The 2022 season wasn’t the type of season that most people expected for the Denver Broncos. Expectations were that the Broncos could be fighting for a playoff spot to end their previous six-year draught, but that wasn’t the case.
Denver’s quarterback Russell Wilson was expected to have great season under first-time head coach Nathaniel Hackett, but instead, Wilson ended up getting his leader fired and turned a lot of heads the wrong way with his play.
“Denver has the best tradition, and the new owners seem aggressive and willing to spend, but I think Wilson is washed, and the lack of draft capital is holding them back. The defense is very good, but Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert aren’t going anywhere in that division,” an NFL executive told Mike Sando of The Athletic.
On November 28, a scouting director told Heavy, “Wilson looks done, but they’re married to him, so they need to build around him for next year. But good luck getting free agents.”
In the offseason, the Broncos gave Wilson a five-year extension worth $245 million with $165 million guaranteed.
Russell Wilson’s Numbers Went Up After Hackett’s Fire
When Hackett was hired by the Broncos, there was hope that his west coast offense would mix well with the kind of offense that Wilson wanted to run.
Instead, that wasn’t the case.
Wilson’s passing numbers hit career lows forcing people to wonder if the Broncos made not only a mistake for hiring Hackett, but for trading for Wilson.
During the 13 games that Wilson played under Hackett, the former Super Bowl winning quarterback completed a career low, 60 percent of his passes for an average of just 232.2 yards per game.
Wilson threw just 12 touchdowns in those 13 games and had only two multi-touchdown games. The former Seahawk gun-slinger was intercepted nine times.
In the final two games of the season, Wilson completed nearly 63 percent of his passes for an average of 252.5 passing yards per game.
Wilson also threw four touchdowns including three in the final game against the Los Angeles Chargers and his passer rating jumped from 82.6 to 96.5.
Sean Payton Knows How to Fix Wilson
After the Broncos started the season off with a 2-2 overall record, former New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton jumped on “The Herd With Colin Cowherd” in October and explained that Wilson can be fixed.
“You correct flaws immediately, and then we don’t worry about how long the process is going to take,” Payton said. “In other words, I’d want a cut-up today of all of Russell’s pass plays of 30 or more yards from the field and I’d want to see, ‘Are there some schemes that he felt very comfortable with?’”
Payton also mentioned that he would like to see what Wilson did successful in Seattle.
“I know that they did a great job in Seattle of bringing him off of a naked-boot and then pulling up,” Payton said. “And then we all saw that throwback to [Tyler] Lockett across the field where the ball traveled 60 yards in the air.”
The former Super Bowl winning head coach would also want to see the touchdowns that Wilson has thrown in the red zone.
“I’d want to look at another film of his red zone touchdown passes inside the 20,” Payton said. “What I’m asking for from assistants is, I’m asking for some of his greatest hits, and to make sure that we have those song lyrics available, and if not, let’s put them in.”
As the season ended with Wilson playing well, there was proof that after all the injuries, getting to a more creative play caller, and an improved offensive line, there is hope that Wilson can play like he did in Seattle.
Maybe Payton could be that missing piece that Denver needs.