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Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Should Denver move on from Russell Wilson?

Kiz: If “Russ and Sean, a Bromance” was a TV show, network execs would’ve canned it after two weeks of the fall season. So let me start by saying I was wrong about how a veteran NFL coach with a Super Bowl ring could coax 10 victories out of Wilson and earn the Broncos a playoff berth. What startled me almost as much as Denver blowing an 18-point lead to Washington was how critical Payton was of Wilson after the loss. Is their football bromance on the rocks?

Gabriel: Yeah the postgame news conference was surprising in part because of how the game started. Hard to imagine that would have been the tone after Wilson started 5-of-6 for 146 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the early going. But here we are. Payton’s comments are particularly noteworthy after he specifically went after Denver’s operation in and out of the huddle in July when he called Nathaniel Hackett’s 2022 “maybe the worst coaching job in the history of the NFL.” Well, it’s not solved yet. And Payton reiterated Monday the need for everybody — not just Wilson — to be more efficient between plays.

Kiz: Here’s what I don’t get about the 0-2 start. How can Wilson look like an elite NFL quarterback in the opening half of games, then emerge from the locker room after intermission and appear as if he’s forgotten how to play football? My best guess: The offensive line can’t protect him and the cumulative damage from the pass rush takes even more toll on Wilson’s psyche than his body. There’s a growing crisis of confidence at Broncos headquarters, with a QB who can’t fully trust his teammates and a coach who doesn’t appear all that keen on Wilson.

Gabriel: Payton made reference to the pass-rush Sunday. Wilson was sacked five times in the second half against Washington. It wasn’t all on the offensive line, but when teams start to generate pressure, Wilson speeds up and moves off of reads or tries to get out of the pocket more quickly, which only further disjointed things against Washington. All of this is against the backdrop that, through two games, Wilson’s passer rating is 108.5. If that held up over the season, it’d be the third-best mark of his career. It looks good on paper. But nine sacks overall, two turnovers against the Commanders and the late-game issues are problematic. I’m guessing you’ve got another stat, too, eh, Kiz?

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