Matt Calkins: Russell Wilson's time with Broncos has gone from bad to worse

Matt Calkins, The Seattle Times on

Published in Football

I know, I know — he doesn't play here anymore and hasn't since 2021.

And yeah, the Mariners' collapse (or perhaps pending surge?) is on the minds of the most ardent Seattle sports fans now.

But it's hard to look at that score — 70-20 — and not think that Russell Wilson is the sports epitome of "be careful what you wish for."

The first three weeks of the 2023 season has only amplified Wilson's nightmarish departure from Seattle, something that seemed close to impossible after the disaster that was last year.

After forcing his way out of Seattle and drawing boos from the Lumen Field crowd in the season opener, the Broncos QB watched his new team go 5-12 (4-11 with him as a starter) and give the Seahawks the fifth overall pick in the following draft.

It was a series of on-the-field, off-the-field and in-the-air embarrassments, with Wilson posting a career-low passer rating of 84.4 and career-high number of sacks taken (55) — all while being mocked nationally for exercising in the aisle of the plane while his teammates slept.


Sure, a five-year, $242 million contract will help assuage some of these humiliations, but money isn't a panacea to a competitor with an ego. Last year hurt Russell. What's happening now might be even more painful.

The Broncos are now 0-3 after losing by 50 points to the Dolphins on Sunday. That takes Wilson's record to 4-14 as the starting QB in the mile-high city, his worst 18-game stretch by a country mile. The losses aren't necessarily his fault. He is having a decent year by NFL standards, with his 99.5 passer rating ranking seventh in the league — although he has taken 10 sacks.

But Wilson didn't force his way out of Seattle to be decent. The Broncos didn't pay him nearly $50 million a year to be decent, either. These moves and signings were built around the idea that Wilson would take his (once) Hall of Fame-worthy résumé and resurrect an organization that hadn't reached the playoffs since its Super Bowl-winning season in 2015. The opposite has happened. The Broncos just keep getting worse.

It's quite possible that Wilson's numbers would have dropped off last season regardless of where he played. Had it happened in Seattle, however, it's unlikely that he would have taken the brunt of the blame for his decline. Critics probably would have pointed to coach Pete Carroll, or the offensive system, or a shoddy O-line that consistently failed to protect the team's primary asset.


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