ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Russell Wilson isn’t going to let a 3-10 record change his goals.
“The mission is still the same, and that’s to help bring Super Bowls to Denver,” Wilson said Wednesday.
As of now, Wilson seems to be lightyears away from another Lombardi Trophy.
The 34-year-old quarterback is on pace to set career lows in completion percentage, touchdowns, touchdown-to-interception ratio, quarterback rating, yards per attempt, air yards per attempt, QBR, sacks, net yards per attempt and touchdown percentage.
The other numbers aren’t great either, especially the 10 losses in 13 starts. His only other losing record in a season was a 6-8 campaign last year in Seattle.
“You have dark days sometimes,” Wilson said. “It’s been a tough year in a lot of ways, physically and just trying to score more touchdowns. [I’m] used to scoring a lot of touchdowns and winning a lot of games, and that hasn’t happened. It’s the first time it’s been like this.”
If the Broncos don’t win another game, they’ll tie the 2010 Broncos for the franchise’s fewest wins since 1982. They won’t be favored in either game. Denver has never finished last in the NFL in scoring but is 32nd of 32 teams with two weeks to play.
Wilson is far from the only person to blame for the Broncos’ struggles—18 players are on injured reserve, a dozen others have had stints on IR, the defense has collapsed in big moments, the running game has hardly gotten off the ground, the special teams are worst in the NFL by DVOA, general manager George Paton was willing to fall on the sword and take the blame for the season on Tuesday—but Wilson is probably one of the two biggest problems for the 2022 Broncos.
The other one of those two problems was first-year head coach Nathaniel Hackett, who was fired on Monday, the day after the Broncos lost 51-14 to the second-lowest-scoring offense in the NFL on national TV on Christmas Day. Wilson was willing to take a piece of the blame for Hackett’s dismissal.
“It’s been a crazy season [with a] ton of injuries and a ton of everything else, but the reality is that I wish I could have played better for him, too,” Wilson said. “I wish I could have played at the standard and the level that I have always played at and know how to play at.”
Jerry Rosburg, who joined the Broncos as a senior assistant in September, will serve as the interim head coach. But Rosberg, who turned 67 last month, is unlikely to be the long-term solution.
The Broncos are in the process of starting their fourth coaching search in seven years, and a few potential candidates (including Jim Harbaugh and Sean Payton) look like grand-slam hires. But will they choose Denver?
The Broncos will take on the biggest dead salary cap hit in NFL history if they cut Wilson at any point before 2026. Their hands are tied; barring an unimaginable decision to strip the roster in order to cut costs and pay a hefty bill, Russell Wilson is the Broncos’ quarterback for the foreseeable future.
The men leading the charge to replace Hackett aren’t worried that Wilson’s contract will scare coaches away. General manager George Paton said Wilson is “fixable” and owner and CEO Greg Penner expects improvement in 2023.
“We saw some glimpses [of Wilson’s potential] in the last few weeks,” Penner said. “He knows he can play better. We know he can play better, and we know he will do the right work in the offseason to be ready for next year.”
Fixing Wilson isn’t the sole goal of the coaching search, though.
“All three phases are what we want our coach to be an expert in, not just one person,” he said.
For what it’s worth, Wilson thinks he’ll be back better than ever next season.
“We have to be better and that starts with me,” he said. “I’m looking forward to turning this thing around and making it special. It’s going to make the hard days and the dark days—which we are in some of those right now—more worthwhile.”
Wilson thinks the turnaround can come quickly.
“We all want to play at the highest level,” Wilson said. “That’s the name of the game—to be world class and to win a world championship.”