The Denver Broncos are hoping Russell Wilson can bring the deep ball back

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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – In the time since quarterbacks John Elway and Peyton Manning roamed the football field, big passing games for the Denver Broncos are almost extinct.

The Broncos are hoping quarterback Russell Wilson can bring them back to the offense.

“Pooh, we’re throwing that thing down the field,” Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett said when Wilson was formally introduced after the blockbuster deal with the Seattle Seahawks. “It is so exiting.”

The Broncos have finished No. 21 or worse in the league in touchdowns passes in each of the last six seasons, including the end of the league in 2019. They have become No. 21 or worse in passing games at least 20 yards three times over the past six years, 15. or worse five times, including last in the league in 2016.

That’s a bit understandable given the team’s constant change at quarterback – Wilson will be the 11th different quarterback to start a game (apart from running back Phillip Lindsay’s COVID-19 required start) since Manning retired after the 2015 season.

The team has seen almost constant change in offensive coordinator and head coach. Justen Outten is the fifth different offensive coordinator since the start of the 2017 season, and Hackett is the fourth different head coach since 2016.

The result has been messy work, something the Broncos expect to change with Wilson.

“First of all, every single thing in this game is based on how the quarterback plays,” Hackett said. “So I think when we get that opportunity to sit down and talk and kind of start building this thing, it’s about what Russell does well. And one thing he does well is to throw the ball down the field. “

In recent seasons, the opponent’s coaches have said privately – and in how they lined up – that they did not think the Broncos could make them pay down the field. They crowded the row of scrimmage, clogged the short and intermediate routes and consistently added pressure on third and long games to upset the Denver quarterbacks. Rinse and repeat week after week for a misdemeanor that has not scored more than 23 points per game since 2014 and has not topped more than 21 points per game since 2016.

Wilson, on the other hand, has averaged 7.8 yards per carry. care attempts during his 10-year career – anything over 7.5 is considered a quality exhibition, and 8.0 or above is usually an elite-level passing game. The Broncos have not had a starting quarterback average of more than 7.2 yards per game. attempts for another season since Manning averaged 7.9 yards per game. trials in 2014.

“He has elite arm strength, elite precision, we feel like he has the best deep ball in the NFL,” said Broncos general manager George Paton. “Then you see him off the schedule, his eyes and his instincts and his playing ability. The IT factor that all great quarterbacks have is Russ. He’s the best in the biggest moments. He’s the best at the end of the game – to win the game. “

Hackett, for his part, was hired by Paton in January because of his success as an offensive playcaller in Buffalo, Jacksonville and Green Bay, as well as Hackett’s promise to match the Broncos’ players to the game schedule each week.

The team’s receivers, including a first-round pick, Jerry Jeudy, as well as two receivers that Paton signed to extend his contract last season, Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick, had extended bouts of inactivity last season.

Sutton had six games with three or fewer goals, nine games with two or fewer receptions. Jeudy had two receptions longer than 35 yards all season. Wilson said he has already reviewed the Broncos’ games from last season and sees plenty of potential in the group.

“Watching wideouts and watching these guys, watching Tim Patrick attack football against the Cowboys,” Wilson said. “To see Courtland Sutton dive for a go-ball against the Steelers. To see [KJ] Hamler struggles through all the things he has struggled with, and to know that he still wants work, even though he has been confused and he returns. It’s passion for me. Seeing him in the preseason game track down balls has been cool to watch. And then you think of Jerry Jeudy. I think he’s a star. “

There is plenty of work to be done before the regular season comes, and the Broncos have seen plenty of July optimism evaporate long before Halloween. But Wilson has already mapped out plans for offseason throwing sessions with the group to try to change the course of events. I have submitted video of their first meeting in California this week.

“Every time I call a play, I want the attacker to think that this play can go to the house – every single time,” Wilson said. “Every time. So I think it starts in practice. It starts with one-on-one. It starts with running routes in the air. Getting to throw in California, or if I’m here, whatever it is is in the low season. We’re already planning everything and everything else. That’s where the trust comes from. “

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