Broncos’ Wilson: Wish I played better for Hackett
6: 21 PM ET
Jeff LegwoldESPN Senior Writer
- Covered Broncos for nine years for Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News
- Previously covered Steelers, Bills and Titans
- Member of Pro Football Hall of Fame Board
of Selectors since 1999
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson, on track for a career low in touchdown passes and career high in sacks, pointed to his own play in this disappointing season as a regret in the wake of Nathaniel Hackett’s firing Monday as the team’s head coach. Wilson stated after Wednesday’s practice that he wished he could have played better for him. “I wish that I could have played at a level that I know how to play at and the standard that I’ve always played at. ”
Hackett was fired 15 games into his first season as Broncos coach with the team at 4-11 and with the lowest-scoring offense in the league at 15.5 points per game. This was the shortest tenure of any non-interim head coaching in franchise history.
For his part, Wilson, in his first season with the team since the blockbuster trade to acquire him in March, has 12 touchdown passes in his 13 starts, meaning he likely will finish far below his previous single-season low of 20 in 2014.
Wilson also has been sacked a league-leading 49 times in those 13 games (3.8 sacks per game). His 51 sacks in 2018 are a career high in that category.
Interim coach Jerry Rosburg said Wednesday that Wilson would start the Broncos’ final two games of season, including against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday.
” We’re going to play all players that are available and healthy enough for us to try to win a football match,” Rosburg stated. “… Russell Wilson will be our starting quarterback. ”
Wilson had his worst showing in a season full of uneven efforts in the 51-14 loss to Los Angeles Rams on Christmas Day with 15-of-27 passing for 214 yards and three interceptions. Two of those interceptions he threw in his three first pass attempts led to Rams touchdowns.
Wilson’s play was closely scrutinized since Hackett’s firing. Both George Paton, the general manager, and Greg Penner, the owner and CEO of Wilson’s company, said Tuesday that Wilson could fix what needs to be fixed in his game. Penner and Paton also stated that Hackett’s struggles weren’t the only reason he was fired.
“Russ said that he didn’t live up to his standards… he’d be the first to tell you that he didn’t live up to our standard. He needs to improve,” Paton stated. “I don’t believe we made a coaching decision based on Russ. This wasn’t the point of it all, and that’s why we’re hiring a new coach to help Russ. It’s about the whole organization… it’s not about Russ’s ability to fix himself. We believe he can. Penner stated that Wilson’s position on the team was a long-term decision. ”
Wilson also echoed these sentiments Wednesday.
“I am confident that I can play exceptionally well. I know who I am and what I can accomplish,” Wilson stated. “… Every moment you’re out there, you want to be your best. I haven’t been successful this year .
“… It’s been a difficult year for me in many ways. I’m used to winning a lot and scoring touchdowns. This year, it’s been different. Wilson said. “… I have higher expectations than everyone else, but my mission remains the same: bring Super Bowls back to Denver. Wilson was asked how appealing he thought the Broncos job was for potential coaches, given his struggles and the struggles the offense has. He said it was a “special job.” ”
The Broncos traded five draft picks, including a first-round selection that now projects to be in the top three picks of next April’s draft, as well as three players to the Seattle Seahawks in March for Wilson. The Broncos then signed Wilson in early September to a five-year, $245 million contract.
The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.