Strike 1: The Denver Broncos aren’t going to the playoffs, but Russell Wilson could very well end up going to the Pro Bowl.

If that were to happen, it would be a hard pill for much of Broncos Country to swallow. Especially after the heart wrenching, season-killing last play loss to the lowly New England Patriots on Christmas Eve. A whole lotta folks want to blame the QB with the fat contract who hasn’t come close to living up to expectations for Denver missing the postseason for the eighth straight year. More astute observers will look around and see a roster that has more holes than Castle Pines.

After Russ threw for a modest 238 yards and a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns against the Pats, he’s sitting on 26 TD passes, just eight interceptions, more than 3,000 yards and there are still two games to play. For the season, Wilson is completing better than 66% of his passes.

Those are Pro Bowl numbers. Right now, Russ is among the top five QB’s in the AFC statistically, and when you remove the Super Bowl participants, and figure in injuries and opt outs, the odds are pretty good that he gets selected to participate for the 10th time in his career.

That won’t be enough for a sizable chunk of Broncos Country, most of whom have still not forgiven Wilson for not being Peyton Manning the minute he was acquired from Seattle two summers ago. His poor 2022 season, coupled with his huge and unforgiving contract are sticking points. Yet the fact remains that what Wilson is currently surrounded with on offense this season is so subpar that 2013 Manning would have had trouble moving the ball consistently with this bunch.

Wilson has actually had the kind of year that’s reminiscent of the kind of “check down” season that journeyman quarterback Trevor Siemian had here in 2016 – the year after Denver won Super Bowl 50 and the season that started the ignominious streak. Siemian was voted a Pro Bowl alternate that season, but couldn’t participate due to injury. For the season, he threw 18 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, passed for 3,400 yards and had a competition percentage of 59.6.

Siemian registered 7.0 yards per pass attempt. Wilson is currently at 6.9.

The difference is, the offense Siemian was operating was loaded with skill players like C.J. Anderson, Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. More importantly, Denver had an offensive line that could actually pass protect.

Now, start with the fact that 2023 Russell Wilson is a light years better QB than 2016 Trevor Siemian. After that, take a look back at the 2016 roster and ask yourself if anyone besides Wilson from the 2023 Broncos would have started on offense for the 2016 Broncos?

The answer is no one.

So then ask yourself if you still think that the current Broncos problems start under center.

Now, after a season that saw some improvement, significant grit and promise in many areas, another important offseason looms. The Broncos brain trust, including head coach Sean Payton, have a decision to make: Do they go into the draft and free agency looking to build up around Wilson, or do they part ways with the probable future Hall of Famer, take the massive salary cap hit, and start over?

Starting over with a rookie QB may sound enticing, but even if Denver drafts someone more suited to the kind of offense Payton prefers, things aren’t going to just magically get better in the win-loss column. Not if the more pressing issues remain unaddressed.

Be careful what you wish for, Broncos Country.