Perhaps we should have expected early season struggles from a team with new faces in the middle and head coach. It takes time to develop the confidence and chemistry needed to perform at a high level. This is especially true when it comes to the relationship between the midfielder and the head coach/offensive player, given their critical responsibility in dealing with schematic adjustments and tactical plans.
As the offensive architect, Hackett has a vision of how his offense might unfold, but he must tailor his system to suit the talents of the midfielder. Although some tweaks were made in the off-season, after watching OTAs and mini-camp practices, the best-played callers continue to fiddle with their offenses throughout the regular season.
“When it comes to Russell and I, it’s just going to be a growing process going on,” Hackett said at his press conference on Monday, following an uninspiring 16-9 victory over the Houston Texans. “It’s all about Bruce. We want to make sure he’s comfortable, he feels good, and I’m going to play as fast as we can. We want to do what’s right for him. I think that’s going to be something we’ll grow as the season goes on.”
Hackett Back To build a system that fits Wilson’s skills as a mobile game maker. These Broncos feature a variety of concepts ranging from bootlegs and down-center action passes to running pass options from rifle formations. With a few traditional drop passes mixed in, it’s clear Denver’s offensive roster was created with Wilson in mind.
As an athlete with a baseball background, Wilson excelled in pitching on the go throughout his ten years in Seattle. Whether he was dodging rushing passes on an impromptu throwing or turning a corner on a determined shoe throw, he was always able to throw darts that rolled right or left. With A+ arm talent, Wilson established himself as an exceptional passer of deep ball with a combination of arm strength and anticipation that enabled him to throw the top of defense on the pass tracks below the border. He also routinely hits on deep exaggerations. All these defenses extended vertically and completed the running game in Seattle.
But studying the All-22 Coaches from Wilson’s first two regular season games dressed as the Broncos, the veteran didn’t live up to his level. His completion rate (58.9) and ranking (86.5) are both well below his career marks in the 2022 campaign (65.0 and 101.8). Although he averages 7.7 yards per pass attempt, he only threw two passes to land against one pick, and has struggled hard in the red. Wilson’s accuracy problems prevented the Broncos from making money when they reached the shadow of the goal. Denver has been in the red six times this season. Results: Four field goals, two lost. In fact, the Broncos failed to score a goal in the first five rounds of this season. In the past 25 years, according to NFL research, this shameful streak has only leveled with two other teams: the 2007 Falcons (who finished 4-12) and the 2001 Lions (2-14). As detailed by ESPN’s Jeff Legold, the Broncos’ attack lined up for 18 games inside the 10-yard line, with none of them causing a touchdown. Wilson’s last eight attempts to pass into the ten fell incomplete.
That’s not exactly the kind of production you’d expect from an offense led by the quarterback who just signed a $245 million extension at the beginning of this month. When Denver hits the red zone, Wilson should be able to routinely propel his team into the finish zone. But early on in the Broncos QB tenure, this was not the case. At 33, Wilson appears to have been a reluctant runner. It no longer poses a serious threat to optional reading plays. His problems with putting the ball into tight window throws have surfaced when the pitch is ramped up. Until Ross does some footwork or thread the needle in champion throws, the Denver offensive will continue to struggle in the red.
With all of that in mind, Hackett has to recognize the current struggles the QB veteran faces and quickly sketch a plan that will enable the Broncos to overcome these shortcomings so that Wilson can work his way out of this slump. Running could emerge as a solution to Denver’s problem. The team ranks ninth in lunge (126 ypg) and is tied for seventh in yards per carry (4.9). The dynamic 1-2 hit by Jafonte Williams and Melvin Gordon gives the Broncos brilliance when Hackett commits to running the ball between tackles.
“When it comes to Javonte, he and Melvin have been incredibly effective,” Hackett said on Monday. “They’ve put in some very good plays.” “The running game is going well at the moment. We need to keep going, and we have to keep giving them the ball.”
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