MILE HIGH MONDAY

Mile High Monday: Russell Wilson deserves credit for toughing it out

Oct 10, 2022, 6:42 AM | Updated: 10:24 am
Russell Wilson...
(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

The Denver Broncos were embarrassed on the national stage yet again in Week 5 of the 2022 NFL season. On “Thursday Night Football,” the Broncos were beaten by the Indianapolis Colts in a game that should quickly be forgotten. Neither team scored a touchdown, yet the game went into overtime where the Broncos lost by a score of 12-9.

I like taking a step back and looking at the big picture. It’s a much-needed step back and long-term view, because the short term for this team looks bad. So, what could the future hold?

I also like contemplating life and sports when driving around with the top down on my old Jeep TJ! The following is a result of those trips during the week.

Buckle up, let’s take a ride through my thoughts.

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Toughing it Out

People love to hate on Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson. Seattle fans and media especially are loving the way Wilson is playing right now because he and the Broncos are performing poorly. Sure, Wilson can be cheesy with all his “Let’s Ride” shenanigans, but an examination of his play shows he can still perform well – when healthy.

After Thursday’s debacle against the Colts, I said on “Orange and Blue Today,” as well as on Twitter, to fans that Wilson was not healthy. I’ve seen every snap of his career, and I have been following him closely since the 2012 Senior Bowl when I asked him if he wanted to come to Denver and back up Tim Tebow (he did not like that question). I know Wilson’s game, and I knew he was hurt going into the contest against the Colts – and not just because he was on the injury report but because he doesn’t look like himself.

Over the weekend, it was revealed that Wilson had a lat injury near his shoulder. It explains why he was getting his shoulder worked on in the game against the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 4. Wilson has been off with his passes – uncharacteristically so – and unless you hate him and love to make fun of him, you could see that he’s not himself.

Wilson is tough, and he’s played through injury before. However, you could make the argument that last year when he came back too soon from a finger injury, he should have taken more time to heal. Now that he’s banged up again, Wilson needs to consider all options and not just play (poorly) through the injury. If the Broncos are without Wilson for some time while he heals, so be it. His long-term health is more important than what is shaping up to be a lost season.

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Making the Nation Sick

I’m old enough to remember when fans around the country were sick of seeing the Broncos in the Super Bowl. Three blowout losses in the big game within four seasons had that effect on viewers around the country who didn’t want to watch the Broncos anymore. The same thing happened to another AFC team, the Buffalo Bills, after they lost four Super Bowls in a row. Fans across the country want to see something new and competitive – and the Broncos weren’t getting it done in the early days with John Elway at quarterback.

They’re not getting it done in the early days with Wilson at quarterback either. They’ve been the only game in town during three of their five games this year. It doesn’t matter if it’s Monday night (versus Seattle Seahaws), Sunday night (versus San Francisco 49ers), or Thursday night (versus the Colts), the Broncos have not been very impressive and are 1-2 in those contests.

The defense is playing out of their minds, but they can get wore down as the games go on as they did against the Raiders and the Colts. It’s the offense that is the problem, and oh what a problem they are. In their three primetime games, the Broncos have scored 36 points. It’s bad news for fans across the nation that Denver has three more games coming up with the national – and international – spotlight on them.

Like it or not, the Broncos are back in prime-time next week. On “Monday Night Football” in Week 6, the Broncos will be taking on the Los Angeles Chargers. Featuring one of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL, the Chargers should be heavily favored against their division rival. Two weeks after that, the Broncos are in London for an early game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. After their bye, the Broncos are set to play against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday Night Football. With the way things have gone for the Broncos, they might be 1-2 (at best) in their next three games where they’ll be the only game on. From all of us in Colorado, we’re sorry football fans but this season has been an abomination.

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Fire Hackett

We are unlikely to see Nathaniel Hackett as the head coach for years to come. Instead, the oddsmakers in Vegas have Hackett as the most likely coach to be fired first this season. I don’t think Hackett gets fired during the regular season, but you never know, and things have not been on track for the first-year head coach.

Hackett was billed as an offensive genius, and what he did with Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers was amazing. However, that transition had some growing pains that Rodgers was able to work through with head coach Matt LaFleur. Wilson and Hackett may not have the time to work out the kinks that was afforded to the pairing in Green Bay. He’s not been an offensive genius, and instead the Broncos offense is one of the worst in the league. The talent is there, so it’s on Hackett and his scheme (and play calling).

When I said the Broncos could build a dynasty in Denver, that had more to do with the Walton-Penner ownership group (and my belief in Wilson) and less to do with Hackett. I believe the Walton-Penner group has been successful in business ventures because of an understanding of how to conduct business. I’m sure they’ve examined this Hackett situation, and the fans poor response to the Broncos start, and will be looking for change at the appropriate time.

We’ll see if Hackett can turn things around. Outside of perhaps sweeping the Kansas City Chiefs, I can’t really come up with any scenario where Hackett keeps his job after this season. It’s not the way anyone wanted this to go, but that’s the way things are heading, and Vegas agrees. Hackett is looking like a one-and-done coach.

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All About Family

Most of the time in “Mile High Monday,” this final section is about comic books or movies or something fun I’m interested in outside of football. That’s not going to be the case this week. Instead, I want to take time to reflect on my uncle Tony.

I found out about a month ago that my uncle, Paul Anthony Gonzales, had been murdered at his home in Michigan City, Indiana. That hit me hard because of the way he died, and because of how much I loved my uncle Tony. He was my mom’s youngest brother, and uncle Tony was the baby of the Gonzales family. Both he and I are named after his father (my grandfather) Paul Gonzales, and that created a special bond between the three of us. Uncle Tony was all my cousins (and my sisters and me) favorite uncle because he was just cool.

He was a huge Broncos fan, and I remember going on and on with him about the Broncos from when I was little to my time in my career as a talk show host. Uncle Tony loved football, and the Broncos made him happy win or lose. I credit a lot of my love of football to my family, but the two biggest Broncos fans I know were uncle Tony and my grandma Mildred (my father’s mother). Uncle Tony also loved motorcycles, and I still have pictures of him working on the farm riding around on his 1960s Honda. I don’t have that old motorcycle, but I still have some Broncos gear from when I was a kid that uncle Tony got me.

How were you influenced as a football fan by your family? Hit me up on social media and let me know!

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