Russell Wilson is coming off a decade-long stint with a Seattle Seahawks team that was reluctant to unleash the quarterback. Seattle's philosophy centered around Pete Carroll's physical, defensive-minded approach.
Wilson landed with a team in the Denver Broncos that is going to be more than content to #LetRussCook. Despite a lack of quarterback focus offensively in Seattle, Wilson still produced at a very high level.
The veteran quarterback earned nine Pro Bowl nods in the 10 years he's been a pro, and that translated to big team success, unsurprisingly, with the Seahawks making the playoffs in eight of those seasons and defeating the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII. Now in the hands of an offensive-minded head coach who coordinated the NFL's back-to-back MVP for the past three years, what is Wilson's outlook in Denver?
David Carr, the former Houston Texans' No. 1 overall draft pick back in 2022, recently swung for the fences in his projection for Wilson in Year 1.
I think we can all agree that Wilson is a great quarterback who’s going to do well in Denver. One person who will be a huge factor in Wilson’s success is Nathaniel Hackett. During Wilson's final season in Seattle, there was a disconnect between the run and pass games. OC Shane Waldron’s scheme typically leans on play-action off the run game, but the veteran passer wanted to see the defense, drop back and throw -- essentially, Russ wanted to cook. The Packers ran the same system with Aaron Rodgers once Matt LaFleur and Hackett arrived in 2019, and there were rifts between Rodgers and the staff concerning the QB's responsibilities that were eventually ironed out – Rodgers has won back-to-back league MVP awards, after all. Hackett knows how to work out a compromise so a veteran QB can have control at the line of scrimmage without changing the entire scheme. And now that we know Hackett and Wilson are “joined at the hip,” I envision Wilson having one of the best statistical years of his career while not compromising his skill set or Hackett's vision for the offense.
2022 projection: 67 completion percentage, 4,200 passing yards, 30 TDs, 8 INTs
Wilson's career-high in yardage came back in Year 5 (2016) when he threw for 4,219 yards. His career mark in passing touchdowns is 40, notched into the history books just two seasons ago in 2020.
Keep in mind, Wilson's passing acumen isn't the complete picture of him as an offensive threat. He's a phenomenal playmaker who can gash opponents with his legs when things break down.
Back in 2014, Wilson rushed for a whopping 849 yards and six touchdowns on top of his 3,475 passing yards and 20 scores through the air. His NFL resume includes 4,689 rushing yards on 846 attempts (5.5 avg) and 23 touchdowns on the ground.
Wilson's also very stingy when it comes to giving the ball away. His career TD-to-INT ratio is a healthy 292-to-87.
So, is Carr's projection for Wilson within the bounds of the plausible? Absolutely. And it wouldn't surprise me in the least to see him exceed the 4,200 passing yards and 30 touchdowns Carr projected for the Broncos' new quarterback in 2022.
After all, the supporting cast Wilson inherits is absolutely teeming with playmaking ability. And while the Broncos' offensive line has its warts, it is arguably the best unit Wilson will have played behind in many, many years.
The Wilson era officially began on Tuesday as he and the Broncos descended on UCHealth Training Center to kick off the team's offseason training program. It's going to be fun to see what head coach Nathaniel Hackett has in store for Wilson.
For what's worth, Carr didn't limit his 2022 projections to Wilson. He also forecasted what Drew Lock might have in store for the Seahawks this year.
Lock struggled in Denver, posting a 59.3 completion percentage in three seasons, the worst among 35 QBs with at least 20 starts since 2019. I do think he still has a lot of ability and could do well in a system like Seattle's that features a run-heavy approach and more play-action. And while he is the team's QB1 right now, Lock must do more than just enough to win the job if the Seahawks draft a quarterback at the end of the month. He'll have a hard time keeping a dynamic first-round signal-caller like Malik Willis or Kenny Pickett off the field, but stranger things have happened.
2022 projection: 60 completion percentage, 3,200 passing yards, 18 TDs, 12 INTs
Follow Chad on Twitter @ChadNJensen.
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