The Seahawks will get a top 10 pick from the Broncos in 2023 after hitting the dirt in the ’22 draft.
DENVER — The most lopsided trade in NFL history sent Herschel Walker to Minnesota for the handful of players and draft picks who were pillars of the Dallas Cowboys dynasty in the ’90s.
Russell Wilson’s trade wasn’t exactly slick, but eight months in it sure feels as one-sided as any deal since Walker’s collapse that Jerry Jones promptly dubbed “the great train robbery.”
What Denver got after 33 years might be called “The Big Bamboozle.”
Walker was no bust in Minneapolis, scoring 25 touchdowns in two and a half seasons with the Vikings. But he’s long gone as the Cowboys’ trade blossomed after Jones and Jimmy Johnson drafted Emmett Smith, Alexander Wright, Russell Maryland, Alvin Harper, Dixon Edwards, Robert Jones, Kevin Smith and Darren Woodson on their way to three Super Bowls. parades.
Wilson was nothing like the expected Broncos when GM fielded George Patton with first- and second-round picks this year and next with three players to the nine-time Pro Bowl team that was supposedly still in its prime at age 33.
The preseason $245 million extension Wilson only adds to the unease of Broncos fans who have watched a string of quarterbacks fail since Peyton Manning walked away to do game shows and commercials with his brothers after winning Super Bowl 50.
The Seahawks selected tackle Charles Cross in the first round and Edge rushed Boye Mafe in the second with the two picks they got from Denver. As it stands now, they will have the #6 overall pick in the 2023 draft thanks to Wilson’s debacle in Denver’s debut.
Not only that, but Wilson’s successor in Seattle, Gino Smith, is spending the season everyone outside of Washington was counting on Wilson in the Rockies this year.
Smith has the surprising Seahawks tie the 49ers atop the NFC West at 6-4. He completed a league-high 72.8% of his passes and had 17 touchdowns thrown and four interceptions in his first year as a starter since 2014.
With six losses in nine games, Wilson completes a career-high 59.5% of his passes, the worst in his career, and is on pace for a career-high 57 sacks and has only thrown seven touchdown passes with five interceptions.
The Broncos are 3-7 and sit in the AFC West’s basement after being swept by lowly forwards and head coach Josh McDaniels on Sunday.
The Seahawks average 25.7 points per game with Smith at quarterback, just a mark higher than the 25.3-point average during Wilson’s tenure in Seattle.
Wilson’s stunningly poor play in Denver prompted a reporter to ask him Sunday after a 22-16 overtime loss to the Raiders if the Broncos weren’t good enough to win that kind of game.
Fans began to wonder if it was Wilson who wasn’t good enough anymore as the Broncos lost six games by one point and nullified a dominant Denver defense by averaging just 14.7 points.
They’d be a better 9-1 in the NFL right now if they averaged in regulation the 19.7 points per game they did last year with Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock at quarterback.
Or the 20.2 she averaged the year prior to that when Locke led the league with 15 interceptions.
or 20.6 average with Case Keenum in 2018.
Or 19.3 it averaged in 2016 with Trevor Siemian, as it averaged in 2011 with Tim Tebow.
Wilson did not tangle with rookie coach Nathaniel Hackett, who has now hired someone to help him run games and assigned another member of his staff to call the plays.
After stubbornly refusing for weeks to relinquish play-calling duties, Hackett relented and turned it over to Clint Kubik, QBs coach and passing game coordinator.
The switch paid immediate dividends as Wilson drew his first touchdown with the Broncos’ drive, a 92-yard beauty followed by nine drives that either came up empty or ended in field goals.
Hackett recently added a 7-on-7 drill into training after ditching base training camp last summer, stealing hundreds, if not thousands, of Wilson’s throws to develop rapport and rhythm with his receivers.
Now many of them were injured along with many offensive linemen. But that’s not all that is bothering Denver’s sporadic offense.
Wilson made wrong decisions and bad throws in times of crisis that cost the Broncos losses to the Colts, Chargers, Jets, Titans and now, the Raiders.
He still misses open receivers either with his eyes or his arm and has only shown flashes of the old Russell Wilson Broncos he thought they were getting last spring.
The Broncos have only hit four home runs to date, the fewest in any five-game home stretch in the franchise’s 63-year history.
They’re 0-3 going into overtime, including Sunday’s game when Wilson couldn’t touch the ball in overtime after committing a critical error two minutes after the fourth quarter warning when the Raiders timed out.
He threw incompletely to third and 10 instead of sliding and taking the sack that would have burned another 40 seconds on the clock. That left Derek Carr with 1:43 to get the Raiders within goal range to tie it up.
“I think we’re at the end of learning from experience how to get back to winning,” said Wilson. “Sometimes it’s a journey; sometimes it’s an ugly one, and sometimes it’s a tough one. What probably hurts more than anything is that these games have been close, one-score games. We have to be able to find ways to win them.”
Then Wilson said an interesting thing.
He said, “It’s never a good idea to lose, but it’s almost like, man, at least somebody’s kicking our ass.”
Perhaps Wilson will get his wish.
The Broncos have two games left against Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs, who beat them 13 straight and score 30 points a game, more than double Denver’s production average.
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