The Broncos can’t move forward with Russell Wilson after this season
Nov 2, 2023, 5:43 AM | Updated: 10:40 am
A long time ago, I learned to get ahead in this business, I would need to know what I don’t know. I decided the best thing to do was to talk to and listen to people who did know so I would become informed even though I didn’t “play the game.”
I followed that advice again this week. In the process, I came to the conclusion Russell Wilson can’t be the Broncos quarterback again next year.
Earlier this week during the morning show, I asked Mark Schlereth to look at the coach’s film from the Kansas City game. His instructions were to see if Wilson was making good decisions and getting the ball out quickly. Like a lot of you, I was wondering why it seems Russ holds onto the ball too long. Is it guys not getting open?
Mark showed me a number of plays where the ball did not come out quickly and Russ resorted to scrambling. What was clear to me was there were examples where Russ had a chance to “throw a guy open” even though it appeared the man was covered.
For example, Wilson’s first pass attempt of the game. First drive. Broncos were inside the Chiefs’ red zone. Wilson dropped back to pass. Tight end Adam Trautman ran a quick slant to the middle of the field. Trautman ran a good route. He instantly had his man “stacked,” meaning he had his guy behind him-on his back. At that moment, by NFL standards, Trautman was open.
Helping the situation was the safety had left the middle of the field to cover Courtland Sutton on the other side of the formation. At that precise moment, Wilson had a clear opportunity to throw where Trautman was going to be open. If he throws the ball out in front of Trautman with a little air under it, it’s a touchdown. Trautman wasn’t open per se, but for an above average NFL passer, he was wide open. Russ saw it, didn’t feel Trautman was open enough, pulled the ball down and took off scrambling to his right.
On Wednesday, I asked Joel Klatt, a former quarterback about “throwing guys open.” We talked about anticipating throws and creating windows to throw into. I asked him if a QB like Russ hasn’t figured that skill out by this point in his career, will he ever? Klatt emphatically said no.
So here’s where I’m at with Russ. He has said he wants to be more like Drew Brees in the second half of his career. He wanted Sean Payton to be his coach because he coached Brees. Wilson knows as he gets older and his athleticism wanes, he needs to be more of a precision passer. Problem is, what I saw and heard this week from experts was that’s unlikely to happen.
What are we left with? What’s the point in continuing this experiment beyond this season?
I doubt Payton wants to continue to coach a QB that doesn’t fit his profile of what he wants in an NFL passer. Better to work with and develop a younger QB that Payton sees potential in. Maybe that’s a Jarrett Stidham, or a free agent QB, or likely a drafted QB.
Whatever that direction, it shouldn’t include Russell Wilson.