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Russell Wilson Slammed by Eli Manning: 'Should Have Paid Punter'

The Denver Broncos' QB was nuked from orbit.
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In today's NFL media landscape, everyone's a comedian. 

Such is the case for ESPN's Eli Manning — former two-time Super Bowl champion with the New York Giants and co-host of the Manningcast on ESPN 2. Over the football weekend, Peyton Manning's brother had some unkind things to say about the Denver Broncos' current starting quarterback — Russell Wilson. 

"They should've paid that punter $235 million instead of Russell," Eli said.  

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Pay no mind to Peyton nodding his head in the affirmative as Eli delivers his quips. The Sheriff is on live television and nodding while a fellow co-host is talking takes place on a subconscious level. 

Eli obviously was reacting to Wilson and the Broncos' inability to sustain drives on Sunday night against the San Francisco 49ers, which gave a lot of work to punter Corliss Waitman. For what it's worth, Waitman was a weapon in Denver's field-position battle, averaging 47.6 yards on his 10 punts, and pinning the Niners consistently inside the 15-yard line. 

Meanwhile, Wilson struggled for most of the game. The Broncos produced just 261 net yards and went 6-of-19 (32%) on third down. 

However, Wilson was under constant duress from the Niners' pass rush, and the Broncos' offensive line was little more than a sieve in buying the quarterback time to survey the field and make his throws. Wilson was off-target a couple of times, but most of the offense's disjointed execution can be laid at the feet of an O-line in dereliction of duty. 

Wilson willed his unit to victory in the fourth quarter, though, orchestrating a 12-play, 80-yard scoring drive that saw him make several clutch throws and scramble for 12 yards on a crucial 3rd-&-6. He saved his best play for when it mattered most, leading the Broncos to an 11-10 come-from-behind win, and the Manning brothers, if nothing else, can surely appreciate that. 

On the night, Wilson went 20-of-33 for 184 yards and zero touchdowns with a passer rating of 75.8. Keep in mind, the Niners entered Week 3 as the No. 1 defense in the league, relinquishing 210 yards and 13 points per game. 

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The Broncos acquired Wilson via trade from the Seattle Seahawks this past offseason, giving up multiple first and second-round picks, along with three players, including former first-rounder Noah Fant. On the doorstep of the regular season, Denver agreed to a five-year extension for Wilson worth $245 million.

So Eli got his numbers wrong by about $10 million, but his point is not lost on us, nor head coach Nathaniel Hackett, who took time on Monday to remind everyone of the unique challenges Wilson is navigating while competing each week in the uber-competitive NFL. 

“When you look at it, you look at Russell [who has] been in one place for his whole career," Hackett said. "Then he comes here, he’s got [a] new coaching staff, new city, new fans, new press, new system, new people that he’s going out there and playing with. So it’s not as easy as just going out there with anybody and playing ball. So we’re all working through all kinds of things."

Hackett is doing his best to fine-tune things and get on the same page with Wilson. Once that happens and Wilson unlocks that next level of the offense in terms of comfortability and command, watch out. 

"I’m working through things with him," Hackett said. "I’m making sure I’m calling the proper plays for him, that the players are running the right routes, and it’s just that whole thing. Everybody working together and there’s been some good and there’s been some bad. We just have to make sure we have more good than bad as we continue to move forward.” 

Follow Chad on Twitter @ChadNJensen.

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