Does Russell Wilson Really Make Denver Better?

Russell Wilson

The short answer to this question is yes. The Broncos have upgraded the most important position in the NFL by adding Russell Wilson this offseason.

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But, and this is a very important but, in a loaded AFC West, he doesn’t close the gap enough to put Denver at the top of the division or even into the playoffs.

Last season with Teddy Bridgewater as the primary quarterback, the Broncos finished 24th on Cold, Hard Football Facts Scoreability Index. But not all of that is on Bridgewater. He’s not a world beater, but he is a solid and experienced quarterback who had the Broncos ranking significantly higher in the Cold, Hard Football Facts stat, Real Quarterback Rating.

Bridewater’s quarterback rating in 2021 was just behind Justin Herbert. His interception rate was better than Tom Brady, Patrick Mahomes, and Josh Allen, and his completion percentage was significantly higher than his replacement, Russell Wilson.

Overrating the Broncos Wide Receivers

If Tim Patrick was healthy we’d say something different about the Broncos’ wide receiver room. But he is out for the season, meaning that the juice of the unit must be provided by Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy.

In 2019, Sutton was a breakout star, and the future looked bright. But his 2020 was lost to a torn ACL, and his return last year was a major disappointment. The potential for a Sutton rebound is there, but it’s far from a certainty. A permanent loss in speed and cutting ability is not uncommon for his type of injury.

The same potential but uncertainty revolves around Denver’s other top pass catcher, Jerry Jeudy. He missed seven games in 2021, so his overall stats took a dip. But the real concern is his yards per catch, which dropped from 16.5 to 12.3. He also didn’t find the end zone in any of his 10 games last year.

Russell Wilson’s Decline

The Seahawks were forced to play Geno Smith last year in place of an injured Russell Wilson, and Wilson himself played a number of games injured. So to get a sense of how Russell Wilson has been trending over the previous few years, we will again look at Cold, Hard Football Facts, and the unique performance stats they offer that help guide NFL bettors.

In 2020, a healthy Russell Wilson who played all 16 games, had Seattle as the 18th ranked team in Real Passing Yds/Attempt. That same year they ranked 10th in Real Quarterback Rating.

Going back to 2019, Seattle ranked fifth in Real Quarterback Rating and 10th in Real Passing Yds/Attempt. In 2018 they were also top-10 in both stats. He clearly took a dip in 2020.

Russell Wilson turns 34 in November, which is by no means ancient, but he’s learning a new offense, new teammates, and he’s coming off the first season in which he missed games due to injury. He’s also now been sacked 427 times in his 10 seasons. Compare his 42.7 sacks per season to Tom Brady’s 27.1, and his longevity, or Josh Allen’s 29.5, and his style of play.

All of it points to the Broncos underachieving in a very tough division.


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