With Denver sitting at 3-5 entering their Week 9 bye, hope has filled the air throughout the Mile High City. One NFL writer says the Broncos must continue evaluating their roster to capitalize on their landmark win.
Alex Ballentine of Bleacher Report believes head coach Sean Payton should consider benching quarterback Russell Wilson. Ballentine says Wilson has “staved this conversation off for now” but cautions he “isn’t out of the woods yet.”
“Wilson can hardly be credited for the 24-9 win over the Chiefs,” Ballentine wrote in a column published November 1. “It wasn’t like we saw the vintage version of the former Seahawk or they let Russ cook.”
Wilson threw three touchdowns in the 15-point win. However, the Broncos’ quarterback threw for 210 yards in two games against the Chiefs. During a primetime loss to Kansas City in Week 6, Wilson was held to just 95 yards passing.
Ballentine credits Denver’s defense and a “good enough” running game that led to the shocking win. If not for their lack of an “inspiring backup,” the NFL writer would have the Broncos benching Wilson sooner.
“Jarrett Stidham showed he has a limited upside with the Raiders last season and calling up Ben DiNucci from the practice squad isn’t enticing either. However, it would be worth getting a look at both of them if the Broncos don’t maintain this momentum,” Ballentine wrote.
Ballentine also said, “it would be wise to throw Stidham into the lineup” if Denver is looking to secure a top draft pick.
Payton Addresses Wilson’s Ability to Avoiding Sacks
There is zero doubt that Wilson has statistically improved with Payton at the helm. Entering Week 9, Wilson ranks fourth in the NFL in TD passes (16) and QB rating (101.7).
While the results have not always led to wins, his production is a step up from his disastrous 2022 campaign. One flaw Payton has failed to coach out of Wilson has been his lack of getting the ball out on time. Payton addressed the topic and refused to pin all the blame on his quarterback.
“I think it’s too hard to clump,” Payton told reporters on October 30. “There are certain routes that you just know, ‘Hey, we’re going to be a little bit more aggressive down the field.’ That means the sack probability rate would go up a little bit. There are certain routes from a timing standpoint that we know the ball is coming out and it should never be a sack.”
During the 2022 season, Wilson took a career-high 55 sacks in 15 games. Through eight games in 2023, Wilson has taken 26 sacks, the third-highest total in the league.
Per Next Gen stats, Wilson has taken the third-most sacks despite having the third-longest time-to-throw (3.03 seconds). Payton still came to the star’s defense and praised him for doing what was asked of him.
“A lot of it has to do with the play design and what we’re trying to accomplish. ‘Russ’ has been smart relative to those decisions,” Payton said.
Broncos’ Top Wide Receiver on Pace to Set Career-High Under Payton
Wide receiver Courtland Sutton tied a career-high in touchdown receptions in the win over Kansas City.
Sutton has caught six touchdowns through eight games, tying his career mark set during his 2019 Pro Bowl campaign. He is also tied for third in the NFL in touchdown catches, along with Stefon Diggs and Mark Andrews.
On the season, Sutton has caught 33 of his 46 targets for 380 yards. His 71.1 percent catch rate is the highest of his career, beating out his previous high of 59.2 percent, set in 2021.
Sutton has caught a touchdown in six of eight games this season. He is on pace for 13 touchdown receptions, according to ESPN.