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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – As the Denver Broncos connect an offensive playbook that fits quarterback Russell Wilson, one of the most important things is to make sure he gets less hit while maintaining his mobility.
For as Hall of Famer John Elway has said with a laugh, there is an “age multiplier” when it comes to sacks. If a quarterback was over 30, “a hit counts as two each time, and if they’s over 40, it’s like three, and I did not even reach 40 as a player.
Wilson enters the 2022 season as a 33-year-old – turning 34 on November 29th. Although there is no official penalty mileage counter, the Broncos must find a balance between Wilson’s mobility, ability to save games and the hits he will take.
“It’s all about managing the system,” Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett said when asked about Wilson’s progress. “We want to build this thing all around him and make sure he’s comfortable and watch him come to life. I think he did some amazing things [in practice] by using his athletics, and at the same time just being a pure drop-back passer. “
The Broncos would like Wilson to be a long-term solution to the position. They crave his penchant for creating on the go and avoiding defenders. They love his persistence in making something happen, even when things do not go well after the snap. To this point, his health has rarely been an issue, as he missed three games in 10 seasons – all last season after a finger surgery.
However, Wilson has been one of the most fired quarterbacks in the league over the last decade. Sacks are not always the best indicator of who is holding the ball for too long or which team is not holding enough in protection, but they are still blows on the quarterback.
Wilson has been fired at least 40 times in eight of his seasons, including a league-leading 48 in 2019, when he played a draw with Matt Ryan and Kyler Murray. He suffered a career-worst 51 layoffs in 2018. The only two seasons he has been fired fewer than 40 times were in 2012 (33) as a rookie and last season (33) where he missed three starts.
Wilson was asked last week if he thought playing from the pocket would be a priority in the Broncos’ offense, and he said: “Yes, definitely. I think it all starts from the pocket – to be able to control the game. “through the pocket.”
He added: “But also out of pocket. You have to be able to dominate both.”
Protective issues have consistently hampered the Broncos’ passing play during the era after Peyton Manning, especially as they opened the formation with three wide receivers. As a result, the Broncos have seen their quarterbacks being harassed for mistakes.
Wilson’s abilities repair a lot of that, but Hackett has promised a running game that is good enough to help keep defenders away. A solid game will also make game-action fitting an effective tool for Wilson. And while Wilson can extend play, the Broncos will also look to do his part to move the ball faster.
Hackett, who spent three seasons as the Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator as he watched Aaron Rodgers consistently conjure up the improbable on the go, admits Wilson’s mobility is an advantage. And that’s part of why the Broncos sent five draft picks and three players to the Seahawks to acquire the quarterback. How they mix Wilson with the scheme and the desire to keep him on the field will take some responsibility from everyone involved.
“Even when you’re out here [at practice] and everyone thinks they fired him, you just laugh because when you see the tape and there are many times he gets out of things, “Hackett said.” He bobs and weaves, and then suddenly he scores touchdowns . “