The 2022 season was entirely forgettable for the Denver Broncos and superstar quarterback Russell Wilson. With new Sean Payton now running the show, Wilson is trying to move on from 2022 — only the national media won’t let him.
In a debate over Wilson’s future on the August 29 episode of “Undisputed,” Skip Bayless said Payton would “get the very best out of Russell Wilson at this stage and age.” Cohost Richard Sherman, a former Seahawks teammate of Wilson’s, had a bleaker perspective.
“There’s a lot of pressure on it, a whole lot of pressure,” Sherman said. “This is his legacy on the line at this point.”
Coming to the Broncos from the Seahawks to play in a tough division with quarterbacks like Justin Herbert and Patrick Mahomes could’ve given Wilson the chance “to cement his legacy in the biggest of ways,” Sherman noted. Instead, the 2022 Broncos offense finished with a league-worst 16.9 points per game.
Denver’s wide receiver room has been plagued by injuries this offseason. Tim Patrick was lost for the second consecutive year on July 31 while Jerry Jeudy will miss several weeks because of a hamstring issue. Sherman said those losses will prove too much for Wilson to overcome.
“He’s losing his No. 2 and No. 3 receivers,” Sherman said. “He still has his No. 1 receiver, but that offensive line, which was an Achilles heel for this team last year, is the same, if not worse. Garrett Bolles is coming off an injury. … They still have a fantastic defensive front, a [great] secondary and a great [defensive] team. But I don’t see Sean Payton being able to turn this around for him with all of these obstacles.”
There were mile-high expectations in Denver after the team acquired quarterback Russell Wilson from the Seattle Seahawks in March 2022. Instead, Wilson never found a rhythm with his new team, finishing 2022 with career worsts in passing touchdowns (16) and completion percentage (60.5%).
Several Analysts Predict Midseason Benching for Russell Wilson in 2023
Sherman is far from the only analyst to be down on Wilson in 2023. Former New York Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum said he expected the QB to be on a short leash with Payton.
“I would be shocked if Russell Wilson was the starter for 17 games this season, and here’s why. The conversations that Sean Payton is having with ownership year is about culture and accountability; it’s Bill Parcells’ approach,” Tannenbaum said on the August 24 episode of “Get Up”. “He’s going to see Russell Wilson as an opportunity to hold players accountable, and when there’s a bump in the road, what’s gonna happen is — he’s really talking to Jerry Jeudy, Garrett Boles, the young nucleus of this team, to say, ‘The standard is the standard,’ and if I bench Russell Wilson, I can bench you.”
Sean Payton Remains High on Russell Wilson Despite Criticism
Despite the frequent criticisms of Wilson, Payton remains high on the quarterback he inherited. Payton spoke with Peter King of NBC Sports during training camp to explain what he expects out of Wilson this season.
“I would say this: He’s gonna be a lot closer to those 2021 numbers than he was the 2022 numbers,” Payton said, according to King. “The arm talent and the throws down the field. He’s always thrown a really good deep ball. But I do think he’s moving a lot better. And you know there’s something powerful about a guy with a chip on his shoulder.”
Payton has done everything to support his new QB ever since he arrived in Denver. The most glaring example was pinning the 2022 offensive struggles on former head coach Nathaniel Hackett.
Broncos fans will get to see whether Wilson has indeed moved on from last season’s struggles when Denver opens the 2023 campaign against the Las Vegas Raiders on September 10.