Kicking off the 2023 season for the Denver Broncos didn’t go as planned as they lost their season opener to their longtime division rival, Las Vegas Raiders.
With the hiring of head coach Sean Payton, there was some optimism that the worst offense from a year ago would improve, but that wasn’t the case in Week 1.
“I think the biggest thing is, we had six possessions. I thought we did well on pretty much all of them. I think the biggest thing is just finding one more play here.”
On the six possessions, the Broncos only scored 16 points and were shutout in the third quarter.
Wilson was then asked if the Raiders did anything to slow down the Broncos’ offense in the second half.
“Not necessarily, I think the best thing we can do is make one more play and I think that gives us a chance.”
After the first half, Denver scored 13 before scoring just three in the fourth quarter.
Broncos Were Missing 2 Weapons on Offense
Entering the game, the Broncos knew they were going to be without wide receiver Jerry Jeudy, who led the team last year with six receiving touchdowns in 2022.
With their former first-round pick out of the lineup, Denver was forced to activate, receivers Lil’Jordan Humphrey and Phillip Dorsett off the practice squad.
Humphrey was signed in the offseason because of his relationship with Payton, but Dorsett just signed to Denver’s practice squad after the preseason ended.
This meant that the Broncos had to force on Courtland Sutton, Brandon Johnson, and rookie wide out Marvin Mims Jr.
Against the Raiders, none of the Broncos receivers led the team in receiving yards. Running back Samaje Perine and tight end Adam Trautman led this with both having 37 and 34 yards.
Although Sutton and Humphrey each caught a touchdown, the Broncos also lost their top receiving tight end in Greg Dulcich as well with a hamstring injury.
“Greg is definitely a threat in the passing game and running game, but I think the passing game with what he can do,” Wilson said. “I think he’s such a play maker in Dulcich with some of the things that he can do.”
Despite both weapons missing, Wilson still thinks Denver should be 1-0 after today.
“Obviously having Dulcich and Jerry not in there, but I still think at the end of the day we should’ve won that game.”
Dulcich finished the game with two catches for 22 yards and failed to reach the endzone.
Does Wilson Feel Better in Payton’s Offense Than Hackett’s?
Last season, Wilson had career lows in passing touchdowns and completion percentage, under former Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett. After Hackett was fired, Wilson’s average numbers went up during the final two games of the season, but were still nowhere near what his success was like in Seattle.
In 2022, Denver finished the season with 16.9 points per game which ranked dead last in the NFL. Ironically, in Denver’s first game under Payton, the Broncos scored just 16 points.
In the first half against the Raiders, Wilson looked like a new quarterback under Payton and had success throwing two touchdown passes and gave the Broncos a 13-10 lead going into half time.
After his first half success, Wilson struggled in the second half and finished the game with just 177 yards while completing 79 percent of his passes.
“I think the relationship that Sean [Payton] and I have, understanding offensively of what we want to do. I think the creativity, I think the diligence of all the coaches and us players as a collective effort,” Wilson said after he was asked how comfortable he feels in this offense.
“I feel great, you know the only that’s disappointing is we that we didn’t come up with a win tonight.”
Everyone must remember is that Wilson is playing in his third system in three years, so there might be some growing pains early on this season.