Russell Wilson’s first season with the Broncos was not a glamorous affair.
When he was traded to Denver in March of 2022, Wilson visualized his plan of “winning three or four Super Bowls” in the Mile High City. However, when the ’22 campaign ended, one that started with immeasurable hype and was highlighted by the addition of the nine-time Pro Bowler, culminated in a 5–12 record. The Broncos finished at the bottom of the AFC West and fired first-year head coach Nathaniel Hackett.
Last season, Wilson threw for 3,524 yards, a career-low 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions through 15 games. Despite the dreadful year, Broncos offseason training activities are back underway with several months still to go the start of the 2023 season and the 34-year-old is seeking to redeem himself under new head coach Sean Payton.
However, as Wilson acclimates himself to Payton’s coaching style, K.J. Wright—Wilson’s former Seahawks teammate—wonders whether or not the veteran signal-caller can handle the pressure and tactics used by his new head coach.
“I heard how he runs his meetings," Wright said of Payton during NFL Network’s Good Morning Football on Thursday. “After a loss if you played bad, Sean Payton will let you know loud and clear how he feels about you. That’s the question. Can Russ [Wilson] handle the critique, the harshness, the ‘Hey, you have to better and I’m calling you out in front of the entire football team?’ I’m sure Nathaniel Hackett wasn’t a Sean Payton-type of personality.”
Prior to the 2022 season, the most games Wilson lost in a single season as a NFL starter was eight, dating back to his time in Seattle during the ’21 season when he dealt with a finger injury and finished with a 6–8 mark as a starter. While Wilson will have a lot to prove in the upcoming season, Wright—who played in Seattle from 2011 to ‘20—said it will be a “sight to see” how his old quarterback navigates a new coaching critique.
“Because for 10 years Coach [Pete] Carroll did a good job of, ‘I’m not going to say protecting Russ,’ but he shielded him like ‘Hey, the defense is going to be the lead dog, you’re going to hand the ball off to Marshawn Lynch,’” Wright said.