. And a 31-28 triumph over the Chargers had interim head coach Jerry Rosburg at the helm.

This whole trade has been ugly if we’re being honest. And with every game the Broncos lose, Paton’s seat has to be getting toastier.

Every bad season will produce a scapegoat or two, and right now he and Wilson are the most likely candidates. It’s continuing to look like perhaps the worst deal and new contract in NFL history.

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