Broncos’ Russell Wilson is making fewer plays with his legs, and still taking too many hits


Eleven things about the Broncos as they travel to the East Coast to take on the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.

1. Denver quarterback Russell Wilson has made a few plays with his legs so far this season — a third-down conversion against Jacksonville stands out — but a combination of injury and system and perhaps age has kept him from making too many dangerous forays down the field. Another possibility: Defenses around the NFL are getting better at handling mobile quarterbacks in general.

2. “If you look back, probably about three years ago, the boots, the keeper game, they were all over (the league) on the video,” Broncos offensive coordinator Justin Outten said. “It seems like defenses are really getting better at stopping that. I know our defense struggled with it early in OTAs, but they made an adjustment. You look at all the video from Week 1 all the way up until now, each opponent, they are doing a really good job of as far as taking away that issue.”

3. How so? “You’ve got a lot more stand-up defensive ends compared to years prior. You don’t see a lot of those four-down fronts with six-techniques and tight-nines. You get these mammoths on the edge that set the edge and they’re standing up and they see everything. So that’s the advantage that these guys have defensively when you have these big guys on the edge. They can kind of control what happens on that side.”

4. Editorial note: The Broncos had one of those big guys who could stand up on the edge in 275-pound Bradley Chubb and traded him last month.

5. In an effort to play more from the pocket, Wilson has been sacked 35 times (second most in the NFL) and hit 88 times in 10 starts this season. Part of what head coach Nathaniel Hackett and company set out to do with Wilson in this second act of his career was keep him from taking a lot of hits. Instead, he’s piling up more than ever.

6. “It’s never just one person or one specific area,” Hackett said. “As coaches, we can try to do more to try to protect him from the different concepts that we potentially use and the different protection schemes – working him in the pocket, all over the place. It could be routes, it could be blocking, it could be all kinds of stuff. It can be just coverage, just good coverage. There are so many things that go into that. We just have to play better all around. We have to do a better job coaching to make sure he doesn’t get hit.”

7. A win/loss stat the Broncos are on the good side of: They’ve won the coin toss nine times in 11 games this year. In one of the two they lost, they ended up getting their preferred outcome (starting the second half with the ball) anyway. Here’s the rub: Denver has been awful in the third quarter. The only offensive touchdown they’ve scored in the third quarter this season came against Jacksonville, which was, you guessed it, the only time Denver hasn’t started the second half with the ball.


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