Kiz: Russell Wilson is broken. He’s a shell of the elite quarterback the Broncos thought they were getting when general manager George Paton mortgaged the future in a trade with Seattle, then doubled down by handing RW3 a $245 million contract extension before he won a game for Denver. Week to week, Wilson shows no signs of improvement. He’s getting worse and beat up behind a shaky offensive line. Should the Broncos consider benching him to heal his body and spirit?
Gabriel: Wilson missed a game against the New York Jets more than a month ago due to the hamstring injury, but hasn’t been listed on the injury report yet in November. He may not be fully healthy but clearly his physical health isn’t a concern at this point. The Broncos don’t have an heir apparent — this was supposed to be Wilson’s kingdom for years to come — and have no reason to try to tank, not that playing No. 3 has kept them from losing games. Bottom line: He’s got to keep playing in hopes that he starts to figure out a path to productivity if not this year, then going forward.
Kiz: I’ve got stats and none of them are flattering to Wilson. Carson Wentz, who hasn’t started a game for Washington since Oct. 13, has thrown more TD passes than Wilson (10-8). Davis Mills, benched by the league’s worst team down in Texas, has a better completion percentage than Wilson (61.9-58.9). Justin Fields, whom Denver could have drafted instead of cornerback Pat Surtain, owns a better QB rating than Wilson (86.2-82.3). What gives? Is Wilson washed up? Is he hurt? The victim of bad coaching?
Gabriel: Probably a little bit of all of those, Kiz. Certainly he’s not the same athlete he was eight years ago or even four and it’s possible his health this year is compounding the general age factor a little bit. The numbers since he had finger surgery and missed three games last fall are ugly. In terms of coaching, something is not translating. Whether it’s Nathaniel Hackett and Klint Kubiak not being able — or being unwilling — to find the right ways to push Wilson or if Wilson simply isn’t seeing and processing the way they want him to, he doesn’t look like a quarterback who’s thrown 300 touchdowns and been elected to the Pro Bowl nine times. Heck, he didn’t even look like Sam Darnold on Sunday.
Kiz: OK, with a 3-8 record, the Broncos know they aren’t making the playoffs. But to bench Wilson would officially be throwing in the towel. I can’t honestly tell you backup Brett Rypien gives Denver a better chance to win. So with Nathaniel Hackett on a very hot seat, sending Wilson to the bench to reset his head would be cruel and unusual punishment for a beleaguered coach. The only reason to keep playing this lost season is to continue the search for Wilson’s lost mojo, and the only way he can find it is by staying on the field.
Gabriel: Ah yes, so you came around to my initial view on the matter. We’ve seen Rypien this year and that wasn’t anymore inspiring than Wilson. The rough part of this for general manager George Paton is there’s no reason to play out the string since Seattle has Denver’s first-round pick, there’s no young quarterback to get a long look at and there’s no sign that a big turnaround is coming this fall. Basically, the Broncos are going to try to figure out a way to get Wilson going without knowing whether this is the coaching staff he’ll be playing for beyond this season and pray to the football gods that this isn’t just who he is going into the future. Not a great situation, to put it mildly.