BRONCOS

Ex-Seahawks teammate on Russell Wilson: ‘He’s still very limited’

Oct 19, 2022, 11:35 AM | Updated: 11:42 am
Russell Wilson...
(Photo by Justin Tafoya/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Tafoya/Getty Images)

Former NFL tight end Luke Willson played 91 games over six seasons alongside Russell Wilson with the Seahawks. And as he watches his ex-teammate, he sees plenty amiss with both the QB and the Broncos offense.

“Denver, oh my goodness,” Willson lamented in an on-air spot for TSN — a Canadian all-sports broadcast network co-owned by ESPN — after the Broncos’ overtime loss Monday.

He didn’t mince words on the Broncos’ attack, describing it as:

  • “Horrid”
  • “Very, very bad”
  • “Limited”

“… When you have an offense that is this limited and this poor, it doesn’t really matter how good your defense is, you’re not going to win games in this league,” he added.

What he sees from Wilson in particular is the QB he knows well — but only in spurts. In the eyes of Willson, “Mr. Unlimited” is now “very limited.”

“I did see some flashes of kind of what he used to do in the Seattle times,” Willson said. “But the reality is, the way he’s reading and the way he’s playing now, he’s still very limited.”

Willson cited a third-and-1 play from the Los Angeles 29-yard line just over 7 minutes into the game. Jerry Jeudy came into motion from right to left before the snap.

And as Willson saw it, there was a hint that should have guided the QB.

“Because you see the DB not run with [Jeudy], that’s when you know it’s zone,” Willson explained. “So, they give him a tell that it’s zone coverage. His first read should be the tight end right in the middle of the field.”

Indeed, rookie TE Greg Dulcich was open in the middle of the field, just past the line to gain.

“This is Football 101. Zone coverage, bam,” Willson said. “As you see, the two linebackers split. You’ve got a sit route over the ball. Take the first down, and we’re almost in the red zone. But instead, our eyes are elsewhere.”

Denver’s quarterback took a sack, and the Broncos settled for a Brandon McManus field goal.

The former Seahawks, Lions and Ravens tight end — who retired in August 2021 — noted Wilson’s mobility and his ability to throw on the run, demonstrated on an early 37-yard, third-and-13 pass to Jerry Jeudy.

“This is the good of Russ,” Willson said.

“But the reality is, Jay (Onrait, TSN co-host), if you don’t have a foundation where you can just make simple throws and read simple defenses, you can’t rely on this. Especially — he’s a little older, he’s not healthy –”

“Rookie head coach — obviously he’s had some issues himself, right?” interjected Onrait.

“And that’s my next point,” Willson said. “Trust me, I love to dog Nathaniel Hackett. I love to. But at some point, there’s a human element to calling plays.

“So, if you’re calling plays, and you’re Nathaniel Hackett, and all the pressure’s on you, and then all of a sudden, it’s like, ‘I’ve got a quarterback in here that isn’t executing simple concepts. How can he comfortably call something that’s more complex?”

Ergo, in Willson’s eyes, the problems of the Broncos’ offense include both head coach or quarterback. It’s not a binary, one-or-the-other situation.

But it’s another alarming view of where the Broncos find themselves six games into the Wilson era: dead last in scoring and with a struggling quarterback to whom they committed $165 million of guaranteed money.

***

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