Upgrade Your Fandom

Join the Ultimate DNVR Sports Community!

Why some Broncos would rather face Tom Brady than Russell Wilson

Zac Stevens Avatar
September 6, 2018

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — “Let me face Tom Brady,” said no defensive player ever.


Not so fast.

“I hate playing quarterbacks that are mobile and quick because you would love — guys like Tom [Brady],” Shane Ray said as he oddly lit up talking about facing the future Hall of Fame quarterback, “Tom’s going to sit in there, if you get to him, he’s going to go down. He’s going to go down.

Wilson, on the other hand, won’t just go down, or otherwise put, pull a self-sack.

“Russell’s elite. Nobody likes playing Russell Wilson,” Von Miller said countless times on Thursday. “He’s just elite. Best of the best. As a pass rusher, you want a guy that when you get to him, and you touch him, he’ll lay down for you. Russell is the complete opposite. Nobody likes playing Russell Wilson. It’s going to be a tough one for us this weekend.”

In terms of the best mobile quarterbacks, there’s Deshaun Watson, Cam Newton, and even Carson Wentz. And then there’s Russell Wilson.

“He’s the best,” Denver Broncos’ head coach Vance Joseph matter-of-factly stated. “He’s the best movement quarterback in this entire league. Last year, he had the most 10-plus-yard runs as a quarterback. That kills you, especially on third downs. We have to have a great rush plan to contain this guy.”

As the Broncos prepare for their season opener against the Wilson-led Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, it’s hard to ignore the fact that Wilson’s had Denver’s number in the past.

In his two career games against the Broncos, he’s thrown for over 200 yards and two touchdowns in each game with only one combined interception. In those games, he’s added a combined 66 yards on the ground and had a combined passer rating of over 100.

Needless to say, Wilson is a perfect 2-0 against the Broncos.

Additionally, even more numbers back up Ray’s seemingly wild statement.

While Brady certainly has had his fair share of success against the Broncos, he hasn’t been consistent. In fact, in a 16-3 Patriots victory over Denver in 2016, Brady only threw for 188 yards with no touchdowns on 50 percent completions.

On the Broncos’ way to Super Bowl 50, in the AFC Championship game, Denver’s defense had their way with Brady as they kept him in the pocket, hitting him more than he’s ever been hit, and holding him to 48 percent completion while forcing two interceptions and sacking him four times.

In Brady’s 17 career games against Denver, he’s anything close to Wilson’s undefeated record, going 8-9.

“All of [Seattle’s] big plays go through Russell, and most of them are outside of the pocket. He’s a dangerous guy,” Joseph elaborated on the 5-foot-11, 215-pound quarterback. “He throws touchdowns. He was second or third last year for throwing touchdowns in this league. He’s a special player. Their offense obviously goes through him.”

The elite — as defensive coordinator Joe Woods also deemed him — mobile quarterback isn’t just a pain in the rear for pass rushers like Ray and Von, either.

“He’s going to escape from time to time, so our coverage guys have to cover twice,” Joseph said, painting a full picture of all of the problems Wilson presents to an opposing defense. “When the ball is snapped, they got to cover the concept, and when he starts scrambling, they have to cover the scramble plays. That makes it difficult, especially on third down.”

The phrase “cover twice” is clearly a point of emphasis for the Broncos as it was said multiple times in the player’s locker room leading up to the season opener.

“I would say he’s probably the most accurate thrower on the run,” Justin Simmons stated.

Denver’s problems against Wilson aren’t limited to just themselves, either.

Of the elite quarterbacks, Wilson has a winning record against everyone — 2-1 against Brady, 2-0 against Peyton Manning, 2-1 against Drew Brees and 1-0 against Ben Roethlisberger — except for the quarterback that plays a similar style of game as him, Aaron Rodgers.

The Packers, led by Rodgers, have a 3-2 record against Wilson, beating him with a dose of his own medicine.

Now, saying all of this, for Denver, it’s not necessarily Mission Impossible: Russell on the loose.

“It’s going to be a challenge, but a challenge that this group has met before. Some of the guys have been in that situation when they play Green Bay at home with Rodgers,” Simmons said, opening up a path for Denver to conquer Wilson.

The game Simmons is referring to put the Broncos’ defense on the national map during their Super Bowl season in 2015.

On Sunday Night Football, not only did Denver hold the future Hall of Fame quarterback to 10 points, they made him uncomfortable all night, holding him to 77 passing yards, no touchdowns and three sacks — one of the worst games of his career by many accounts.

For Woods’ defense to find similar success against Wilson, their approach will be nearly the opposite of what a team takes in facing Brady — Keep him in the pocket.

“We have to rush this guy together. It won’t be about Bradley or about Von being separate. It takes a total, total unit to rush and contain this guy from Derek Wolfe to pushing inside with [Domata] Peko, to Von and [Bradley] Chubb and Shaq [Barrett] and Shane pushing the pocket where he can’t escape out of the back door,” Joseph said, showing how much needs to happen to contain the mobile quarterback. “It won’t be on one guy. One guy can’t contain this guy. It’ll be our entire unit.”

The ability to contain Wilson boils down to two things: Working as a team and discipline.

“You’ve got to rush with discipline. You can’t just be up the field, can’t just be coming out here all fast and stuff like that,” rookie Chubb said, explaining how the team will game plan for Wilson. “You’ve got to make sure you keep them in the pocket because with any crease he can take off with it. Just make sure that we all have our gaps that we need to be in and just make sure that everybody is doing their job.”

If he does get out of the pocket, which will likely happen at least once or twice, Woods believes he has the athletic ability on the defense to “run him down.”

Along with all of this, Woods hinted the team has a “few things” up his sleeve to try and slow down Wilson, although he wouldn’t share those plans until Sunday on the field.

Von Miller summed up Denver’s feelings for Sunday’s game pretty well.

“Russell Wilson is a great quarterback. I’m looking forward to playing against him. Not really.”

Scroll to next article

Don't like ads?
Don't like ads?
Don't like ads?