BRONCOS

Russell Wilson ‘below average’ in operating offense, says NFL on FOX’s Mark Schlereth

Jan 5, 2024, 1:57 PM | Updated: 2:02 pm

Russell Wilson can still do things well beyond the structure of play design. Even detractors can admit that.

But when it comes to operating an offense on schedule, Denver Sports/104.3 The Fan and NFL on Fox analyst Mark Schlereth doesn’t see much to like in the deposed Broncos’ starter’s play.

“I’m just telling you what the film says. And the film says he is not very good — well, he’s beyond ‘not good,’ he’s below-average — in operating an offense,” Schlereth said. “Now, if you want to talk about his off-schedule ability, yeah, his off-schedule ability is good. But it’s not where it used to be.”

And Schlereth — who spent most of his playing career in the precise, tightly-constructed and highly effective offenses guided by Joe Gibbs and Mike Shanahan — believes that the off-schedule work isn’t enough to balance out what’s missing within play structure.

“The scales of justice will tell you that there are more bad things than happen than good things when he’s playing off-schedule,” Schlereth insisted. “So, listen, you can put up with it if there’s eight unbelievable plays and only four really bad plays. But when it becomes four really unbelievable plays and eight really bad plays, you know what? You’re not gonna win consistently.”

And another factor that comes into Schlereth’s view of Russell Wilson is the quarterback’s age. Wilson turned 35 in November.

“And if you play the game off-schedule — that’s the way you play the game, and that’s the way he does play the game — if you play the game that way and you start to lose athleticism — and oh, by the way, maybe you don’t have the dynamic players that you need or you don’t use them because you’re so locked in on one dude that your offense and your team is going to suffer the consequences,” Schlereth said.

WITH AN “ON-SCHEDULE” QB, SCHLERETH BELIEVES BRONCOS WOULD BE A PLAYOFF TEAM

Denver will miss the postseason by anywhere from a tiebreaker to two games. And Schlereth believes a quarterback who operated on schedule could have made all the difference.

“This would be a playoff team with a quarterback that could operate on-schedule. Done, period, the end. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it,” Schlereth said.

“They’ve got a good enough defense. They’ve got a good enough team in the environment of the NFL as it’s currently constructed to be a playoff team — if they had a quarterback that could operate consistently on-schedule. End of story. And they don’t. And therefore, they’re not going to the playoffs.

Schlereth, who co-hosts “Schlereth and Evans” on Denver Sports/104.3 The Fan, hasn’t minced words about his thoughts regarding the ability of Russell Wilson to run Sean Payton’s offense. Last month, in the wake of Wilson’s three-interception game in the Broncos’ loss to Houston, Schlereth described Wilson’s play as “awful.”

“I could get a quarterback from Smoky Hill High School to do what Russ does,” Schlereth said four weeks ago.

This week, Schlereth even dropped a reference to Tim Tebow — although not directly comparing the playing style of the polarizing former Broncos quarterback with Wilson.

“It’s not Russ-bashing. This is very Tebow-esque. There’s a Tebow-esque aspect to telling the truth about Russ,” Schlereth said. “Tebow stunk. He’s one of the world’s greatest people — and I’ve done a couple of appearances with him. I love Tebow. I love him. As a quarterback, he was awful.

“And Russ is not good. He’s not. And I don’t know what you guys have been watching the last two years. I mean, I know you don’t hold anyone accountable — except the coach. Would you like to fire another coach? Is that what you would like? Because I admit the coaching has not been good — but the coaching is not our issue.”

And based on the Broncos’ decisions in recent weeks, clearly they think the issue is at quarterback. And thus, with Jarrett Stidham poised to make a second-straight start, they sit squarely in the quarterback market once again.

But for now, Schlereth thinks Stidham is a better option than Russell Wilson, a nine-time Pro Bowler.

“I will guarantee you one thing. If Russ would have played in that game (Dec. 31 against the Chargers), he would have taken seven sacks,” Schlereth said. “I thought Stidham operationally was much better, and then pocket awareness. …

“… [Stidham] put the ball where it was supposed to go and avoided sacks. That, in and of itself right there — just that aspect, the operational aspect — was much better under Stidham than it has been under Russ. Sorry.”

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Russell Wilson ‘below average’ in operating offense, says NFL on FOX’s Mark Schlereth