January 30, 2023

Raven Tribune

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Russell Wilson from the Broncos – I wish I had played better with Nathaniel Hackett

Englewood, Colo. – Denver Broncos quarterback Russell WilsonGoing on a career-low path in touchdown passes and a career-high in sacks, he recalled playing this disappointing season as remorse in the wake of Monday’s firing of Nathaniel Hackett as the team’s head coach.

“The truth is, I wish I could have played better for him, too,” Wilson said after Wednesday’s training.

Hackett sacked 15 games in his first season as coach of the Broncos with the team at 4-11 and with the lowest offense in the league at 15.5 points per game. It was the shortest tenure of any non-interim head coach in franchise history.

For his part, Wilson, in his first season with the team since the massive acquisition of him in March, caught 12 touchdown passes in his 13 starts, meaning he could potentially finish just short of his previous single-season low of 20 in 2014.

Wilson also sacked the league-leading 49 times in those 13 games (3.8 sacks per game). His 51 sacks in 2018 are a career high in this category.

Interim head coach Jerry Rosberg said Wednesday that Wilson will start the Broncos’ final two games of the season, including the Kansas City Chiefs game at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday.

“We’re going to play every player who’s available and healthy enough to play to try and win a game of football… Russell Wilson is the starting quarterback and he’ll be the starting quarterback,” said Rosberg.

Wilson had his worst showing in a season filled with uneven efforts in a 51-14 loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Christmas Day with 15-of-27 passing for 214 yards and three interceptions. He threw two of those interceptions on his first three pass attempts of the game and both led to Rams touchdowns.

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In the aftermath of Hackett’s shooting, Wilson’s play was scrutinized near and far. General manager George Button and owner and CEO Greg Benner both said Tuesday that Wilson can fix what needs fixing in his game. Button and Penner also said that Wilson’s anguish was not the only reason for Hackett’s dismissal.

“Ross said he didn’t play at his level… He’ll be the first to tell you he didn’t play at his level, he didn’t play at our level, he needs to do better,” Button said. “I don’t think we made a coaching move based on Ross. That wasn’t all there was to it, and that’s not why we hired a new coach to replace Ross. It’s about the whole organization… It’s not about whether Ross is salvageable or not, we just think he is, and we are.”

On Wilson’s place in the team, Benner said, “The decision to have Russell here is a long-term one.”

Wilson echoed those sentiments on Wednesday.

“I know I can play exceptionally well,” Wilson said, “I know what I have in me and what I can do.” … At the end of the day, every moment you’re there you want to play your best, I haven’t been able to do that this year yet.

“…a difficult year in many ways, just physically… [I’m] Used to score a lot of touches, win a lot of matches and that didn’t happen, [it’s the] “It was the first time like this,” Wilson added. “…my expectations are higher than anyone else’s… my mission remains the same – to bring Super Bowls to Denver.”

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Asked how attractive he thought the Broncos’ job was to prospective coaches given his struggles and struggles with the offense, Wilson called it a “special job.”

The Broncos traded five draft picks, including a first-round pick who is now projected to be a top three pick in the upcoming April draft, as well as three players to the Seattle Seahawks in March for Wilson. The Broncos then signed Wilson in early September to a five-year, $245 million contract extension.