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Broncos' QB Russell Wilson: 'Everything Starts from the Pocket'

Russell Wilson pushed back some at the notion that he's not a pocket passer.

Russell Wilson has developed a reputation for being a creator from under center and a quarterback who's always looking for the vertical kill-shot. The advanced metrics bear that out. 

However, as great as Wilson is at improvising when the play breaks down, the Denver Broncos' quarterback fully understands that in the NFL, in order to cultivate staying power, a signal-caller must win from the pocket. Don't let the naysayers lead you to believe that Wilson is a backyard-football-only type of QB. 

"I think everything starts from the pocket [in order] to be able to have control of the game through the pocket, but also outside of the pocket," Wilson said earlier this week after OTA practice. "You have to be able to dominate both."

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When it comes to deep shots and outside-the-numbers targets, Wilson consistently ranks at or near the top among NFL quarterbacks. It's one thing to chuck the ball deep and another altogether to connect with consistency. 

The Broncos' have several great options for both deep shots and boundary balls — two excellent vertical receivers apt at high-pointing the pigskin and using the combination of their bigger bodies and the boundary to great success outside, like Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick.

Denver also boasts a trio of wideouts with the breakaway speed to take the top off the defense and maximize Wilson's aggressive tendency and deep-ball accuracy like Jerry Jeudy, KJ Hamler, and rookie Montrell Washington. The Broncos' triggerman won't be lacking weapons in the arsenal.

"With the guys that we have, the weaponry that we have, the offensive line up front—those guys have been blocking their butts off," Wilson said, "it’s been a lot of fun and we have a really good system. We have some good stuff and some amazing stuff that we’re doing."

Wilson and company got their licks in on Denver's defense this past week during voluntary minicamp. It was a smorgasbord of touchdowns and splash plays and while the offense may have gotten the upper hand on the Broncos' defense this week, iron sharpens iron. It'll only make them better.

As great of a creator as Wilson is, make no mistake: he knows how important it is for the offense to stay on schedule and to honor the timing of whatever play is being called in by head coach Nathaniel Hackett. When things break down, though, fans can trust Wilson to find the hole in the opponent's boat. 

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“I think it’s a mixture," Wilson said. "We hit some on time and hit some a little bit later. You have to move around and make some plays... We have to be able to do it all. We have to be able to run the ball great in the red zone, too."

Indeed. Wilson's "obsession" with winning is informed by the discernment of how paramount touchdowns actually are in the NFL. 

"It’s about touchdowns when you cross that red zone," Wilson said. "The whole game is about touchdowns, but especially when you get across that red zone. You want to be the best in the league to be able to do that. That’s a key thing. You want to be at least Top 5 in the league. I think that’s something that’s really important.”

Coach Hackett emphasized red-zone work during minicamp practices this week, honing the offense's instinct in being able to hit pay-dirt when crossing over the opponent's 20-yard line. When the field shrinks like that, again, the Broncos are set up perfectly to exploit what can be a limitation for NFL offenses. 

Combined with Sutton and Patrick's size is the route-running prowess of Jeudy and the short-area burst and quickness of wideouts like Hamler and Washington. Throw in two big-bodied pass-catchers at tight end — Albert Okwuegbunam and rookie Greg Dulcich — and Wilson will be loaded for bear on this hunt when the Broncos cross into the opponent's red zone. 

The Broncos finished as the 22nd-ranked red zone offense last year so there's plenty of room for improvement and Wilson is just the quarterback to remedy it. 


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