Russ-O-Meter: Wilson-led Broncos attack worst in the NFL again
The trip to Cabo and a week to reset didn’t help; the Denver Broncos were right back to where they’ve been all season—struggling to score points in a tight loss to the Tennessee Titans.
The Broncos’ star quarterback, who continues to struggle through the season, has led his three fourth-quarter comebacks but came up short in throwing a late interception near the end zone. Denver’s offensive line crumbled around Russell Wilson, and the depleted weapons him to use just aren’t enough for fireworks.
In the weekly “Russ-O-Meter,” we’ll grade and cover what’s gone on in the wide world of Wilson this week. The meter represents how psyched Broncos Country is with Russell.
Meter: 3 (↓1)
Stat line: 21-for-42 passing, 286 passing yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 7 carries, 8 rushing yards, 0 TD, 6 sacks for 38 yards, 22.4 QBR, 70.1 Passer Rating
Jerry Jeudy going down on the first play of the game and Denver being down to their third-string center for a large chunk of Sunday certainly was straining on Wilson and the Broncos offense. Jeudy hurt his ankle on a would-be deep ball that likely would have been completed even if it wasn’t perfectly spotted.
But even the long touchdown find to Jalen Virgil on broken coverage was an underthrown ball. Granted, Wilson did call the correct audible to make that play happen. But that’s his job. Wilson’s erratic passing was capped by some lead foot running. His mobility in the pocket was terrible behind a terrible Broncos offensive line, and his running outside the pocket pushed the Broncos to abandon designed runs after a particularly rough RPO where Wilson was blown up tucking it.
Even still, without a single trip to the red zone, Russ led the Broncos to the 25-yard line with 20 seconds left down seven and a chance to right things late. On Denver’s final play, the veteran quarterback of 11 NFL seasons actually closed his eyes and chucked up a prayer. The ball was caught by a Titan to end the game. The picture from the Denver Post of Wilson’s eyes closed and the film of where he’s throwing the ball shows just how ugly the play was.
— NFL (@NFL) November 13, 2022
Considering the Broncos first shot at that fourth down was a bad and mistimed snap that hit Wilson mid-audible and led to a pop-up-pass mid-sandwich hit, the Broncos redo after a Tennessee penalty may have been somewhat better despite the interception because at least they got the play off. That was the story of much of the second half for the Broncos, who either punted or turned it over on all their second-half drives. Regulated to Luke Wattenberg at center and with injuries across the o-line, including Billy Turner going down mid-game, Denver could do nothing to stop the Titans. Even for Wilson, who has been sacked third most (29 times) in the NFL behind Justin Fields (36 times—has played two more games than Russ) and Joe Burrow (30—times—has played one more game than Russ), the line was standout awful.
And the shocking badness of the Russell Wilson is notable too. The only regular starter in the NFL since 2005 that has been worse was 2017 Trevor Siemian.
Russell Wilson has a Total QBR of 32.9 this season. That's the worst their main starter has been since Trevor Siemian in 2017 (30.9).
These are the two worst Total QBRs on record since Total QBR has been a stat (going back to about 2005)
— The Sabermetric Skeptic (@SABRSkeptic) November 14, 2022
It’s still not definitive that Russ is cooked, even though their coaching staff seems to be. To go out and get Wilson with an offensive-focused coaching hire then come out and be just as bad if not worse than Denver’s offense has been the past few years is fireable.
The Broncos have scored fewer than 17 points 49 times since Super Bowl 50, almost topping the rest of the AFC West, who has done that 51 times since the Broncos last title. This season Denver’s been lower than that mark seven times while the rest of the division has only had three such games—both stats coming from DenverFan’s Andrew Mason.
Denver’s down to just a 14.5 points per game average which is worst in the NFL and tied for second-worst in Broncos franchise history.
After *averaging* 33 points per game from 2012-14, the Broncos have only scored 33 or more points 6 times in the 122 games since lol
— Ryan Freemyer (@RFreemyer) November 14, 2022
Courtland Sutton had a decent second half but has been a ghost for weeks and Denver only got breakout rookie tight end Greg Dulcich the ball once. Even the Broncos, proven to be good weapons, are doing nothing for most of the game. It’s all flawed—wristband or not.
Denver finally returns home to host the Las Vegas Raiders, one of the few teams in the NFL worse than Wilson’s Broncos. The Raiders are incentivized to lose and better their draft position, while Denver does not have their own pick, which would-be No. 7 if the season ended today—sent to Seattle in the trade for Wilson.