If you have an app, there’s a good chance Russell Wilson’s spent at least some of the past five weeks absolutely faceplanting on it. ESPN. Amazon. Twitter. TikTok. Instagram. Cripes, even when Warren Moon wants to look away, which is often, he … just … can’t.
“He’s been trolled a lot,” the Hall-of-Fame quarterback told me last week when the discussion turned to the Broncos’ franchise quarterback. “Man, I feel bad for him. But he brings some of it on himself.”
Moon’s been there. He transitioned from Houston to Minnesota late in his career, at age 37, after six Pro Bowl berths with the Oilers. The former Washington Huskies great would go on to notch three more Pro Bowl nods — two with the Vikings and one more, at age 41, with the Seattle Seahawks. From the CFL to Canton, Moon’s living proof that quarterback tales can have happy second chapters. Or happy thirds. Or happy fourths.
And as Wilson and his 2-3 Broncos prepare for another prime-time — hey, we don’t love these night games any more than you do, America — showcase, this time on Monday Night Football against Justin Herbert and the Chargers (3-2) in Los Angeles, Moon said he’d give Big Russ two sage pieces of advice. Right now.
First, until your passing gets right, get the heck off social media.
“He’s just out there too much,” the 65-year-old Moon stressed. “And I don’t know where that comes from. I don’t know if it’s because of the money that you can get from being an influencer, by having so many followers, and the way you can create your business — because I know long-range business is something that’s been important for him, as far as a second career and all that stuff, after his career is over.
“But when you make a choice to transition (to another team) like this, you have to put a little bit of stuff on hold for a while until you get yourself re-acclimated and solidified where you are. And I think he’s trying to do a little bit too much on and off the field … all it does is bring more attention. It brings more attention and more expectations on you when you’re doing that type of stuff. And gives people a chance to get back at you when it doesn’t happen (on the field).”
People like, you know, Richard Sherman. Or Marshawn Lynch. The shots on No. 3 are coming outta every corner these days. Especially from ex-teammates.
But Moon thinks Wilson could avoid taking more shots on the field if he’d give up the idea of being more like Drew Brees — and go back to being more like his old self. Throwing on the run. Throwing from a moving pocket instead of a fixed one.
“I think he has to get back to being who he is. I think he wants to be something else,” noted Moon, who was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006.
“He wants to be more of a pocket passer, but I think he needs to get back to who he is and what got him to where he is today. And that’s more of a movement, play-action guy.
“And his coach needs to get him out on the edge a little bit more as far as running some bootlegs and different things like that, where he’s not always in the same spot all the time. He can throw from the pocket, but that’s not his strength. When you’re 5-foot-10-and-a-half, you’re not going to make a living throwing the ball from the pocket all the time.
“Brees was never a guy that was on the edge. Brees was never a guy that was threatening to run. Russell can’t try and be something that he’s not. He can’t try and be somebody else. Be who you are.”
Moon knew who he was. Or thought he knew, at any rate. The Hall-of-Fame quarterback was a Seahawks radio analyst a decade ago, when Wilson joined a franchise that would play in two Super Bowls, winning one, over his first three NFL seasons.
“My (advice) to him (then) was to try and make sure he’s a good teammate, make sure he gives a portion of himself to everybody on the team so they understand and know who he is,” Moon recalled. “Because he tended to be a little bit isolated sometimes. The team wants to know who their quarterback is, so they can fight for you.”
Can you fight your way out of this mess with a season potentially hanging in the balance? The Broncos are averaging a putrid 15.0 points per game. Wilson heads into Monday Night Football with career lows in passer rating (82.8) and completion percentage (59.4). The irony for Moon is the same as it is for the rest of us: The harder this thing is to watch, the harder it is to change the channel.
“As far as his work ethic, I never had a problem with that,” Moon said. (Wilson) worked as hard as anybody when he first came in the league. But I just can’t imagine you can still be doing the same amount (of work) when you’re also focused and concentrating on all these other things.”