Can you feel it? The Denver Broncos are relevant again.
As evidenced by their (count 'em) five primetime games on the 2022 regular-season schedule, it's safe to say, the Broncos are back. At least, this team has retaken its rightful place in the national zeitgeist.
Sure, the arrival of first-time head coach Nathaniel Hackett is part of why Denver has suddenly come alive but the real reason is the acquisition of nine-time Pro Bowl quarterback Russell Wilson.
It's safe to say that Wilson's presence changes everything for the Broncos. After not appearing on Monday Night Football for the first time in 29 years, the Broncos will open the 2022 campaign on ESPN's primetime NFL broadcast in the season-opener at the Seattle Seahawks.
Conspicuously taking note of Denver's rising profile, MNF's prized new broadcasting duo of Troy Aikman and Joe Buck recently gushed about the Wilson-led squad in a conference call with local media. DenverFan.com's Andrew Mason was kind enough to publish a few of Aikman and Buck's remarks.
“I like Denver,” Aikman said via conference call. “I expect them to have a good season, and a big part of that, of course, is because of Russell Wilson."
It didn't stop there as the Hall-of-Fame quarterback turned broadcaster put his finger on part of what makes Wilson such a reliable bet for the Broncos.
"The guy has just won," Aikman said. "He’s taken all but a couple teams to the postseason. I think he’s had one losing season. That was last year... I think the guy is a winner, and I think he’s going to win in Denver.”
Indeed, the Seahawks missed the playoffs just twice in the decade that Wilson held down the fort as their starting quarterback. In 2020, Wilson led the team to a 12-4 finish while passing for a career-high 40 touchdowns and 4,212 yards.
He was unable to replicate those numbers in 2021 due to the vagaries of the injury bug — a rare occurrence for the likely future Hall-of-Famer. Not to be outdone, Buck got in on the Wilson praise by pointing out how durable the Super Bowl XLVIII champion has actually been as a pro.
“Not only being a guy that wins, he answers the bell every game,” Buck said. “This was the first year that he was hurt. We were there when he got hurt [the Seahawks’ game against the Los Angeles Rams last October] and it was weird to see them operate without Russell Wilson on the field."
The Broncos are focused on keeping Wilson upright as the last few years in Seattle saw the veteran quarterback take a lot of hits — so much so that he eventually voiced his frustration about it in the press. Seattle, for whatever reason, seemed deaf to Wilson's cries.
"He got hit a lot, and he was looking out of the earhole of his helmet half the time after getting up after big hits and he went right back in the huddle and went right back to work," Buck said. “All these head coaches talk about availability. No one has been more available than Russell Wilson.”
Lastly, Buck also brought up just how consistent Wilson has been as a pro. Although he's never actually been in the MVP conversation (by that, I mean, the actual voters), Wilson's numbers speak for themselves — especially in the face of Seattle's obvious focus on a defense/run-the-ball-first mentality despite having one of the most dynamic quarterbacks in the league under its nose for a decade.
“He’s just the model of consistency,” Buck said. “You start putting his numbers up, and you realize what he’s done the first decade of his career has been sensational, and you go back to his college days, the guy just wins.”
It's an exciting time to be a Broncos fan again, that's for sure. Wilson has not only energized the halls of UCHealth Training Center but also the NFL world at large. Aikman, like many Broncos fans and likely Seahawks fans, was enthused to see the NFL's Week 1 schedule. Wilson will get to exorcise the Seattle demons right out of the gates.
"I was thrilled. That was one I certainly circled. To have it right out of the box is awesome. ... (Wilson) will be fantastic," Aikman said via The Denver Post's Ryan O'Halloran.
Follow Chad on Twitter @ChadNJensen.
Subscribe to Mile High Huddle on YouTube for daily Broncos live-stream podcasts!