Nathaniel Hackett Addresses Key Change He’d Like to See From Russell Wilson

Russell Wilson and Nathaniel Hackett

Getty Denver Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett and quarterback Russell Wilson finish a discussion against the Seattle Seahawks.

It’s fair to say that Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos‘ offense has not performed like most expected. So far this season, Denver is averaging just 15.1 points per game on offense which ranks 30th in the NFL and the worst in franchise history through eight games.

One reason why the offense isn’t moving the ball down the field effectively is because of their newly acquired franchise quarterback.

Through seven games, Wilson is completing just 58.8 percent of his passes and has only thrown six touchdowns to four interceptions. Wilson is missing one part of his game this season and that’s his running ability.

During this season, Wilson has just 25 rushing attempts for 113 yards and one touchdown. This ranks as the third lowest rushing attempts in his first seven games of a season for his career

Over the last two years, Wilson’s rushing numbers have dropped dramatically during his first seven games. In 2020, Wilson took off running 35 times for 260 yards. Last season Wilson slowed down to just 24 rushing attempts through the first seven games and rushed for 11 less yards than his 2022 season.

Hackett Wants Wilson to Run More

This year, Denver’s $245 million man is averaging just 3.6 rushing attempts per game which is on pace for the second-worst of his career. At 16.1 rush yards per game, Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett wants Wilson to run more to make plays.

“I think you see when he starts doing some of that stuff it makes him a major threat both be able to convert with his legs and scramble and throw the ball. So we just need to be sure he’s completely being efficient and utilizing his legs and at the same time completing them (passes) when they’re there,” Hackett said.

The first-year head coach also mentioned how much quarterbacks are running in today’s NFL and how more play calls are designed for quarterbacks to be more mobile.

“Watching a lot of games just this past weekend, you see there’s certain play designs that are there and it’s great and all of a sudden a lot of the time it’s not there and they’re able to make plays.”

With more quarterbacks being mobile, Wilson has always been considered one of the best scramblers in the NFL. This season, Wilson currently ranks 13th in rushing yards among quarterbacks. Of those 12 passers ahead of him, Daniel Jones, Trevor Lawrence, Geno Smith, Jacoby Brissett, and Joe Burrow surpisingly all have more yards on the ground than Wilson.

Hackett did praise Wilson for being mobile against the Jacksonville Jaguars last game in London, “He did a really good job using his legs a couple of times this past game, I think that’s always important.”

Vrabel Praised Wilson’s Scrambling Ability

The Broncos will face a tough challenge this week as they head to Nashville to take on the 5-3 Tennessee Titans.

When speaking to the local media, Tennessee’s head coach Mike Vrabel talked about how Denver’s offense is starting to find a rhythm.

Vrabel also praised Wilson’s scrambling ability, “We play another QB this week in Russell Wilson who can break down a defense with his legs.”

Last season, Wilson’s Seahawks hosted the Titans and had to face off against Vrabel’s top-10 scoring defense.

In that game, Wilson only took off running three times for 16 yards, but had a great day throwing the football. Completing 70.9 percent of his passes, Wilson totaled up 343 yards in the air and threw a pair of touchdowns.

Seattle did happen to lose in overtime to Tennessee as Wilson was sacked three times.

Wilson’s offensive line will have a big challenge this week facing the Titans. Denver will have to protect Wilson without their All-Pro left tackle Garett Bolles and they’ll be without veteran center Lloyd Cushenberry.

Against the Chiefs on Sunday night, the Titans defense found a way to sack Patrick Mahomes a total of four times. Tennessee’s defensive line was so powerful up the middle, they forced Mahomes to take off running for his season-high, six times for 63 yards and a touchdown.

It’s safe to say that if the Broncos are going to continue to turn their season around this week in the “Music City,” they’re going to need Wilson to make plays with his legs.