BRONCOS

‘I believe in Russ’ – George Paton feels his QB is not in decline

Oct 27, 2022, 8:00 AM | Updated: 8:55 am
George Paton and Russell Wilson...
(Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

For Russell Wilson, is his form through seven weeks a dip or a decline?

Based on what Broncos general manager George Paton said Thursday in London, he believes it’s the former for his starting quarterback, not the latter.

“I’m not concerned,” he told Denver-area media during the Broncos’ practice at the Harrow School on Thursday.

“We’re in it for the long haul with Russ, not the first seven games. We believe in Russ. I believe in Russ. We just need to play better on offense. The timing and the rhythm.”

Certainly, Wilson’s form has factored into the offense’s struggles. He ranks 24th among 32 quarterbacks with at least 125 attempts in passer rating. Further, in ESPN’s Total QBR metric, Wilson is 29th of 32 eligible quarterbacks.

But the offensive struggles are bigger than Wilson, Paton believes.

“And we need an identity. We really don’t have an identity on offense,” Paton said. “I think that comes with time, and, again, hopefully it comes soon.”

Offensive identity would come as much from overall philosophy and emphasis as any one player. To that end, Paton expressed confidence in coach Nathaniel Hackett.

But one aspect of the Broncos’ big picture is also the contract extension they gave Wilson after the preseason concluded. Paton said he “wanted to get ahead of the contract cycle” in giving Wilson the deal that includes $165 million of guaranteed money.

“We had seen how Russ was in the offseason, in training camp,” Paton said. “Felt really good about Russ. We feel really good about Russ. Just really wanted to get ahead of it. We didn’t want a lot of distraction during the season.”

There has been plenty of distraction, of course. And while contract negotiations were not a part of that, the on-field play — and outside worries about Wilson’s play as he nears age 34 — have been exacerbated by the deal the Broncos gave Wilson.

They don’t gain even a small measure of cap savings by moving on from him until 2025. And realistically, the Broncos are tied to him through that season, meaning their fate for the next three-and-a-half seasons largely rests on whether Wilson can return to the decade-long form that spurred the March trade for him.

These are questions that seemed unthinkable before the season started. But as was repeatedly said in the 2014 film “Draft Day”, the Broncos live in a different world now than the one of late August.

That said, Paton still believes in the value of the contract — and his QB.

“We feel really good about it,” Paton said. “I feel good about that deal. I feel like it will hold up.”

And then he reiterated: “I feel good about Russ.”

***

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