Mile High Sadness | What’s Wrong With The Denver Broncos?
The Denver Broncos entered the 2022-23 campaign hoping to return to the playoffs for the first time since winning Super Bowl 50.
Russell Wilson was acquired to be the franchise quarterback they have lacked since Peyton Manning retired, while Nathaniel Hackett was hired to piece together an offense with tons of talent like he did in Green Bay.
What resulted could be described as nothing less than a disaster. The Broncos are 3-8 and have an offense averaging a league-worst 14.3 points per game.
So what is wrong with the Broncos? Well, it starts with Russell Wilson. To say Wilson has struggled would be an understatement.
Wilson is on pace to set new career lows in passing yards, touchdowns, quarterback rating and rushing yards. In addition, Wilson has fewer touchdown passes than Carson Wentz, and Wentz hasn’t played since Week 6!
The red zone is where Wilson has struggled the most this season. In his last five seasons in Seattle, Wilson was first in quarterback rating when in the red zone. This year, Wilson's rating in the red zone is an abysmal 6.3.
To top it off, Wilson's catchphrase of “ Broncos Country, let’s ride!” has been used to mock him and the Broncos organization by everyone, including all-pro kicker Justin Tucker who mocked Wilson by saying, “Ravens Flock, let's fly!”
It is not just the fans who are frustrated with Wilson; his teammates are as well.
During the fourth quarter of Sunday’s loss to the Carolina Panthers, cameras captured Denver Broncos defensive lineman Mike Purcell screaming at Wilson over what was described postgame as frustration. Purcell’s reaction epitomizes how the Wilson experiment has gone in Denver.
The other huge factor is Nathaniel Hackett. The Broncos hired Hackett to help attract Aaron Rodgers to Denver, but once Rodgers decided to stay in Green Bay, Hackett was left to lead a team without the player that made him look so great.
Hackett’s tenure, like Wilson’s, has been a disaster. His struggles with clock management and situational play calling were so bad that the Broncos had to hire Jerry Rosburg as an assistant to help Hackett.
Even with Hackett focusing primarily on playcalling, the Broncos still struggled so much on offense that he delegated play-calling duties to quarterbacks coach Klint Kubiak.
Another critical factor that can’t be overlooked is the injury bug that struck the Broncos. Second-year running back Javonte Williams tore his ACL in Week 4, while wide receivers Jerry Judy and K.J. Hamler have missed multiple games due to various ailments.
On the offensive line, starters Lloyd Cushenberry, Billy Turner and Garett Bolles have all been placed on injured reserve. While on defense, Randy Gregory, Ronald Darby and Justin Simmons have missed time as well.
Broncos fans can only hope that brighter days are ahead, and like their previous two franchise quarterbacks, Wilson can bring a Lombardi Trophy back to the Mile High City.
Ben Palillo is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, please email email@example.com.