Broncos' Russell Wilson: 'I'm built for the good times and the tough times'

Quarterback remains positive as offense looks to gain footing
Russell Wilson
Posted at 8:46 AM, Oct 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-14 10:46:55-04

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The criticism comes from all directions and on all platforms. Everybody blames Russell Wilson. The 2-3 start? His fault. The offense averaging 15 points per game? On him. The red-faced red zone? At his doorstep.

It's not true, of course. The Broncos offense remains abysmal because of a confluence of factors — coach Nathaniel Hackett and Wilson not finding a fit in their hybrid attack, the receivers off time on routes, ten dropped passes and critical injuries to running back Javonte Williams and receiver Tim Patrick.

Yes, Wilson deserves blame for the Colts' loss. And he accepted it. A week later, I asked him about the vitriol focused in his direction.

"For me, I can handle it. I am built for it. I'm built for the good times and the tough times. Really, how you get out of it as a team is that we continue to keep building and focusing on today. Nothing else matters. Today has got to be the best day we’ve had so far," said Wilson, who is on pace for a career low 14 touchdown passes. "And that will be no matter what our record is. If we were 5-0, which could have had a chance to be that, potentially."

Listening to Wilson speak Thursday brought to mind Russian Joseph Brodsky's poem "On Love" and the memorable line: "For darkness restores what the light cannot repair."

Wilson believes in his team and the offense. While there are fixes that can be made — leaning on Wilson's strengths of a moving pocket, mobility and less focus on portraying Drew Brees — there are limitations. The type of improvement the Broncos need requires believing in what cannot be seen either through faith or imagination.

Wilson's experience with adversity has left him prepared for this moment. The issue is that the Broncos don't have the luxury of patience. If they don't win two of their next three games — reaching the bye at 4-4 — it's hard to see a path of a winning record, let alone the first playoff berth since Super Bowl 50 with two contests remaining against the Chiefs and road games at the Titans, Ravens and Rams.

"I’ve had tough times. You ask me how tough these times are. When people ask me that question, I always think about my dad because he was on his deathbed, you know. And we’re talking about football and what I love to do," Wilson said. "There’s a lot of season left. A lot of greatness in store. I’ve done it before, and I’m going to do it again."

Wilson insisted he will play Monday night against the Chargers, despite dealing with a sore right throwing shoulder. The injury is located in such a way that it does not appear to be affecting his velocity or accuracy in practice. He received a PRP injection on Friday after visiting with Dodgers and Rams team physician Neal ElAttrache, an exam designed to get a better read on the injury that was sustained when Wilson dived and reached out for extra yards in the first half against the Raiders.

While blaming Wilson is easy, the truth is he played well enough to win in losses to the Seahawks and Raiders. There are problems all around him. The timing of receivers' routes remains inconsistent, if not off, the tight end is often a rumor — will rookie Greg Dulcich be active and contribute? — and the rushing attack has dropped to 19th overall (112.6).

It has led to the Broncos dealing with a lack of first down efficiency, lamented Hackett. The Broncos rank fourth worst on first down, which has translated to a plethora of third-and-longs.

"Our feast and famine has really hurt us," said Hackett. "It has set us back. Once you get a big chunk, you end up setting yourself back for certain reasons. It's not necessarily one person. It's a combination of everybody together. For us, we are going to coach the fundamentals, the basics, capitalize on the simple things and not feel like we have to do something more and overthink things. As these guys work together and play together, I think its' going to get better. But right now, first down efficiency is what is really killing us."

The Broncos' offensive line remains a mystery. Calvin Anderson is the favorite to start at left tackle with Cam Fleming staying at right tackle. If Billy Turner is healthy, he is a candidate to play at right tackle or possibly even right guard where Graham Glasgow has struggled filling in for Quinn Meinerz. Meinerz has been out the past four weeks with a hamstring injury, but is practicing this week on a limited basis. Left guard Dalton Risner did not practice on Thursday after his back flared up. ...

The respect for Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert is real. Bradley Chubb told Denver7 he enjoys playing against him as much as anyone. Herbert presents a challenge with his arm and feet and has ten touchdowns with only two picks. ...

The Chargers went from averaging 64 yards rushing per game to 99.2 after Eaton's own Austin Ekeler exploded for 173 yards on 16 carries last week.