How long will the Russell Wilson high last in Broncos Country?
Thoughts and observations from George Paton’s Pacific Northwest heist:
• We all had different reactions when we heard the news of the Russell Wilson trade. Mine was a goofy grin that wouldn’t go away. I also felt this burden lifted from my shoulders. Hey, what I do isn’t exactly neurobiology (or being the head coach of the Broncos; props to you Coach Hackett), but it isn’t easy to try and put lipstick on the pig that has been the Broncos QB situation day after day after day.
• Wilson’s arrival means my job gets fun again. Having a legitimate franchise quarterback is fun. Rooting for the Broncos is fun again. It means meaningful games and real expectations. Knowing what it was like during the Peyton Manning era was why I couldn’t stop smiling. Because it can and should be that way again.
• Kudos to George Paton. All this guy has done in one year is nail one of the top draft classes in the NFL, fire a coaching staff no one liked, hire a coach everyone seems to like and swindle the Seahawks in landing Wilson. Not bad. I get the underwhelming job turned in by John Elway these last five years had people naturally assuming the worst when it came to a Broncos GM, but the lack of patience and rush to criticize Paton was unfair. To see him pull off the Wilson caper leaves a lot of fans – and media – with egg on their faces.
• Landing Wilson seems almost too good to be true. So what’s the catch? It’s clear with the reports coming out of Seattle that Russ can wear on you. His relentless energy and positivity (some of it kind of corny), plus an entourage tracking his every move and making not-so-subtle recommendations and demands to management, can get tiresome. To which I say, so?
• Here’s someone committed to football and to getting every last snap out of a career that he’s on record as saying lasts until he’s 45 years old (by the way, keep going Tom Brady; set that bar higher and higher!). Elite quarterbacks need to be treated differently. You can’t on one hand complain about not having one and go on and on about how you have to over draft one and keep swinging for the fences and you’re nothing until you get that guy and then get one and complain and say he should be treated as one of 53 guys. If he wants his own personal trainer and someone to monitor all his drop backs at practice, then go ahead. It’s a different NFL world so start getting with the times.
• This is why the Hackett/Wilson marriage should be glorious in the beginning. My partner, Stink, told the story how Wilson would prepare 15-page dossiers of the next opponent. Wilson had to feel that his input was being totally under appreciated by coach Pete Carroll and others in the Seattle organization. Contrast that with Hackett. Here’s a coach who’s preaching a new, modern way of doing things. Of listening to players and urging feedback. I can imagine him getting that dossier from Wilson and eagerly diving into it and exchanging ideas back and forth with his quarterback. So I ask again, How are the things that supposedly wore out Wilson’s welcome in Seattle bad? Methinks one year of Drew Lock and fill-in-the-blank, free-agent journeyman QB will make the Seahawks and their fans realize just how good they had it.
• In the meantime Broncos Country, feel free to pinch yourselves to remind you that good football fortune has smiled on you again. First, it was Manning choosing the Rocky Mountains as home. Now, it’s Wilson. Other NFL fanbases are wondering what the heck is going on here? Who knows and who cares? The Broncos are relevant again. The hill at training camp will be filled. Jim and Tony and Joe and Troy will be regulars on our TV screens seemingly every week. Broncos Country will travel and take over opposing stadiums. The good times are back!
• That smile ain’t going anywhere for a good long time.