Russell Wilson begins his first year as quarterback with the Denver Broncos after 10 seasons in Seattle with the Seahawks. One of the reasons Wilson wanted to leave Seattle was he didn’t feel he had enough ownership of the offense. According to reports, suggestions he made to coaches were rejected. That doesn’t appear to be the case in Denver.
“Coach and Russell are not coach-player,” a source told Pro Football Talk’s Peter King. “They’re partners.”
Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett is in his first year on the job. Of course he has experience as a coordinator, but this is his first time in the big chair. It would be wise for him to lean on the experience of a veteran quarterback like Wilson.
In any partnership it’s give and take. Hackett can lean on Wilson’s expertise, but as the quarterback and leader Wilson will also have to show that he can take direction from Hackett and set an example for the rest of the squad.
A veteran club can have its advantages, especially in football at the key positions. But in a sport that is the ultimate team game, a coach has to be able to deliver a message and have everyone internalize and do their job.
It’s not unheard of for Wilson to want more say so in the way a team operates on and off the field. Quarterback is lauded as the most important position in sports and one of leadership. With a Super Bowl title, nine Pro Bowl honors, and an All-Pro selection, Wilson has earned the right to have input.
Wilson will be adjusting to a new offensive system under Hackett. He ran an offense in Seattle that emphasized the stretch-bootleg and big plays down field. Here in Denver it is more of a West Coast Offense, getting the ball out quickly to open receivers. So far Hackett and Wilson are in lockstep.
“It’s gotten to the point that I go, ‘Hey, you’re late.’ Or Russ says it before I do. Or he talks about it because he knows that that’s the standard I want,” Hackett said. “I don’t want him to be touched. I don’t want him to have to run around. Now, sometimes you have to, but those ones I can’t control. The more that he feels that and understands that, the better it’s going to be.”
It seems that the move to Denver has given Wilson a new lease on life. Not that his “old life” was unhappy, but maybe he felt there was nothing more he could do in Seattle under the direction the franchise was headed.
People close to Wilson are making an analogy to 2011, when Wilson transferred from N.C. State to Wisconsin and led the Badgers to an 11-3 record, a win in the inaugural Big Ten Championship Game, and a Rose Bowl berth.
“This is Wisconsin all over again,” said Paul Chryst, Wilson’s quarterback coach for the Badgers.
Broncos wide receiver Courtland Sutton says Wilson brings a needed energy.
“He brings that buzz of energy we’ve really needed,” Sutton said. “People who were here when Peyton played say it’s the same kind of feeling.”
Peyton, of course, is Peyton Manning. He helped the Broncos win Super Bowl 50. No telling if Wilson can do that with this Broncos team. The AFC West is loaded with the Kansas City Chiefs, Las Vegas Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers. But if the Broncos are to have a chance it will begin with Wilson at quarterback.