Going into this year’s training camp, the Denver Broncos quarterback room looks entirely different than it did last year, except with Russell Wilson headlining the group as the top returning option. Can Russell Wilson bounce back from last year’s offensive struggles?

Denver Broncos Training Camp Preview: Quarterback

Russell Wilson hopes to shake off a career-low season from 2022 and bounce back in 2023 under new head coach Sean Payton. After putting together a strong offseason program at organized team activities and mandatory minicamp, the clock and evaluation process on Wilson begins again as the team reports for Broncos Camp.

Will Russ turn things around in 2023?
The Denver Broncos are coming off of a 5-12 season last year where Wilson was under center in all but two games. Nathaniel Hackett was fired with two games remaining in the season, which prompted the organization to look deeper if they strive to turn things around.

The Walton-Penner Family ownership group went through an extensive hiring process to determine who would lead the Broncos going forward, and they landed on arguably the best option for not just Wilson but the team itself.

In 2022, Wilson’s struggles were perplexing to watch as he threw for a career-low 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions and was sacked 55 times. Not only did Wilson struggle in Hackett’s offense, he also dealt with a variety of injuries that impacted him throughout the season.

Wilson will have two new coaches to work with — making that two years in a row that he’s never worked with a certain coach before. Payton is one of them, and Davis Webb is the other as he takes over the role of Wilson’s quarterback coach.

With Payton’s insertion into the organization, the microscope on Wilson becomes bigger. The Broncos’ offense has made moves all off-season long that indicate they’re looking to be a run-first, physically imposing team after adding Mike McGlinchey at right tackle and Ben Powers at left guard.

It felt like Wilson was attempting to do too much last season to try and will the team to victory, but it ultimately cost them in the long run. Payton’s offense appears to be designed to avoid being one-dimensional, where Wilson will have to perform well at quarterback, but the pressure to win won’t be solely placed on his shoulders alone.

That’s where the rushing attack will come in handy if the offense can execute properly — if Denver is gashing opponents on the ground, it opens things up for Wilson to connect with a variety of players like Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton, Tim Patrick, Greg Dulcich, KJ Hamler, Marquez Callaway, and Marvin Mims. If the Broncos’ offense and Wilson struggle this upcoming season, Denver could very well begin looking at contingency plans for the future.

Will Jarrett Stidham solidify himself as the true QB2? A look at the Denver Broncos QB room
Last year’s training camp saw a position battle between Brett Rypien and veteran Josh Johnson for the backup quarterback job behind Russell Wilson. This year’s training camp dynamic will differ as the team features three other players on the roster.

In NFL Free Agency, the Denver Broncos signed former Las Vegas Raiders and New England Patriots QB Jarrett Stidham as Wilson’s backup. Payton has often mentioned the word ‘vision’ throughout this offseason, and the vision for Stidham is to continue to ascend in a positive direction as a developing young quarterback.

There were bits and pieces of Stidham’s game that stood out last season, including him lighting up the NFL’s #1 ranked defense against San Francisco. The bigger question surrounding Stidham is whether or not he can build off of some of his flashes last season and perform at that level during Denver’s preseason campaign.

How he commands the offense when he’s in will be an important storyline to watch in the coming weeks. Can Sean Payton have an important hand in his development?

Perhaps the bigger question is whether or not Stidham can come in and play at a high level in the event Wilson were to miss any time due to an injury or if Payton sat him if he struggled. In today’s NFL, it’s imperative to have a capable backup in the event of one of those two aforementioned scenarios.

However, he’ll have to prove and solidify during training camp and the NFL Preseason that he is, in fact, the Broncos QB2. While he’s the odds-on favorite for the role based on the team’s signing of him in March, Denver also has two other quarterbacks on the roster who are vying to compete and change the coaching staff’s minds.

If Denver carries three quarterbacks on the active roster this year, will it be Ben DiNucci or Jarrett Guarantano?
Jarrett Guarantano found himself on the Denver Broncos’ active roster during the final stretch of the team’s games in 2022. While he never took a snap in the regular season, he’s been in the building all offseason long and will look to see time on the field during the preseason to give the team the best possible evaluation.

With the NFL’s transition to allowing a third quarterback to be active on gameday without taking up an active roster spot, it appears more than likely that the Broncos will look to have three QBs total — whether that comes with two on the 53-man roster and one on the practice squad or three on the active roster.

Guarantano will compete with Ben DiNucci — who signed with the Broncos after a tryout during rookie minicamp — for the team’s QB3 spot. This will be the one training camp battle at the position that will garner the most attention from Broncos fans and other teams who may be looking for a potential backup heading into the regular season.

DiNucci’s prior NFL experience and recent performance in the XFL generate the perception on paper that he’d be the likely favorite in that position battle. However, Guarantano has an unknown factor to him that could allow him to elevate his game under Payton during the preseason.

Regardless, the theme for Denver Broncos training camp is clear as day as it pertains to the quarterback position — Russell Wilson needs to have a bounce-back year, Jarrett Stidham needs to prove that he’s truly a QB2 in the NFL, and can Ben DiNucci or Jarrett Guarantano become a viable developmental option for this coaching staff.

Storylines to watch

  • Can Russell Wilson bounce back under Sean Payton?
  • Is Jarrett Stidham a legitimate QB2 option?
  • Will Jarrett Guarantano or Ben DiNucci push for the backup job?
  • Who makes it as a potential third QB on the roster this season?

The Broncos will report for training camp on July 28 at the Centura Health Training Center.