Russell Wilson was supposed to be a superstar quarterback.

That’s who George Paton traded for this offseason, and why he gave up a King’s ransom for him. That consisted of two first-round picks, two seconds, a fifth, Shelby Harris, Drew Lock and Noah Fant for Wilson and a fourth-rounder.

It’s also why Paton paid Russell Wilson handsomely this offseason before he’d even played a single snap for the Denver Broncos.

Even Wilson, who’s been a top-10 quarterback for basically his entire career to this point, was going to struggle when joining a new team. That much was expected. But, no one expected him to look as awful as he has in most every game this year.

No one expected Nathaniel Hackett to look like he’s underwater as the team’s head coach either, and part of the reason Wilson’s struggled so much is due to play-calling and other, bigger issues plaguing the team.

As Hackett explained to Sports Illustrated in October, “And I gotta learn how to call plays for Russ, I gotta learn how to call plays for all the players.”

Outside of all the glaring mistakes by Hackett’s Broncos — including leading the league in penalties, random benching of players etc. — Wilson’s play on the field has been the biggest issue with the Broncos offense.

When asked about his team’s offensive identity on Wednesday, Hackett responded, “It’s not a good one.”

Currently, Denver is the worst offense in the NFL, scoring 14.6 points per game, which is dead-last, as is their red zone scoring percentage (35.0%). And on crucial third downs, Denver is 31st (28.5%).

And Wilson certainly impacts those numbers. He’s the quarterback, who has to see open players, deliver accurate balls and check the offense out of plays depending on the defensive alignment.

So, why exactly has Wilson been so disappointing as the Broncos quarterback this year?

Time to throw

Warren Sharp explained on FOX Sports on Tuesday that Wilson has his own self to blame for his awful play.

As Sharp said, Wilson got hit repeatedly on Sunday in the Broncos loss to the Tennessee Titans. Yes, Denver’s offensive line is incredibly beaten up, with backups and even third-stringers playing at certain spots.

But the reason why Wilson was hit 17 times on Sunday — the most by any QB since 2006 — was due to his time of throw being too long.

2.6 seconds is the average time to throw in the NFL. When Wilson threw at or under 2.6 seconds last Sunday, he was hit only three times. That means the other 14 times came when he held onto the ball too long, over that 2.6 second mark. On 18 of his dropbacks, Wilson held the ball for 3.5 seconds or longer, and 5.0 seconds on seven passing plays.

“It’s hard to rationalize the fact that zero adjustments were made — whether by Russ mentally or by the team’s coaches — to get the ball out more quickly based on how the defense was playing Denver,” Sharp said.

This comes into line with how Hackett has been able to get Wilson going this year, if even in only small bits at a time.

Hackett jump-started Wilson with short, quick passes against the Chargers. Then, in the Broncos’ best offensive day of the year agains the Jaguars, that quick, short passing game was back yet again.

Denver can’t only throw it short, but Hackett and Wilson need to come to a consensus that those are the kinds of plays they need to run more of for this offense to find success.


Those short passes will simultaneously help in another area of weakness for Wilson: Accuracy.

Per Pro Football Reference, his on target percentage (73.2%) is the lowest of the last four years, which is when PFR started tracking it. It also ranks him at 22nd in the league.

His bad throw percentage (17.2%) is also 22nd among 35 qualified passers.

Per Rotounderworld, his catchable pass rate (71.9%) is 28th, and his true completion percentage (63.8%) is 33rd.

Plus, ESPN’s QBR, which is a 0-100 scale, is a 33.0 which is 27th. And Pro Football Focus‘ overall grade of 58.4 (0-100) ranks him 33rd in the NFL.

So, in terms of accuracy, Wilson’s been in the bottom-third of the league this season. And some metrics put him at the very bottom.

Add it all up and Wilson simply isn’t throwing an accurate enough football. Could that be due to his lat and hamstring injuries? Partly, but he must improve in this department if the offense is to improve.

Of note: Broncos receivers have dropped 6.8% of Wilson’s throws, which is 5th-most in the league, and only Jacoby Brissett of the Cleveland Browns has more attempts than Wilson among those with higher drop percentages.

Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton have not played well enough either per multiple analytics. Still, some may point to Wilson’s inaccurate passes as a part of the reason why there have been so many drops.


The Broncos are a dumpster fire on offense, while they boast arguably the best defense in the entire NFL.

It’s extremely frustrating for fans and likely for coaches as well as Paton and even the Waltons as owners.

There are many reasons as to why the offense has been the worst in the NFL. From Hackett’s lack of leadership and play-calling prowess, to receivers dropping too many balls, to the offensive line’s ineptitude and finally a boat-load of injuries.

But Wilson still has to bear some brunt of the blame. He’s the highest-paid player, supposed to be a leader on and off the field, and if he’s struggling, so will the entire offense.

Hopefully the former superstar quarterback can improve his accuracy, and that may come from more quick passes.

Denver’s (3-6) season continues against the AFC West bottom-dwellers, the Las Vegas Raiders (2-7) this Sunday in the Mile High City. The game kicks off at 2:05 p.m. on CBS.