While I certainly understand the optimism swirling around the Mike High City this week, I’d hold off on reserving a hotel room in Glendale, Arizona, for Super Bowl LVII. Sure, Wilson is a franchise player with MVP potential, but he takes a village to help a quarterback win at the highest level.
Wilson, who guided the Seahawks to eight postseason appearances and one Super Bowl title during his decade in Seattle, is joining a roster that is widely viewed as an upgrade in 2022. Sure, the Broncos have intriguing pieces in place on both sides of the ball , but this team is more potential than production at this point.
For instance, the hyped-up receiving corps that has been lauded as “special” in some corners of the football world really features a one-time Pro Bowler (Courtland Sutton) and a trio of theoretical difference makers (Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick and KJ Hamler) without a single 900-yard season among them. Is that crew really an upgrade over Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf? Those two have understood one of the best big-play duos in football over the past three years, and their explosive play-making ability enhanced Wilson’s deep-ball savvy in Seattle. That does not mean the Broncos’ quartet can’t emerge with No. 3 under center, but it is nothing more than a projection at this point.
Studying Denver’s offensive line, Broncos fans should have serious concerns about the unit’s ability to keep Wilson upright and protected in the pocket. Denver surrendered 40 sacks in 2021, only six fewer than the Seahawks’ much-maligned front allowed. With O-line wizard Mike Munchak no longer around to tutor Denver’s unit — particularly Garett Bolles, who significantly improved with Munchak as his position coach — the Broncos’ front line could take a step back as it transitions into a new offensive scheme.
Speaking of that new scheme, Wilson must adjust to Nathaniel Hackett. To his credit, the Broncos’ new head coach has a strong reputation for tailoring his play calls to his quarterbacks, accentuating their strengths and masking weaknesses. This maximizes performance and production (SEE: Blake Bortles in 2017). With Wilson, Hackett must tweak his offensive scheme to showcase the veteran’s effectiveness as a deep-ball thrower. That should result in more vertical routes and deep crossers off play-action, enabling Russ to unleash his patented rainbows over the top of the defense. That said, Denver will need to have an answer for the two-deep coverages that have stymied Wilson over the past few years. The 10-year veteran has lacked the patience, discipline and rhythm to efficiently shred umbrella coverage, and his Achilles heel could lead to problems for the Broncos down the road. Hackett and Wilson must craft a plan that enables the veteran to retain his aggressiveness while performing at an efficient rate from the pocket.
This is a critical part of the Broncos’ winning equation, particularly in an AFC West that features outstanding quarterbacks at every turn. Wilson must outplay Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert and Derek Carr to climb to the top of the division, and his efficiency could be the deciding factor in close games against any of the aforementioned gunslingers.